You already know that good heart health is crucial to you and your family. But during the rush of the day, it’s easy to stray away from a healthy lifestyle: That box of chocolates at work, the deadlines that keep you glued to your desk, the urge to save time by picking up a deep-dish pizza on the way home – the list of unhealthy temptations go on and on. But how can you stay on track during your busy day?
Here are some tips for heart-healthy living that anyone can do – no matter how much those potato chips, ice cream, emails, and Facebook updates are calling your name:
- Clean out the cupboard and fridge. The easiest way to avoid temptation at home is to give away those chocolate chip cookies taking up valuable shelf space. Throw away junk food snacks that are most likely to clog up your arteries, and replace them with heart-healthy treats such as almonds, no-salt pretzels, fruit, hummus and celery with peanut butter. Also, make yourself small packages of heart-healthy snacks to keep in your bag or desk at work. That way, when you’re hungry you can bypass the office vending machine.
- Plan shopping trips. Want to cut down on high-calorie foods? Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, because you’re more likely to pick up fattening foods to appease your growling stomach. Prepare a grocery list of healthy foods and stick to it once you’re in the store.
- Park far away. In the daytime, don’t look for the closest parking spot. Opt for the one that’s at the end of the lot so you have to walk a little farther – or better yet, try walking or biking to work or the store, if possible.
- Take 10. Stress and heart disease go hand in hand. Even simple steps, such as taking small breaks throughout the day, can help reduce stress. Get up from your desk and stretch once an hour, or go outside for 10 minutes a few times a day to get some fresh air.
- Cut down on caffeine. For most people, a cup or two of regular coffee in the morning is OK. But if you drink caffeinated coffee later in the day, it can keep you awake a night. A good rule of thumb is to avoid caffeine – whether in coffee, soda, energy drinks or tea – for at least four to six hours before bedtime.
- Bring your own. Going to a dinner party? Ask the host whether you can bring a dish for everyone, and then ensure that it’s a heart-healthy one. An elegant salad, vegetable lasagna, or dark chocolate-dipped strawberries are good options. Getting ready for work? Pack your lunch most days so that you’re sure to eat for a healthy heart. A nutritious brown-bag lunch could include a turkey breast sandwich on whole-grain bread piled high with veggies, a cup of yogurt and a piece of fruit.
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