How to Develop Heart-Healthy Eating Habits

Healthy eating is not about strict nutrition philosophies, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, and keeping yourself as healthy as possible– all of which can be achieved by learning some nutrition basics and using them in a way that works for you.

Developing healthy eating habits is not an impossible task. With consistent good food choices, a heart healthy eating plan can soon be a reality. Obviously, good habits aren’t born overnight. But if a person wants to develop heart-healthy eating habits, exactly how long does it take?

For the person who wants to develop some heart-healthy eating habits, here are some tips for getting started. In just a few months, these choices can be habit-forming and a new part of a person’s healthy diet plan.

How to Choose Nutritious Foods

For a heart healthy diet, the doctors recommend that individuals choose from a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups. Nutritious foods have vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but are not high in calories. Examples of these foods include vegetables, fruits, whole-grain like Quaker Oats products and dairy items that are fat-free or low-fat. Choosing from a variety of fruits and vegetables helps a person control weight and blood pressure.

Start slow and make changes to your eating habits over time. Trying to make your diet healthy overnight isn’t realistic or smart.  Make small steps, like adding a salad (full of different color vegetables) to your diet once a day or switching from butter to olive oil when cooking.  As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices to your diet.

Avoid Unhealthy Foods

In addition to choosing good foods that are nutritious, it’s important to avoid foods that are low in nutrients and high in calories. This means cutting back on:

  • foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
  • foods high in cholesterol
  • drinks and foods with added sugars
  • meat and dairy foods that are commercially baked and fried
  • alcohol
  • foods which are high in sodium

Easy Healthy Food Choices

With some simple steps, individuals can make the foods they eat a little healthier. Good food habits that are easy to start include the following:

  • Read the product labels and pick the item with less sodium.
  • Use herbs and spices in place of salt to flavor foods.
  • Rinse foods to get rid of some of the sodium.

In just a short amount of time, daily habits of choosing healthy heart foods and planning healthy menus can have a person on the way to a healthier lifestyle.

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