Gain Independence from Unhealthy Lifestyles

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



It seems food just tastes better when eating it outdoors and with a gathering of friends and family. But perhaps we forget that we still have to watch what we eat, even during celebrations. The American Heart Association (AHA) wants you to gain independence from unhealthy lifestyles by increasing physical activity and eating healthy.

More than 80% of heart disease can be prevented by healthy lifestyle choices including walking 30 minutes or more daily, eating mostly fruits and vegetables and avoiding tobacco products. Changing your lifestyle is really a choice you have control over, unlike a family history of heart disease. You can break free from unhealthy behaviors with small simple changes like adding physical activity, avoiding long sedentary periods, and reducing television watching. Biking or walking with your friends and family is a great way to add physical activity to your week. Start slowly and add small increments of activity, like 15 minutes a day of exercise. Your workout can include simple movements like jogging in place, jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups and squats, and it can be done while watching your favorite television show to avoid the “sitting disease.”

More Tips

Start the day right: Try simple peanut butter on wheat toast, high-fiber/low-sugar cereal, low-fat milk or yogurt and fruit for breakfast. Fish, especially salmon, trout and herring, are high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and cook in minutes. Choose skinless chicken breasts instead of the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs).  Grill chicken or white meat turkey burgers or sausages, and add diced onions and peppers for another layer of flavor and vitamins.

As preschoolers learn early, eat the rainbow! Serve green leafy salads or fruit salads, mixing in strawberries or orange slices. Dress salads lightly with low-fat dressings or fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Add some crunch and healthier fats with some toasted walnuts or almonds.

When snacking, get your crunch fix from raw veggies and low-fat dip, not fatty fried chips. Drink water or flavored seltzer and cut down on soda or sugary drinks. Limit alcohol consumption; instead try a smoothie with luscious, fresh fruit in season. Cut back on commercially baked foods, like cookies, pies and cakes.  For recipes and tips from the AHA on healthy eating, visit online at:

July 5, 2017 |

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