IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR. EVERYONE IS LOOKING FOR WAYS TO IMPROVE THEIR HEALTH AND FITNESS. YOU PROBABLY ALREADY KNOW WHAT FOODS TO AVOID OR MINIMIZE AT BEST, YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE YOU NEED TO EAT A COMPLETELY HEARTHEALTHY DIET.
Changing the foods you eats and changing habits is hard work. It takes time to figure out what you should eat, how much you should eat, and what’s the best time to eat those meals. On top of those factors, there’s a cost factor and having the time to prepare the meals you plan to eat. We get it. You think you can’t possibly squeeze another minute of work into your busy schedules. But the question is, how much is a healthy heart worth to you? The answer should be simple. Of course, you want to take steps to take care of your heart. Who wouldn’t?
So, where should you begin? We have a few ideas to get you started. If you’re ready to get your unhealthy eating under control and make necessary tweaks to make yourself look and feel better, these tips will show you how:
Portion control is king. Forget the mindless eating. Pay attention to what you’re eating. Just doing that will help to keep your food consumption to a minimum. Don’t overload your plate. You don’t need it. Yes, we know you love it, but is it good for you? Instead use a small plate or bowl. Fill your plate or bowl with larger portions of low-calorie foods that are nutrient-rich like fruits and vegetables. Spoon smaller portions of the high-calorie or high-sodium foods like rice, noodles, processed foods or fastfood portions onto your plate or bowl. Making those simple changes can have a positive outcome on your waistline.
Know how much food you’re eating. Look up what a normal serving size should be and only eat that. Your proteins should fit in the palm of your hand with room to spare. Pasta or rice should be about the size of a hockey puck. Your meats shouldn’t be any thicker than a deck of playing cards. For some foods, you may need to use measuring cups. That’s okay. It’s worth the extra two seconds it takes to check the amount.
Load up on more fruits and vegetables. They’re good sources of essential vitamins and minerals. They also tend to be low in calories and sugars and rich in dietary fiber. Eating them may help prevent cardiovascular disease. They will also help your body stave off hunger and lower your cravings for high-fat foods.
To make it easier for yourself, keep freshly washed and cut fruits and veggies in your refrigerator. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on your dining room table. When meal planning, think about making dishes that include lots of fruits and veggies.
There are some fruits and veggies you should limit, though. Coconut, breaded or fried vegetables, fruit packed in heavy syrup, vegetables that are in heavy creams, and anything with added sugar should be avoided.
• Eat Whole Grains. They’re good sources of fiber and heart-healthy nutrients. They help to regulate blood pressure and promote heart health. Avoid the white, refined flour products, muffins, white bread, biscuits, cakes, pies, doughnuts, frozen processed foods, corn bread.
• Avoid unhealthy fats. Limited your intake of saturated and trans fats will help reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease.
• Eat lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy, and eggs (avoid the yolk). Always choose the lower fat options over whole milks and heavy creams.
• Reduce your sodium consumption. Read the labels. • Don’t overindulge.
• Give yourself a break every once in a while. An occasional snack is fine, but don’t make it a habit.
Heart-healthy eating doesn’t have to be hard. With a little planning, you can do what’s right for your heart.
By Julianna Lowe