You may notice a reoccurring theme when reading about the different issues women face throughout their lives…diet and exercise. Diet plays a role in many treatment plans – from reducing the symptoms of PMS to helping our patients reduce their risk for diabetes, and even breast and colon cancer. We understand that no one likes to diet and the thought of starting an exercise program can be daunting.
Start simple – get moving, take a walk. Every good habit starts with a single step. Make small changes in your diet – increase your daily fiber intake until you reach the recommend amount. The American Dietetic Association reports that most of us don’t even come close to the recommended intake of 20 grams to 35 grams of fiber a day. Americans’ mean fiber intake is about half that –14-15 grams a day.
Making good food choices cannot just affect your weight but, also your heart health.
One of the ways to have a healthier heart is by reducing your saturated fat intake, eliminating your trans fat intake, and replacing them with heart healthy unsaturated fats (both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated). Saturated fat can be found in both oils (like coconut, palm or palm kernel) and animal sources (like fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, lard, cream, butter, cheese, dairy products made from whole or 2% milk).
You can further reduce your saturated fat intake by:
- Trimming all visible fat off meats before cooking.
- Using a nonstick skillet or grilling to minimize oil or vegetable spray.
- Using racks to drain off fat when broiling, roasting or baking.
- Cooking stews, boiled meat or soup stock ahead of time; refrigerating, and then removing the hardened fat from the top.
- Removing skin from chicken or turkey before cooking.
When it comes to dairy products, it is always a good idea to choose the low-fat or skim variety. You will benefit from all of the calcium and nutrients as the full-fat variety, but without the extra saturated fat and calories.
When you do include fat in your diet, choose heart-healthy unsaturated fats. They can be found in a variety of oils, such as olive, canola, peanut, sunflower, soybean and corn oil. There are also unsaturated fats in avocados, peanut butter, many nuts and seeds, and fish like salmon, mackerel, herring and trout.
Eliminating processed sugars from your diet will produce immediate results. Check serving sizes and avoid over eating. As your physician we would love to talk to you about setting reasonable goals for you as an individual.