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When Heart Health is NOT All in the Family
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James Beckerman, MD, FACC posted:
Do you ever feel like you are trying to get healthier -- all by yourself?

There's nothing like an unsupportive (or clueless!) spouse or children with limited dietary repertoires (dinosaur nuggets, anyone?) to make your attempts to get heart healthy a lonely endeavor. But with some planning and resourcefulness, you can turn this process into progress.

Do the grocery shopping yourself. Shop on Sunday night when groceries are cheaper (they really are!) and you aren't distracted. Follow the advice of New Mexico State University researchers who suggest physically dividing up your shopping cart into two zones with a strip of masking tape across the cart. They found that dividing the cart into a fruits and vegetables zone (front) and processed foods and staples zone (back) resulted in a doubling of fresh produce purchases, while keeping costs the same. If your kids come along, encourage them to help you by turning shopping into a scavenger hunt or a game of "I Spy."

Throw out the salt. It's easier to avoid salt entirely if you just remove it from your kitchen. And I do mean "entirely". You don't need to have salt in the house. Add flavor to your food with heart healthy seasonings like garlic, thyme, and rosemary or salt-free seasoning mixes from the spice aisle at your store. Be sure to keep sodium content in mind when you go grocery shopping. The majority of the salt you and your family consume comes in the form of processed foods.

Pack your family's lunches. When you limit choices, people tend to eat healthier. This also holds true for the groceries in your pantry, the microwave meals in the freezer, and how you brown bag it. Offer to pack a lunch for your spouse and kids, and keep it heart healthy. Don't forget to pack a lunch for yourself, too!

Make doctor appointments for the whole family. Make sure that children get regular check-ups at the dentist, eye doctor, and pediatrician. How about a check-up for you and/or your significant other? Make an appointment for everyone. For starters, make sure all adults (college students included) get tested and know their numbers for cholesterol (HDL, LDL & triglycerides) and blood pressure.

Speak up. Let your family know why you are making these changes. Ultimately, you want to be healthy for their sake, too. They should know that.

Don't go at it alone! Get your family involved, and use your influence when you can.

What frustrates you about trying to eat heart healthier? Share the tips or strategies that have worked for you and your family with the community.
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James Beckerman, MD, FACC, is a cardiologist at the Providence St. Vincent Heart Clinic in Portland, OR. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard Col...More

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