Thursday, January 16, 2014

Eating hearty and healthy :)

Tonight my family and I decided to celebrate my siblings end to exams and my own progress in recovery by going out to dinner!  It was a wonderful meal, but extremely salty!  After finishing my last spoon full of ice cream which followed a delicious chicken dinner I started to wonder if maybe I should check out the diet guide I had been given at my hospital discharge...just to make sure I wasn't too far out of line.

Woah!  All these years I thought I was eating healthily for myself. However, after looking at this list I am feeling quite out of the "healthy eating" loop!  Obviously I knew the doughnuts and bacon were out, but caviar? Really?

Eating a low sodium and low cholesterol diet is very important for overall heart health and prolonging the life of the new valve.  By following the recommended guidelines on an everyday basis I will decrease my risks for complications, strokes and heart attacks and lessen any potential strain on my heart.  For those of you interested in following the diet for your own heart health, or if you wish to share it, I can point you to these helpful resources which will provide guidelines for heart healthy eating.

Websites include:

After my bit of research I can also offer a few guidelines for beginning the healthy diet.
  1. Avoid adding salt. 
  2. Steer away from fatty meats.  Instead, go for lean meats including sirloin steak (yes please!) pork tenderloin, skinless chicken or turkey breast and fish or seafood (not fried or breaded).
  3. When eating vegetables, consume those cooked without salt and if you must go for the canned or frozen, make sure to use those low in sodium.
  4. No more doughnuts (living next to a Krispe Kreme means that for me, this one will be broken every now and then :) )
  5. For breakfast, go for dry cereals with low sodium like total bran flakes, fruit loops or frosted flakes.  You could also take the leap and go towards Kashi and Go-Lean, but any of these work.
  6. All fruits and fruit juices are clear, just don't go after fried fruits and tons of apple pies if you can help it!
  7. Choose the low sodium and low fat "fatty products" such as margarine, mayonnaise and oils.  
  8. For some reason they have put ice cream and froyo on the no-go list! (Fat free froyo is clear though!) The research shows low fat cakes and fruit deserts like ices and sorbets are the best option when you eat deserts.
  9. As for drinks, most are fine.  Alcohol, of course, in moderation.  The one area you must pay more attention to is milk.  This is hard for me, as I am a 2% milk-a-holic. It is advised that you limit yourself to 2 glasses of milk a day and stick to fat free and 1% to keep the ticker happy.
Tonight as I went out to eat, it became harder to follow these guidelines.  It is okay to splurge sometimes, but when you have been eating out fairly often or feel it necessary to stick to the diet, there are tips for eating at restaurants as well!

The first is to avoid soups as they are often filled with sodium. Next, choose entrees that are baked, grilled, broiled etc.  Ask for no salt to be added to your meal in order to keep it heart healthy (in my opinion, less salt makes it a bit tastier too!)  Choose cooked vegetables for sides, but again, make sure to request no added salt.  If you order a meal with gravy or dressings, request them on the side so as to control your salt and fat intake.  These tend to be higher in fats and salts.

These are the suggestions I was given to ensure I stay happy and healthy!  The above information is great advice I acquired through pamphlets passed to me from the hospital and certain sites with additional information.  This new plan will ensure my safety and I am excited to see the possibilities with my heart healthy diet options!

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