Today, the average U.S. home contains a variety of high-fat, high-sugar, and processed foods. In fact, processed foods make up about 60 percent of the calories Americans consume. The average U.S. home also involves many sedentary activities – think how much time you and family members spend watching TV or on the computer. This lifestyle goes against what research shows helps keep our hearts strong – a healthy diet and moderate exercise.
Getting the whole family to start a heart-healthy lifestyle is not hard, but it does start at home:
Snack On vegetables
Your risk of a heart attack or other heart problems can be decreased by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. If you aren’t eating enough vegetables, try thinking of them as snack foods. Wash and cut vegetables and place them somewhere in your fridge that is easy to see and access. This makes veggies great grab-and-go snacks.
Sneak vegetables into other dishes
Vegetables aren’t a favorite food for many of us. So go under cover. Sneak vegetables into dishes your family already loves. Mash cooked cauliflower into your mashed potatoes or grate carrots and squash into your pasta sauces.
The more meals you can prepare at home, the better. Restaurant food is packed full of sodium and can lead to heart problems. Get the whole family committed to eating more meals at home and make preparation a family affair.
Put exercise equipment near the TV
If you have exercise equipment like dumbbells, a treadmill or an exercise bike, put them near the TV. You can be active while watching your favorite show.
Get more active with family, friends
Find ways to make physical activity a shared, social event. Take an after-dinner walk with your spouse, partner or children. Have a family basketball or kick-the-can tournament. Find new places to walk the dog together. Exercise doesn’t have to be in a gym or require expensive equipment or fees. Move more. Commit to 20-30 minutes of physical activity each day – whatever that activity looks like for you.
Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at UCFHealth.com, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.
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- cardiologist cardiology Cooking diet exercise family food healthy eating heart health home lifestyle physical activity