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Diet and Nutrition

New Year, New Habits: Heart Healthy Nutrition Tips

by Kari McDonnough, CDM, CFPP, Director of Dietary Services and Nutrition

Heart Healthy Nutrition Tips

Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital

As soon as the ball drops each year millions of Americans make the New Year's resolution to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. On average, eight percent have a chance of meeting those goals. Many of the goals are just too extreme for the normal, busy person to achieve. People often make goals to restrict things from their diet — no sugar, no gluten, no carbohydrates — but what if we decided to focus on habits and adding nutritious food to our life? If we focus on small attainable goals and we add more nutrient-dense foods to our diet, it leaves less room for the “junk” food. This can be less overwhelming and, in return, increase your rate of successfully sticking to you New Year's resolution.

Below are five eating habits to consider helping you stick to your resolution and make a positive change in your daily eating habits.

1. Drink water. Being hydrated is very important. Try drinking water as soon as you wake up and having water 30 minutes before each of your meals. How about adding fresh fruit to water — ever add fresh lemon and oranges to your water? How about fresh cucumber and mint? Water does not have to be boring!

2. Eat a healthy breakfast everyday within an hour of waking up. Do you love oatmeal for breakfast? Try adding your favorite dried fruit, walnuts or almonds and maybe some chia seeds. Breakfast gives you energy for the day ahead and will also prevent overeating later.

3. Eat vegetables at every meal. Each week, try adding a vegetable at breakfast. Start small — add some spinach, onions and peppers to your scrambled eggs. Add a roasted tomato on top of your avocado toast. When you are at the grocery store, find one new vegetable to try each week. Veggies are filling, nutritious and low in calories, therefore, will help to prevent you from overeating on more calorie-rich foods.

4. Be mindful when you are eating. Mindful eating is paying more attention to how you eat and being more present when eating. Stop eating in front of the TV or computer, put down all distractions and pay attention to what you are eating. Make meal times special, make them a big deal, you'll feel more satisfied, stop eating when you're truly full and ultimately make healthier choices.

5. Don't forget to be active! The American Heart Association suggest at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. Thirty minutes, five times a week is an easy, attainable goal to remember. Physical activity is anything that makes you move your body and burn calories. Try a new activity — ride a bike, go swimming, put on your favorite music and dance in your living room. A simple positive change you can make is to start walking — set a goal of 10,000 steps per day and get moving.

Just remember, it takes time to change habits — start small and give yourself time. You are not dieting, you are trying to live a healthier lifestyle and change your eating habits. Change one thing per week and don't beat yourself up if you have a slip up. Food is simply food — we need it to nourish our bodies. Don't over complicate it and you will succeed.

Here's to a healthy, happy 2018!


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