When it comes to healthy eating, it surprises many people that you can eat healthily and still have really tasty food. Some people think that if you reduce fat, cut back on salt or try to lose weight you will be bored, irritable, cranky and living on dry crackers! No wonder so many people only make half an effort – if any – when it comes to healthy eating. The trouble is that most people go over the top when they want to lose weight or manage their cholesterol and end up stressed and falling back into their own ways. This is a real pity because changing what you eat to make it healthier has so many benefits. Eating healthier will reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke, but you also get the added benefit of feeling much better and feeling more energetic. All it takes is a little patience and the right information.
This section focuses on all the things you can do to eat a little healthier and be more active. The focus is on ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease (including stroke and heart diseases, e.g. angina and heart attacks) but you will find lots of other benefits too – more energy, better mood and even feeling less stressed. You don’t have to put all of the advice into practice straight away. Start making some changes and when you get used to one change, then you can work on something else. Remember, there is no competition or race so if it takes you a few weeks or a couple of months to get everything in line, that’s fine, as long as you are making changes along the way.
Making a success of a healthy lifestyle
- Make a list of all the reasons you want to change. This list can help you to focus on why you are making changes and will help you to keep going on a day when you might be struggling. Keep this list with you and check it from time-to-time to remind you of why you are making these changes.
- Make a list of the first five changes you want to make. Then set some goals – you might want to work on your five-a-day from fruit and vegetables, try a new recipe or get more active – and decide how and when you will do this. Planning ahead will help you to make healthy choices instead of hoping everything will just fall into place by itself!
- Don’t try to do everything at once. This is the mistake most people make when they decide to eat healthier. Changing the eating habits of a lifetime takes time and a little effort. If you try to do too much at once you will struggle and probably give up. There is no prize for coming first – just set your goals, and when you have achieved them, set some more and work on those. As long as you are working on your changes, then it is fine if it takes you a couple of months to get everything in place.
Why focus on heart disease & stroke?
When asked about health issues they are worried about most people list cancer as their main concern but it is cardiovascular disease that is the number one cause of death. One of the most surprising figures about heart disease is that 80% of it is preventable through changes to your diet and lifestyle. And if you have had a heart attack or stroke, making changes to your lifestyle will help improve your health and wellbeing.
A healthier lifestyle has other benefits too. The same healthy eating advice that helps to reduce your chances of developing heart disease and stroke also reduces your risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, diabetes, and osteoporosis. But the real benefit is how well you will feel. Eating unhealthy foods and not getting enough exercise can leave you feeling tired and run down – even if you are otherwise ‘well’. Increasing your fitness and swapping some unhealthy foods for healthier choices can help you to feel more energetic and in a much better mood!
We will give you tips on how to make changes for a healthier lifestyle and how to manage what you eat wherever you are. We will also give you tips on how to get cooking if your cooking skills only run as far as tea and toast.
The first step to a healthier lifestyle is planning and setting some realistic goals, which will help you to stay focused. Read through the tips and ideas here and start planning the changes you are going to make for a healthy heart.