3 Key Thoughts As You Implement Your Heart-Healthy Diet.
Ask any of our senior living residents about the active, fulfilling lifestyle they find at The Carrington at Lincolnwood and they’re sure to tell you they experience “an extension of their current life…only better.” So, it’s only fitting that we support the personal goals our residents may have set for 2022—as they have every other year—through our outstanding resident-centered amenities and services.
Many residents have set goals for a more heart-healthy lifestyle, which commonly requires modifications to daily activities and eating habits. In this blog, we’d like to address three key nutritional aspects of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Some tips you may have heard before; others may be new to you; all are based on updated and current heart-healthy information.
As your reliable area resource for senior health and wellness, we’re letting you and all our readers in on this important information so we can help support your own heart-healthy goals. Our thanks to the American Heart Association (AHA) for helping to keep heart health top-of-mind by designating the month of February as American Heart Month.
Know your calories.
First, be sure you have a good feeling for how many daily calories you should be eating and drinking to maintain your desired heart-healthy weight. Nutrition and calorie information on food labels is typically based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. Depending on your age, gender and level of activity, you may need fewer or more calories in your heart-healthy diet.
(The AHA Heart-Check Mark can be found on over 1,000 food labels alongside the item’s calorie information. This helpful mark summarizes additional information on the food item’s beneficial nutrients, saturated fats and sodium content. The AHA list of Heart-Check Mark foods is updated monthly. Watch for this helpful symbol on foods when you go to the market!)
Adopt a healthy diet pattern.
Being heart-healthy really does require that you follow a sensible eating pattern whether preparing food at home, ordering in a restaurant or online or purchasing a prepared meal. This heart-healthy diet pattern emphasizes:
- A wide variety of vegetables and fresh fruits (or fruit-based desserts).
- Whole grains and products made up of whole grains (whole-grain bread, brown rice, whole-grain pasta).
- Healthy sources of protein: plants, such as legumes—like black beans—and nuts; fish and seafood; low-fat or nonfat dairy; lean and unprocessed meat and poultry that is skinless.
- Liquid non-tropical vegetable oils.
- Minimally processed foods.
- A minimized intake of added sugars.
- Foods that are grilled, sautéed, roasted, steamed, baked or poached.
- Limited use of salt. Herbs, spices and/or vinegar are nice substitutes for salt.
- A conservative intake of alcohol.
When dining in a restaurant or ordering takeout, you can maintain this healthy food pattern and also follow these tips:
- Ask for help. The restaurant staff can help you navigate the menu and tell you about ingredients, preparation methods and substitutions.
- Half now. Half later. Portion size too big? Try saving half your food for another meal. Seniors dine out regularly, and asking for a to-go container is very common for today’s wait staff. Never be afraid to ask.
- Child-sized. Another word on portion-control. For a meal that’s a better fit for you, your appetite or your heart-healthy goals, ordering a la carte or a child-sized portion may be the way to go.
- On-the-Side. When in doubt, ask for dressings, sauces and toppings on the side. Then, you’re in control of how much you add to your food.
Make mealtime an event.
Just like any objective or occasion that yields good results, mealtime requires planning. Enough of the grab-and-go! Whether dining with family or friends, make mealtime together time for better mental and physical health.
There’s a real connection when it comes to physical and emotional wellness and their relationship to food! Consider the following points in your mealtime plan:
- Who will you dine with? Dine as a family, as a couple, and invite someone to join you.
- Plan a balanced meal. According to the AHA, the new buzzword for heart-healthy eating is “balance.” Adopt broad eating habits instead of focusing on a single food.
- Add color and variety to your plate. This is easily accomplished when you plan a balanced meal.
- Enhance your conversations. Depending on who you dine with, take time before your meal to plan what you’d like to talk about with your dining companions, the day they’ve just had, their thoughts, and their ideas. This approach, especially when considering heart health for seniors, can add a very satisfying, healthy and rewarding dimension to every mealtime “event.” (AHA suggested conversation starters.)
Supporting a heart-healthy diet for seniors.
The Carrington’s resident-centered active lifestyle supports senior health and wellness with a dynamic, creative and heart-healthy dining services program. Residents work with the culinary staff to share their food and beverage preferences, as well as their nutritional and dietary goals. Learn more about how The Carrington can help you live well in retirement. Contact us by filling out the form on our website. Schedule your in-person tour today—and plan to stay for lunch.