Being at a healthy body weight decreases our risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A combination of a healthy diet and exercising in a way that feels good is key to a healthy heart. You can improve your heart health by shedding a few pounds. In fact, even a weight loss of 5 – 10% may improve cholesterol numbers, plus manage and prevent high blood pressure.
Follow these tips from registered dietitian Jamie Walker, RDN, LD, to get started:
- First, start by adding nutritious foods to your routine rather than focusing on foods to take away. Focus more on being consistent instead of being on an overly restrictive diet.
- Re-think snack choices. Choose fruit or vegetables, unsalted nuts or seeds rather than chips, cookies or crackers.
- Make vegetables a priority at mealtime. Start by filling half of your plate with vegetables and the other half split between lean protein and complex carbohydrates.
- Read nutrition labels to get familiar with the foods you frequently eat. Limit buying items with high amounts of saturated and trans fats, sodium and added sugar.
- Don’t be alarmed by cravings. They are normal and everyone has them. Finding healthy substitutions is the best strategy for cravings. Try unsalted nuts for crunchy cravings. For sweet cravings, try apples with nut butter, low-fat Greek yogurt with mini dark chocolate chips or blend a frozen banana with any other fruit and add low fat milk for an ice cream substitute.
- Practice mindful eating, which can help with portions and decision making. Eat slowly, remove distractions and pay attention to smells, textures and flavors.
Lastly, focus on changes you can stick with long-term. Work on one realistic goal at a time rather than trying to make too many changes at once. Don’t throw in the towel or beat yourself up if you have a “bad day.” One bad day or meal will not ruin all your efforts. Stay positive and start fresh the next day. Habits can be difficult to change and can take time. Your heart will thank you for making healthy choices!
Nutrition experts are here to help
Our registered dietitians work with clients to create flexible–yet realistic–therapeutic diet plans. Nutrition counseling is available at the UH Brunner Sanden Deitrick Wellness Center in Mentor. Call 440-701-7534 to learn more or schedule an appointment. Nutrition counseling requires a physician referral.