Five tips for heart-healthy eating

U-M nutritionists share favorite tips on Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist Day

fruit veggie heart blogThe theme for this year’s Nutrition Month (throughout March) is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” In honor of this, as well as today’s Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist Day, we asked the U-M Cardiovascular Nutrition Team to share tips for heart-healthy eating. Here’s what they had to say …

1. There’s no one size fits all

“Diets abound, from vegetarian to meat-based, from low carb to ‘the right carb’ — and everything in between. The truth is, the same diet is not right for everyone. When it comes to the best eating pattern, there is no ‘one size fits all.’ Our genetics, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol values and blood sugar are just a few of the measures that can guide us to learn the best eating pattern for each of us individually. Working with a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist is one way to learn the best eating pattern for you.” — Kathy Rhodes, PhD, RDN

U-M Nutritionists IMG_1802 blog

The U-M CVC Nutrition Team, from left: Martha Weintraub, Sue Ryskamp, Kathy Rhodes, Brenda Allison Fay and Sarah Meyers.

2. Practice mindful eating

“Eating mindfully means focusing on our food and our hunger — without the distractions of cell phones, computers, books or other forms of entertainment. Paying attention to how we feel as we eat can reduce overeating and bring pleasure to a simple meal or snack. Eating mindfully allows us to enjoy the taste and texture of our food and to be aware of easing hunger. Isn’t it nice to feel the sense of control that comes with being able to use our hunger and our inner wisdom to guide our food choices and portion sizes?” — Martha Weintraub, MPH, ACSW, RDN

3. Choose the colors of the rainbow

“Eating a variety of colors every day is an excellent way to keep healthy. The colors in plant-based foods represent different nutrients. Eating from the rainbow ensures that you consume a variety of nutrients, including heart-healthy, disease-preventing phytochemicals. People who eat generous amounts of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke, diabetes and some types of cancer. Focus on picking a ‘rainbow’ of different colors of fruits and vegetables — from dark leafy greens to bright colorful fruits.” — Sue Ryskamp, MS, RDN

4. Buy local and get to know area farmers

“By shopping at your local farmers market, you can talk directly to the farmers and learn more about how the food was grown. You can also ask them the best way to pick out produce and how to prepare it. Farmers have a wealth of knowledge about what they grow so be sure to ask them for helpful tips. With over 300 farmers markets in Michigan, there are plenty of opportunities to stock up on fresh, local produce no matter what the season.” Locate a market near you. — Sarah Meyers, RDN 

5. Learn to stretch and grow

“When you ‘Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,’ do you feel like you bit off more than you can chew? Approaching a new behavior as a chance to stretch and grow allows your mind to focus on the positive. Frame your behavior change project in a positive way and you’ll feel more optimistic about succeeding. If you stumble on your action plan, be compassionate with yourself. Ask yourself questions that focus on learning, moving forward and adjusting to meet your goal. Then, take another bite as you work toward your healthy lifestyle!” — Brenda Allison Fay, RDN

Take the next step:

Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.