by Cathy Clements, Nutritionist & Life Coach, NASM CNC, CPT, FNS, WFS
Happy February! This heart month, consider healthier ways to feed your heart. February is a cooler month, so having comfort foods is utmost for a lot of us. Consider the following points as you prepare or select a meal. And, start with farm-to-table thinking.
Eat more vegetables, fruits — First consider fresh vegetables and fruits, then frozen and canned. Check the amount of sodium in frozen and canned foods. If you choose canned fruit, choose fruit packed in juice or water.
Choose healthy fats — Choose such mono- and polyunsaturated fats as olive oil. Limit saturated fats to less than 5% of your calorie intake. Saturated fats are solid fats like butter.
Choose low-fat protein sources — Lean protein — chicken and fish — is great for lowering fat in your diet. Low-fat dairy sources, too. Swap full-fat milk or yogurt for 1% milk and a nonfat yogurt.
Reduce sodium — Sodium intake should not be higher than 2,300 milligrams. Processed foods usually are higher in sodium, which is used as a preservative. Eating fresh foods can impact your sodium intake immediately. Using herbs to season your food is a great alternative.
Reduce portion size, eat slowly — These tips will help with your total calorie intake. Eating slower will help you enjoy what you are eating and enjoy the company you’re in.
Eat whole grains — These are good sources of fiber and nutrients that help regulate blood pressure. On cold mornings, oatmeal is a great chose to stay warm and give your body a whole grain.
Additionally, if you plan ahead, whether through meal prep or looking up a menu online before going out to eat, it will help you be more aware of what is available and what you are eating.
Then when you have been following a heart conscious plan, allow yourself a treat. An occasional treat will let you feel like you are not sacrificing everything, and you will still remain on track. Just make it occasionally!