Three Action Steps for National Nutrition Month
March is National Nutrition Month, a time for us to consider and promote a healthy life through healthy eating. The food you eat is the fuel your body runs on, and our diets are one of the best tools we have to prevent heart disease. While some risk factors for heart disease can’t be changed, such as age or family history, many others can be reduced through focusing on nutrition. Protecting your nutrition means protecting your heart.
Although we all know the importance of a healthy diet, change is difficult, especially when it comes to our eating habits. It’s easy to get lost in a list of nutritional facts and things we have to cut out of our diet. Not only can it be confusing, but it can also lead to frustration and giving up on healthy eating entirely. But there is a better, simpler approach to nutrition for heart health.
Rather than creating a list of everything that is off-limits, concentrate on what you can add to your diet. Focusing on adding healthy foods and challenging yourself to find delicious ways of incorporating them into your everyday routine offers a positive spin on improving your nutrition.
Focus on adding fruits and veggies
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals that can help reduce your risk of heart disease. They are high in fiber and low in calories, which can lead to staying full longer and keeping weight in check, and minerals such as potassium can reduce blood pressure. Look for ways to add vegetables to your regular routine and choose plant-based meals more often.
Focus on whole grains
Whole grains also contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Like fruits and vegetables, they can help with losing weight, lowering blood pressure, and stabilizing blood sugar, which is especially helpful for those with diabetes, another major risk factor for heart disease. Whole grains include both the bran (the outer layer of a grain) and the germ (the nutrient-filled core of the grain). Examples include brown rice, whole oats, barley, and quinoa. Processed products that are made with whole grains can have some benefits as well. Choose crackers, bread products, and pasta that are made with whole grains as an easy substitute for those made with refined grains.
Leave room for occasional indulgences
When you fill your plate with fruits, veggies, and whole grains, there is less room for empty calories and saturated fats. When you have built the habit of choosing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and unsaturated fats, it is okay to indulge in less healthy options occasionally. Don’t feel guilty for enjoying your favorite foods on occasion, as doing so will lead to feeling less restricted and can help you stay on track for the long term. Enjoy the occasional treat, then pick right back up with adding healthier options to your plate.
A healthy diet is key in the battle to reduce your risk of heart disease. This March as we celebrate National Nutrition Month, look for ways of adding healthy food to your plate. If you have questions or need guidance in evaluating your nutrition, call for an appointment with one of our nutritionists at OHH.