3 Healthy Ways To Change Your Eating Habits
Changing the way you eat isn’t always easy. After all, you’ve been eating this way for years and years. But if you really want to lower your blood pressure, or keep it from getting high in the first place, you’re going to have to face the food issue.
The key to changing your diet is to do it slowly. You have lots of old habits to break and lots of new ones to make. It’s not realistic to try to cut out fat, cholesterol, and sodium all in one day. And it’s just as unwise to try to add fiber, potassium, and all of those other goodies at the same time. (Be especially careful about adding too much fiber too soon. If your digestive system isn’t used to it, fiber can flow through you like a flood.)
Take your time. Learn to enjoy new foods. Don’t feel like you’re giving up rocky road ice cream forever; you can still have some once in a while. As time passes, you’ll find your cravings for fat slowly disappearing. You’ll forget about that saltshaker and, believe it or not, you may find yourself looking forward to that morning bowl of oatmeal.
Here are some additional tips to help you gently slide into your healthier lifestyle:
1. Love your legumes. Beans are good for your heart. So try to include beans or peas in your meals at least a few times each week. Beans come in all sizes, colors, and tastes. They’re easy to add to salads. And they’re a great substitute for meat in chilies, soups, and stews. Just beware of canned beans: They’re usually packed in salty water. Rinsing them well will help reduce the sodium.
2. Pass on the packages. Big problems can come in small containers. A bag of potato chips can have a day’s worth of sodium and fat. So can tortilla chips or flavored popcorn. Even the low-fat varieties can be swimming in salt. Instead, try out some unsalted hard pretzels. Or air-pop some popcorn and flavor it with something like a dash of Parmesan cheese.
3. Go easy on the oil. Why fry? Any time you cook something in butter or oil, you’re adding tons of fat and needless calories. Instead of frying your meat or fish, try to bake, broil, or grill it. The same goes for vegetables. Try steaming them, roasting them, or stir-frying them in chicken broth. If you just can’t put down the frying pan, try using a nonfat cooking spray instead of oil. And if you can’t avoid oil, pick olive or canola oil, which contains healthier fats than butter.