By: Nikki Nies
Maintaining one’s health requires a healthy heart. While the concept is simple, achieving the goal is not always as easy. With heart disease the #1 leading cause of death, review of healthy habits is never too repetitive.
While change can be hard, the key is to make small, gradual changes to ensure they become permanent, small changes. The following suggestions are geared towards healthier habits for everyone:
- Being aware of portion size: overloading and overeating can quickly cause one to eat more than intended, including fat and cholesterol; keep track of the number of servings consumed and realize restaurants often serve more than 1 serving
- Replace high fat foods with more fruits and vegetables: they can be eaten as a snack as well as a major portion of your daily meals; be aware of fried, canned and processed fruits and vegetables, which are often high in added sugars and sodium
- Whole grains: Replace refined grains with whole grains; in addition to being fiber packed, they can regulate blood pressure; want to mix it up, try couscous, quinoa, barley and/or high fiber cereal
- Limit saturated fat and trans fat: Will lower risk of coronary artery disease and keep cholesterol levels in check; can lead to artherosclerosis, which is the hardening of one’s arteries and can increase risk of a heart attack and/or stroke; recommended to limit saturated fat to less than 7% of daily diet/14 g per day of a 2000 calorie diet; limit trans fat to less than 1% of a 2000 calorie diet
- Choose low fat protein sources: Opt for lean meat, egg whites, egg substitutes,legumes, poultry and fish
- Dept. of Agriculture recommends limiting sodium intake to less than 2300 mg daily for healthy individuals: Those 51 or older, African Americans and/or those with high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease or diabetes should limit intake to 1500 mg/day
- Don’t completely eliminate: With elimination of certain foods, you’ll crave it more and end up overeating and feel bad about it; allow yourself the occasional indulgence and don’t feel guilty about it!
- Plan ahead: If possible, plan menus of your meals ahead of time, which will decrease likelihood of succumbing to take out or last minute unhealthy food choices
Which of these tips are you most willing to add into your life? What barriers aren’t allowing you to achieve your best self? What tips have helped you in the past that you want to start again?