Four Steps for Healthy Food and Lifestyle Choices

Nobody else can do as much as you can to guard against heart disease and stroke. A healthcare provider can treat and advise you, and you should see one regularly. But only YOU can make healthy choices every day. These choices can help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke - the nation's number 1 and number 3 killers. Your environment, lifestyle, and eating habits all influence how well your heart and body work and how you feel. These four steps can help you get started on the path to better health, inside and out.

1. Eat a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups.

Just eating plenty of food does not ensure that your body receives the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that it needs. Nutrient-rich foods have these, but nutrient-poor foods are high in unhealthy substances like fat and cholesterol. They also tend to be higher in calories. So consume the suggested servings of each food group for a balanced diet and all of the nutrients your body needs to function.

While choosing foods, think healthy: Replace high-calorie foods and snacks with fruits and vegetables, choosing a variety of different colored items for their range in nutrients. Aim for about 25 grams of fiber per day, preferably from whole grain foods. Cut back on processed meats, and look for cuts of red meat labelled "loin" and "round" - these usually have the least amount of fat. Many fish, including salmon, trout, and herring, and high in omega-3 fatty acids, but swap fried fish for grilled, baked, or poached fish. And when it comes to dairy, select fat-free or low-fat (1%) dairy products.

2. Limit foods and beverages that are high in calories but low in nutrients.

Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, such as meats, dairy, and commercially baked and fried foods. Avoid foods and drinks with added sugars, which tend to be low in vitamins and minerals. Choose, or prepare you own, foods with little or no sodium.

Keeping all of this in mind is especially important when eating at a restaurant. Restaurant meals can be high in saturated fat, cholesterol, added sugars, and sodium, while low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Try to keep portions small, by splitting with other members of your party, or bringing part of your entree home for another time. Ask for dressings and sauces on the side in order to use less. Choose food items that have been grilled, baked, steamed, or poached over their fried, sauteed, or au gratin counterparts. If you are unfamiliar with the portion sizes, try ordering a few appetizers instead of a full meal.

3. Use up as many calories as you take in.

This is where Fleet Feet Sports can help you the most! There is no big secret to avoiding weight gain and keeping yourself healthy - just use up as many calories as you eat and drink every day. Aim for about 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per day, or at least 150 minutes per week. If you can't find 30 minutes in a day, try several 10-minute sessions. Try keeping a log of your activities to track your progress (you'll feel great looking back over how much you've accomplished!)

4. Don't use tobacco products and avoid tobacco smoke,

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