Diet Guidelines to Improving Heart Health
By Karen Reed
A cardiologist once told me a curious thing: that nothing in the world would make her happier than going out of business. According to her, ninety percent of the people who consult her with life-threatening conditions should never have been there in the first place, but pushed their bodies into that state simply through poor lifestyle choices. We all know that heart disease is one of the biggest killers in the developed world, so why do people keep doing this?
Eating the food we like is such an ingrained habit, it’s almost a part of our identity. From waking up to our favorite breakfast to celebrating with friends and family, to winding down with a snack after a long day: familiar, comfortable food makes us feel better.
Changing these habits can be difficult, but, particularly as we get older, living on a diet of nothing but fried chicken and soda is not really sustainable. It directly affects not only how long you can expect to live, but how fully you can enjoy those years. Putting off the decision to embrace a healthy diet until you’re actually suffering the symptoms of heart disease is like waiting for your car to break down before checking the oil.
While few people will be able to change their entire lifestyle in one week, there are plenty of changes you can make in your diet, gradually, that will cause a definite improvement in your long-term cardiac health. The best strategy is just to start making these changes today and keep going until you realize that healthy food can taste good, too.
No Time Like the Present
Here are a few tips you can start implementing right now to put yourself on the road to eating more healthily:
Count Calories (or at Least be Aware of Them)
How much food energy you need to take in depends on your age and how much physical activity you engage in, but eating more than that amount is never a good idea. Just consuming fewer calories are perhaps the simplest, easiest step on the road to wellness, and doesn’t necessarily imply eating less or feeling hungry all the time.
Try substituting popcorn for a deep-fried snack, or serve dinner with stir-fried vegetables instead of a side dish packed with starch, like potatoes or rice. The taste can be as good or better than what you usually put into your body, and you’ll feel just as full afterward. You’ll also be consuming more nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, without stuffing yourself with carbohydrates you don’t even need.
Learn to Cook
Restaurants and food factories often take the easy route to making their food more appetizing: simply adding heaps of fat, salt, sugar and nastier chemicals. Preparing your own food from fresh ingredients is not very difficult and allows you to control exactly what enters your body.
If you are truly not at home in the kitchen, starting small will help you gain experience and confidence. Anyone …read more
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