Happy Valentine’s Day! Give your family the gift of a heart healthy lifestyle. If you model a nutritious diet, if you exercise daily, don’t smoke and maintain a healthy body weight, your children and grandchildren will do the same. They will never have struggles with their weight, cholesterol or blood sugar. They will think it is normal to eat fruit for a snack, to eat regular meals prepared at home and to choose water instead of sugary beverages.
There are three steps that you can take starting today that will get you on the right track for heart healthy eating:
- Environmental control. Fancy name, but all it means is that you are going to eat whatever foods are in our home, office or wherever you spend your time. Look around your kitchen and seriously consider getting rid of the foods that are a problem for you. The chocolate that gives you that much needed afternoon pick me up, the potato chips that are your go-to snack when you come home in the evening and need a little snack before dinner or the decadent ice cream bars that call your name every night after dinner. If you are craving a sugary snack after dinner and your favorites are not immediately available, what will you do? Well, if you pair the lack of sugary choices with your resolution to eat a more heart healthy diet, your chances of success are improved. If instead you leave all of your favorite foods in your house and decide to depend on will power? How has that worked for you in the past? If removing the treats from your home feels impossible, then do the next best thing. Put all of the treats in one spot – and try to make that one spot inconvenient, such as on the top shelf in the laundry room.
- Stocking your kitchen. Now that the refrigerator, freezer and pantry are cleaned out and sugary treats have been banished or at least put in an inconvenient location, it’s time to hit the supermarket. Since you will be purchasing different foods, allow some time to read labels and to select mouth-watering produce that you will be excited to eat. See the suggested grocery list here.
- Food preparation. This is going to take some time. You have won this lifestyle change plan when you open your refrigerator and it is totally stocked with food that is prepared. If there is a Tupperware container of broth based vegetables soup ready to reheat, baggies of chopped vegetables prepared for “take-out”, grilled chicken sliced and ready for salads, sandwiches or snacks and tuna fish ready to eat, you will be eating well, saving money and taking active steps towards improving your heart health.
- Watch the video on food preparation for more detailed tips.
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