A healthy lifestyle – consuming nutritious foods, cutting back on saturated fat and sugars, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding tobacco – is one of the best ways to fight cardiovascular disease. Although a healthy lifestyle may sound intimidating at first, we encourage you to improve your everyday habits with small steps in the right direction. To start, take a look at what you eat each day and learn how to embrace a heart smart diet.
What Is a Heart Smart Diet?
According to the American Heart Association, the key to eating a heart smart diet is to consume a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups. Focus on the following foods:
- Whole grains
- Low-fat dairy
- Skinless poultry and fish
- Nuts and legumes
- Non-tropical vegetable oils (canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, sunflower)
Of course, it’s not enough to focus on eating healthy foods; you also need to know what not to eat. As you make daily food choices, limit or avoid the following:
- Saturated fat
- Trans fat
- Red meat
- Sugar-sweetened beverages
Finally, remember that the way you prepare your diet makes a huge difference in the overall nutrition. Avoid adding high-calorie sauces or dressings to your food, and limit the amount of salt you add. Use fresh herbs or lemon juice for flavor instead. And instead of frying foods (which adds fat), consider steaming, grilling, or broiling. When stir-frying or roasting, go easy on the oil.
How to Embrace a Heart Smart Diet
Understanding which foods to eat and which to avoid is one thing; learning how to embrace a heart smart diet is quite another. If you’re struggling to stick to a nutritious diet, use these tips for help:
- Consume a variety of foods. If you eat chicken and broccoli every night for dinner, you’re bound to grow bored and frustrated. Eating a healthy diet doesn’t have to be boring or flavorless. Eat a new vegetable every day of the week. Vary the way you prepare your veggies as well, and use a variety of herbs and seasonings to change up the flavors of your meals. If you’re struggling to think of new things to eat, explore your options online – you’ll find countless websites with interesting, innovative ways to eat healthily.
- Try new things. Many people make the mistake of focusing on a few select items when they imagine a healthy diet. Perhaps your mind goes straight to fish, chicken, broccoli, carrots, salad, and apples. While those are all wonderful, nutritious foods, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. When’s the last time you ate pistachios? Mashed sweet potatoes? Fresh salsa? Roasted chickpeas? Kiwi? Consider consulting a nutritionist if you’re struggling to find delicious things to eat.
- Plan ahead. Unfortunately, unhealthy foods are often very convenient. If you don’t have healthy foods in your fridge, you might be tempted to order a pizza or stick a frozen meal in the microwave. To set yourself up for success, plan ahead. Write a weekly meal plan and purchase all the ingredients you’ll need at once. Also, create a list of go-to meals that you love, which you can turn to on those days when you have no idea what to eat.
- Allow yourself treats occasionally. The idea of giving up hamburgers, ice cream, or pizza forever isn’t just daunting – it’s unnecessary! If you’re eating healthy foods on a regular basis, it’s okay to treat yourself to indulgences occasionally. Cherish these treats when you have them, savoring every bite.
Sticking to a healthy diet is easy in the right senior living community. If you’re looking for a welcoming community in downtown Greenville, South Carolina, check out Waterstone on Augusta. Our residents enjoy an active and happy lifestyle, and we strive to enhance the quality of life of the seniors we serve by providing group excursions, social clubs, exercise classes, and educational opportunities. To learn more about our amenities and to view our lovely community, please schedule a tour, contact us online, or call us today at 864-605-7236.