11 Heart Healthy Tips

1. Legalize All Foods. There are no bad foods, just bad eating habits. Don’t put any foods off limits, but do be aware of portion sizes and how much you are eating.
2. Which ties directly into – Listening to your hunger. Ask yourself on a scale of 1 to 5 how hungry are you (One being very hungry and five being very full.) Pay attention to what your hunger symptoms are – strong growls, light-headedness, headaches, or difficulty concentrating).
3. Know when to stop. Learn to recognize when you are full and stop eating. Learn what fullness feels like and rate fullness on a scale from one (one being very hungry to four being comfortably full and satisfied).
4. Implement the 20 minutes rule. It generally takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal your brain that you are full, so slow down and enjoy your meal!
5. Evaluate your eating habits. You may not even be aware of everything you eat and drink. Use a “food journal” to keep a record of what, where, when, and how you eat. This is also an excellent way to monitor your hunger and fullness.
6. Portion distortion. Design your plate appropriately – 2/3 grains, vegetables, and fruit, and 1/3 protein. Keep in mind legalizing all foods, so don’t’ skip dessert eat half.
7. Exercise and activity – get into the habit at least four time a week. Regular exercise is a great way to boast serotonin and ease stress. During the holidays, don’t forgo your regular exercise routine – schedule holiday parties and shopping around your workout. If you aren’t exercising regularly, the beginning of a New Year is the perfect time to start.
8. Identify your risk factors. Learn to say no politely to healthy eating saboteurs who come in all shapes and sizes. They could be anyone – aunts, grandmas, co-workers, and friends. Instead of break room doughnuts, grandma’s pecan pie, or auntie’s appetizer, bring your own healthy appetizer or snack to share.
9. The stress and pleasure principle. Take charge of emotional eating. Food can represent many emotions – love, anger, boredom, and anxiety. At the height of stressful times, your body releases a flood of cortisol and adrenaline – hormones that increase blood flow, raise your heart rate, and sends your blood pressure soaring. Research has proven that excess cortisol also causes excess weight gain in the abdominal area. However, cortisol is an important hormone secreted by the adrenal glands and involved in the following functions:
a. Regulation of blood pressure
b. Maintenance of a proper glucose metabolism
c. Proper function of your immune system
d. Response to inflammation
e. Insulin release for blood sugar maintenance
Serotonin on the other hand, subdues your cravings, causing a sense of contentment and peace. Increasing your serotonin through more sunlight, exercise, and Carbohydrates can help keep stress levels down through busy and hectic periods such as the holidays.
10. Drink plenty of water. Drinking plenty of water will help you keep hydrated.
11. Limit your alcohol intake and other high calories drinks. Alcohol metabolizes to sugar and fat, so consume alcoholic drinks wisely by limiting yourself to one-two drinks a day or consuming non-alcoholic versions. During the holidays limit high calorie beverages such as eggnog and hot chocolate.

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