Live Well by Eat­ing Well

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Ti­fani Ki­nard Polk Medical Cen­ter

Some re­search has shown that it takes about 21 days for some­thing to be­come a habit.

We are past 21 days into 2019 so, hope­fully, you have al­ready de­vel­oped some healthy habits. But, if you haven’t yet got­ten out of the start­ing blocks, that’s OK too.

There is no need to throw in the towel. To­day is a great day to change your life for the bet­ter.

One sure way to do that is to es­tab­lish a healthy diet. We aren’t talk­ing about the kind of diet where you re­strict food you eat, just to achieve some short-term goal.

No, we are talk­ing about a life­long change that helps you achieve that im­me­di­ate goal, reach new ones that you hadn’t dared to think about, and best of all, main­tain those goals for a life­time. There’s noth­ing bet­ter you could do for your heart. And, chances are, your heart could use the love.

Polk County has the high­est rate of deaths caused by coro­nary heart dis­ease in the six county re­gion that also in­cludes Bar­tow, Chat­tooga, Floyd, Gordon and Chero­kee County, Alabama.

A sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tor to that fright­en­ing statis­tic is that Polk also has the sec­ond high­est rate for obe­sity. If we can take care of the lat­ter, chances are, the for­mer will im­prove right along with it.

If the prob­lem is that you just don’t know where to start, we want to help. The key is re­duc­ing the amount of high-fat, high-calo­rie foods that you take in. That may seem daunt­ing, but the re­ward is worth the ef­fort.

These steps can help you get started:

Eat at least 2 cups of fruit and 2½ to 3 cups of veg­eta­bles ev­ery day. Pro­duce is full of vi­ta­mins, min­er­als, fiber and other es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents. And pro­duce is prac­ti­cally free of fat and choles­terol.

Cut back on high-fat foods con­tain­ing par­tially hy­dro­genated veg­etable oils, trans fat and sat­u­rated fat. Use liq­uid veg­etable oils in place of soft or hard mar­garine or short­en­ing. Limit cheese, but­ter, ice cream pro­cessed and fatty meats, cakes, cook­ies, pas­tries, muffins, pies, and dough­nuts.

Add more seafood to your diet. A great guide­line is to eat fish at least two times a week, par­tic­u­larly fish like salmon, trout, and her­ring. All of these con­tain omega-3 fatty acids. They may help lower your risk for death from coro­nary artery dis­ease.

Read and com­pare food la­bels. To make the best use of food la­bels, first look at how many serv­ings the pack­age con­tains. Then look at the calo­ries and fat per serv­ing. Mul­ti­ply the calo­ries and fat by the num­ber of serv­ings you’re go­ing to eat.

Drink more wa­ter. Lim­it­ing sug­ary bev­er­ages like soda and juice with added su­gar will ben­e­fit your heart and your waist­line.

If you drink al­co­holic bev­er­ages, limit your in­take. Al­co­hol is high in calo­ries. Limit in­take to 1 drink per day for women and 2 for men.

Pre­pare foods with lit­tle or no added salt.

Pre­pare prop­erly. Af­ter you buy nu­tri­tious foods, make sure you pre­pare them in a healthy man­ner. Grill fish and chicken in­stead of fry­ing it.

Fi­nally, watch food por­tion size. If you do, you will also watch your health im­prove.

Fol­low­ing these guide­lines can re­duce bad choles­terol lev­els and de­crease your risk of de­vel­op­ing heart dis­ease. And, you don’t have to give up tasty foods. The Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion of­fers some great tast­ing heart healthy recipes at recipes. heart.org.

If you are al­ready on this path, keep up the good work. If you haven’t yet started, there’s no bet­ter day than to­day. We don’t want you to just live; we want you to live well.

Ti­fani Ki­nard is the Hos­pi­tal Ad­min­is­tra­tor and Chief Nurs­ing Of­fi­cer at Polk Medical Cen­ter.

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