May I be the first to wish everyone, Happy Heart Month! February is a month of the heart – from Valentine’s Day to Go Red for Women Day to dozens of American Heart Association Community Walks. Our childhood memories of February typically include exchanging Valentines at school as a way to our friends’ and teachers’ hearts. As adults, we begin to grasp the seriousness of heart disease when a family member or friend receives a diagnosis of an ailing heart.
Heart disease is the #1 killer in the USA today. Stroke, a close cousin to heart disease, is slightly lower as the #5 killer. Poor eating habits, sedentary lifestyles, lack of knowledge, and a variety of genetic factors are all to blame. The super good news is that preventative habits to avoid these heart health pitfalls – like good nutrition, daily physical activity, and knowledge can turn it all around.
Nutrition Pros Help Others Avoid Heart Disease with Fun Programs
Nutrition professionals are perfectly positioned to make a positive difference for those affected by poor heart health. Think about it. The gym down the street employs a registered dietitian who offers a 3-part series called, Healthy Heart Nutrition. The local hospital employs several outpatient dietitians who offer individual consultations for Heart-Smart Eating. The community college in the next town has a nursing program with a fundamental class called Intro Nutrition, and it’s open to the public. A favorite grocery store employs registered dietitians who offer a Heart Healthy Grocery Store Tour weekly during February.
If this sounds like an exciting and rewarding path for you, then check out these 5 steps to planning a nutrition science career.
Healthy Lifestyle Habits Everyone Can Adopt to Avoid Chronic Diseases
Following healthier lifestyle habits makes everyone’s risk for heart disease lower. The bonus is that these very same strategies are likely to lower most people’s risk for other chronic diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, and cancers. Nutrition professionals are key players in helping their clients avoid chronic diseases and the unpleasant consequences of them. What a great feeling to help boost a clients’ quality of life!
Here are 3 lifestyle habits that will help you and others keep a healthy heart and, at the same time, reduce the risk of other chronic diseases:
1. Easy Meals for a Healthy Heart – Taste the healthy flavors!
- Breakfast: Hard Boiled Egg Sandwich on whole wheat pita with sliced tomatoes & cucumbers & chickpea hummus spread. Fresh orange. Hot tea or coffee.
- Lunch: Lentil or Vegetable Soup with whole grain crackers. Fresh apple slices spread with peanut butter , or sunflower butter. Seltzer water with squeeze of lemon or lime.
- Dinner: Baked or Grilled Salmon. Steamed or roasted-in-the-oven broccoli florets. Brown rice with black beans. Fresh berries or melon. Seltzer water or hot herbal tea.
2. Realistic Physical Activity for a Healthy Heart – Get moving!
- Walk with pep in your step. A simple pedometer makes it fun to reach a daily goal of 2,000 – 5,000 steps for starters. As you build up stamina, then set your step goal higher.
- Water aerobics exercise class. A low-impact exercise that’s a ton of fun, especially with a friend.
- Jump rope. A low-cost investment of challenge and fun to ‘tune up’ your heart. Start slow and work up to 10-20 minutes daily.
3. Mindful Stress Reduction for a Healthy Heart – Ease your mind!
- Write in a journal. A great way to calm down for those who like to write.
- Meditate. A great way to reduce the stress of the day for those who thrive on spiritual time.
- Laugh. A great way to relieve stress and anger for those who have a ‘funny bone.’
As a future nutrition pro, how do you see yourself helping others avoid heart disease?