Updated: Jul 9
This month it’s all about hearts, love and adding a little TLC to your everyday life. February is American Heart Month. The month is dedicated to driving awareness around heart disease, or cardiovascular disease (CVD). These are the leading causes of many health-related issues that can not only affect your ability to work but impact your overall quality of life.
It’s important to know that some of the at-risk factors to heart health issues include poor diet, being overweight and lack of physical activity. To ensure that you’re on the right track to improve or maintain a healthier heart show yourself a little love by following some of these recommended adjustments for improving your diet by managing your portions and staying active:
Improve Your Diet:
Start the day with a low-fat breakfast. Try these simple ideas:
In electric blender process ¼ to ½ cup vitamin water zero, 1 6-oz. carton Greek Style yogurt, and ½ cup fresh or frozen fruit to make a fruit smoothie.
Spread toasted multi-grain waffle with 1 tablespoon peanut butter.
Top oatmeal with chopped apple, raisins or 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts.
Eat every three to four hours or five to six times a day; this prevents you from becoming too hungry.
Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water –eight to ten glasses a day will keep you hydrated. If you are looking for hydrating options in addition to water, try flavored varieties such as vitamin water zero or sparkling water. Most importantly remember that all beverages hydrate. Thirst is an indicator of dehydration and sometimes thirst is confused with hunger.
Include more fiber in your diet such as whole grain breads and cereals, beans, legumes and nuts. Higher fiber will aid in helping you feel full.
Include more vegetables and fruits—these too will help fill you up and not out.
Manage Weight with Right-Size Portions:
It’s important to have a good relationship with food, so my mantra is “all foods and beverages can fit into a balanced diet in moderation.” Below are some guidelines to help you keep portion control in mind and some products that can help you do so.
Choose 3-oz. portions of lean meat, fish or poultry. This is a serving about the size of a deck of cards.
For fruits and vegetables, consider a portion about the size of a baseball. If you enjoy avocado, go for one-half of a medium avocado.
Servings for grains, beans and legumes should compare to the size of an adult fist.
Beverages also come in perfectly portioned sizes. Coca-Cola has mini-cans available at about 7.5 ounces.
Keep It Moving:
Regular physical activity and exercise can have long term positive effects along with reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. By getting your body moving, you can improve control of your weight, combat heart disease, increase your energy and mood, decrease stress and improve your sex life.
Scheduling the time to exercise on your calendar will help make it part of your standard daily routine. If you cannot set aside a 30 to 45-minute block of time, do several 5-10-minute segments daily. The buddy system works well here having a friend on board will help keep you both motivated and on task.
Take Away: Focus on heart health this month. Start to make life-long changes to your lifestyle choices and show a little love to your heart and those you care about around you.
Michelle J. Stewart is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator better known as the Nutrition Planner who has been leading the way to a healthier you for more than 25 years. Michelle is a Certified Wellness Coach whose motto is “EAT LESS MOVE MORE”. She is a consultant for the food and beverage industry, including formally with The Coca-Cola Company, and offers expertise in corporate wellness, weight loss surgery, menu and product development. All opinions expressed are her own.
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