Simple Behavior Changes Can Create Heart Health

Each day we have the opportunity to choose health through our behaviors. It is such a simple concept, yet it can be very challenging on the follow through. I think the gift of looking at each day as an opportunity to choose health can take the pressure off of ourselves if we make bad choices. If we make a bad choice one day we can wipe the slate clean and start again the next. This is a form of self-love to forgive ourselves for mistakes we make and to start anew each day.

Our heart is a symbol for our emotional wellness. During this month of heart disease awareness, creating more self-love in our decisions is a way to create health.

The behavior I want to talk about today is eating. We nourish ourselves everyday through the foods we eat. Food in its most basic level is fuel that our body uses to give us energy for the activities for the day.

If we put nutrient-dense food into our bodies we create health. If we put empty-calorie junk foods into our body we create disease. (Notice I didn’t mention anything about taste -- food can taste good and be good for you and that is what we always want to eat).

Food can be a damaging medicine if it is abused. It can cause several different forms of heart disease.

On Feb. 11, 2012, a man had a heart attack after eating a meal at a restaurant called the Heart Attack Grill. The owner markets the foods in terms related to heart disease, like a burger called the Triple Bypass, because if you eat enough of them you will probably have one. The owner of the restaurant says that many restaurants serve unhealthy food he is just honest about it.  Does that make it right?

Food is a powerful medicine and it can be used in a positive way to create amazing level of health with simple changes. The number one suggestion I can recommend is to add plant-based foods to your meals.

This could be herbs, spices, fruit, vegetables, or whole grains. Plant-based food have been researched as the most health healthy additions to your diet.

I believe the most important change that you can start making is adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet. My motto whenever I cook is how can I add one more veggie to this dish?

If I am scrabbling eggs I throw in some spinach. If I am making chili or soup I add onions or carrots or celery. Fruits and vegetables have important vitamins, minerals, fiber and hear- protecting chemicals.

If you are a meat-eater it will always benefit you to choose lean cuts of meat. Season the meats with herbs and spices to make them flavorful and tender.

We as Americans love our grains, bread, pastas and desserts. These are made with grains. Fortunately for our hearts grocery stores are beginning to carry more whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, whole wheat on their shelves.

Grocery stores are also starting to carry breads and pastas with these whole grains as well. As I mentioned before, herbs and spices are a great way to season foods instead of using just salt.

You will be amazed that experimenting with your favorite flavors in cooking can increase your cooks skills fast. If you like Italian foods buy some thyme, rosemary, oregano or flat leaf parsley and add it to your foods. If you like Mexican foods cumin, coriander, cilantro, and lime kick up the flavor wonderfully.

The key to changing your behavior is to take it one day at a time. Foods are used to so many purposes other than just fuel.

Creating new behaviors is a process that will take practice. Practice making choices that include the healthy heart foods every day. In six months it will be magic as you realize that it is easier to eat healthy and it has become part of your new habit.

Be gentle with yourself as you start making these healthy changes. Take it one day at a time.

Dr. Daemon Jones

Dr. Dae

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