7 Steps to Eating Healthy
Changing your eating habits can be tough, especially if you are dealing with the stress of medical issues. When we are under stress, we tend to gravitate toward our comfort foods that are not heart heathy. You can eat well and healthy. Understanding which foods, you should eat more of and which foods to limit can help make the change to a healthy diet easier.
Controlling your portion size
Portion control is more than just limiting how much you eat it is about understanding what a serving size (portion) actually is. In today’s world of mega size, super-size and 2 for the price of one, no wonder we struggle to eat healthy.
One of my favorites ways to control my portion size but still feel like I am getting a “full plate” of food is to use smaller plates or bowls. Seems silly, but numerous studies have shown that if our eyes see a full plate, we do not feel deprived and are more likely to be satisfied after one plate.
Read serving sizes and try to follow them. Pasta and rice serving is about the size of a hockey puck. Lean meat should be about the size and thickness of a deck of cards. Being able to judge serving sizes will take practice, use measuring cups, spoons, or a scale until you are confident in serving the right portions.
Add more fruits and vegetables.
Another trick is to fill your plate with low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. Eating more vegetables and fruits may help you cut back on higher calorie foods.
Keep vegetables and fruits washed and cut in your refrigerator. These are perfect to grab when you are craving something sweet or crunchy.
We all know that eating fruit and vegetables are good for us and that they are a good source for vitamins and minerals. Did you know that like other plant-based foods, they contain substances that may help prevent cardiovascular disease?
Choose whole grains
Whole grain products can be a good source of fiber and other nutrients. They can also play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. It is easy to increase the amount of whole grains in your heart healthy diet simply by substituting for refined grain products.
If you want to try something new add barley into your diet. Barley contains about three times as much fiber as a serving of oats. It is rich in a soluble fiber known as beta glucan and is recognized for its cholesterol-lowering abilities.
Watch your fat
You know you have to watch how much saturated and trans fat you eat. This is important to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. High cholesterol can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Limiting how much saturated and trans fats you eat is an important step to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaques in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting saturated fat to less than 10% of total daily calories. To help meet this goal try some simple ways to cut back on saturated and trans fats:
• Trim fat off your meat or chose lean cuts of meat.
• Use less fats when cooking and serving.
• Choose low-fat substitutes when possible. Try low-sodium salsa or low-fat yogurt on your baked potato or sliced whole fruit or low-sugar fruit spread on your toast.
• Check food labels, even those that say reduced fat. Many may contain trans fats. Trans fats may be listed as partially hydrogenated oil on the label.
Sometimes you need a little fat, in those times choose monounsaturated such as olive or canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats found in certain fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds can be a good choice as well. Remember to use sparingly, all types of fat are high in calories.
Try for low-fat protein sources
Lean meats, poultry and fish are great sources of protein. Choose skinless chicken and fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring.
Low-fat dairy and eggs provide good protein as well. Look for lower fat dairy options such as skim milk, low or non-fat yogurt.
Another great source of protein that is low-fat and cholesterol free is legumes. Beans, peas, and lentils are great substitutes for meat and help to reduce your fat and cholesterol intake and increase your fiber intake.
Limiting how much sodium is in your diet is an important part of a heart healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults have no more than 2,300 milligrams (about a teaspoon) of sodium a day. Ideally, most adults should not exceed 1,500 milligrams daily.
A good practice is to not add salt when you are cooking. Taste your food before adding a little salt. Also experiment with salt substitutes or fresh herbs and spices to add flavor to your dishes.
The biggest culprit of sodium in our diets are canned and processed foods. Eating fresh foods or making your own can help you control the amount of salt in your diet.
If you are using canned foods or prepared meals look for ones with no added salt or reduced sodium. Again, read the labels for the about of sodium per serving.
Plan your heart healthy diet for the week, make a list and stick to the list when shopping. When preparing your meal, make extra servings and freeze them to use on those days when you do not feel like cooking. This may help you avoid reaching for an unhealthy option.
Do not deprive yourself!
Allowing yourself an indulgence every now and then is okay. This may help you stick to your heart healthy diet if you know that an occasional treat will not derail your plan. If indulgence is the EXCEPTION, rather than the rule, things will balance out over the long term. Eating healthy the majority of the time is what is important.
Check with your Medical Provider
As always you should talk with your doctor about a heart healthy diet plan that is right for you.
For more information print our Food to chose and avoid to help you make the right choices.