Eating right not only helps you look and feel great, it also
helps you live longer. But don’t take an “all or nothing”
approach, which can leave you so overwhelmed that you just give
up. Instead, follow this easy plan to make one simple change a
week. You’ll be shocked at how painless it is … and how much
better you feel.
Week 1: Breakfast
Your first mission is to remake breakfast. Not eating it? Start
now! Eating a healthy, satisfying breakfast gives you energy
and prevents binges later in the day.
Your first week, eat breakfast … and make it a heart healthy
one. Try different combinations of whole grains, fat-free or
low-fat dairy, fruits and proteins until you find a few you
enjoy. Here are some mix-and-match ideas:
Whole Grains: Whole grain breads, English muffins or high-fiber
bars or cereal
Dairy: Skim or 1% milk, fat-free or low-fat yogurt, low-fat
Fruit: Bananas, berries (eat alone or mix into yogurt or
Proteins: 2 Tbsp. peanut butter, 15 almonds, eggs (no more than
Week 2: Lunch
The second week, concentrate on lunch. First, cut down on
restaurant and fast food eating as much as possible. If you
must eat out, look at the restaurant’s menu online and choose
something healthy ahead of time. Better options are:
Frozen meals: There are plenty of healthy options available.
But you have to read the labels! Make sure your selection has
less than 500 calories and less than 1/3 of the calories from
fat. Also, frozen meals can be loaded with sodium, so try to
choose those with around 500 mg. or less.
Homemade lunches: A sandwich on whole wheat bread is an easy
solution. For the filling, choose lean meats, veggies like
lettuce, tomatoes, onions or mushrooms, and a low-calorie
condiment. Mustard and flavored hummus are delicious, healthy
alternatives to mayonnaise.
Week 3: Dinner
Dinner can be a challenge if you eat out a lot or have a busy
family life that leaves little time for healthy cooking. The
trick to keeping dinner simple is substitutions.
In the third week, whenever possible, switch up your favorite
meals with these substitutions:
– Ground turkey breast instead of ground beef.
– Whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta.
– Grapeseed or olive oil ,or heart-healthy spreads, instead of
butter or margarine.
– Grill or sauté instead of breading or frying.
– Choose marinara sauce or low-calorie dressings over creamy
– Instead of large amounts of cheddar or similar cheeses, use
half the amount of a strong cheese, like parmesan. There are
tasty low- and no-fat cheeses as well.
In addition to substituting ingredients, eliminate some protein
and carbohydrates in order to make way for more vegetables. Aim
to fill half your plate with vegetables, one quarter with
protein and one quarter with carbohydrates. The point is to eat
healthier versions of the meals you and your family already
Week 4: Beverages
Calories from beverages can pile up quickly, and they’re often
empty calories. This week, cut out all “bad for you” beverages
like soda and coffee with cream. If you must drink soda, limit
yourself to one diet soda a day. If you need creamer in your
coffee or tea, use skim or 1% milk. Stick to these changes and
your taste buds will adapt more quickly than you think.
Fruit juices, while good for your heart, can also add lots of
calories. Eating the actual fruit is almost always better for
you. So limit fruit juice to one serving per day, too. Of
course, the best beverage is water, so always keep a tall, cool
bottle within easy reach.
Once you start feeling better, you’ll be motivated to make more
heart-healthy changes, too. Start by adding ten minutes of
walking to your daily routine one week… then twenty minutes the
next week … then thirty the week after that. Slow changes like
this are easier to stick to and can add years to your life!
Kay Zee Aldrich is a professional writer who is passionate
about helping women live healthy lifestyles. Did you know
that 2 out of 3 women over the age of 25 will be affected by
heart disease? Learn more about heart health and how you,
too, can help fight heart disease and stroke in women by