We all know it's important to eat a heart-healthy diet, but busy schedules and dining out can defeat our best intentions. How do you get through the day and not sabotage your diet? Make it fun, do some research ahead of time and learn how to make heart healthy eating a way of life, says Cardiac Dietitian Toni Kuehneman, MS, RD, LMNT, of Alegent Creighton Health.
Start simply. Think about color, portions and seafood - changing even one of these three things can improve your heart health.
1. Choose colorful foods. "If you go for color, you'll find yourself reaching for fruits and vegetables," said Kuehneman. "They're not only healthy – they're attractive – and we tend to eat with our eyes first."
2. Portions are critical. "I recommend that people eat from smaller plates. Their eyes will see what looks like a large portion, but it will actually be more reasonable," said Kuehneman.
3. Eat more seafood. In fact, eat it twice a week. "Seafood is low in saturated fat, high in protein and it tastes great," she said.
What about eating out? Research shows that it's hard to maintain a healthy weight if you eat more than three restaurant meals a week, said Kuehneman. Portions are large, the food is often processed, and it may not be local or fresh. Here are some suggestions:
- Choose the restaurant carefully. Visit their website for nutrition information (saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and calories).
- Ask for sauces on the side (salad dressing, margarine, sour cream and gravy).
- Avoid fried foods. Choose foods that are steamed, baked, grilled and broiled.
- Share large portions of food or take a portion home to eat the next day.
- Avoid soups – restaurant soups are high in salt and/or fat.
- If possible, ask that no fat or salt be added to your food.
- Choose restaurants that prepare fresh, local foods.
If you're looking for specific recipes for heart-healthy recipes, please register for a Hearty Healthy Cooking class. These events include a local chef preparing heart healthy recipes for you to sample, and an Alegent Creighton Health cardiologist and dietitian speaking on heart-healthy topics.