To highlight the importance of a healthy heart for February’s American Heart Month and Valentine’s Day, dietitian Amy Rosenfeld, MS, RD, CDN, Community Outreach Program Manager at Northern Westchester Hospital, has some simple eating suggestions to get the whole family on a heart healthy track.
“Getting healthy can be a family affair.” Ms. Rosenfeld said. “And by getting your entire family involved and making small, manageable changes, everyone in the family can enjoy better health.”
Here are 10 small changes that can make a big difference:
- Eat the rainbow every week: Eating fresh fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors is the best way to get all the vitamins and minerals we need. Make it a game to get all the colors of the rainbow every week. Create a sticker chart for all family members, and take note when everyone reaches their goal. Try doing this every day, and make it a contest to see who can get to the end of the rainbow first.
- Try one new veggie per week: Take the challenge to try a new vegetable every week. Pick it out together at the grocery store or let the kids choose.
- Give fish a try. If your family (or your kids) aren’t super into seafood, try introductory fish options. Try using firmer less fishy tasting options like tilapia or sea bass. Try preparing grilled fish tacos, or baked homemade breaded fish fillets for everyone to enjoy.
- Cook meals together: Resolve to cook at least one meal a week instead of eating out or ordering in. Cooking together in the kitchen is a great way to eat healthier, learn new things and bond.
- Try to be more plant-forward. Plant-forward is a style of eating that emphasizes plant-based foods as the focus of the meal, with animal products as a side dish, or not included at all. Aim for at least one plant-based meal per week to start, building to more.
- Put down the devices at the dinner table: Enjoy a mindful meal together – one where you can relax and chat like the good old days. The connections you make at the dinner table, as well as the nutritional benefits of a distraction-free meal, are endless.
- Exercise together as a family: Exercising together doesn’t have to mean a family trip to the gym. Go for a family hike or snow-shoe adventure. Go ice skating or do yoga together. Even a simple family walk is a great start.
- Start an herb garden: Grow herbs indoors this winter to freshen up your meals and show your kids the wonder of healthy foods. Research shows that kids are more likely to try new foods when they are involved in gardening.
- Start with a fresh pantry: Look through the pantry, and clean out the unhealthiest choices. The best food choices are items that contain whole foods as ingredients and as few additives as possible.
- Pack up healthy snacks ahead of time: Healthy choices can be derailed by poor planning. On Sunday nights, pack individual bags of healthy snack choices and set them up in the fridge so they are ready to go for the busy week ahead. Some good choices are hummus cups with baby carrots, pre-portioned bags of trail mix, or whole-grain crackers and cheese.
- Cook extras at dinners for healthy lunches: After dinner, pack up leftovers in containers for healthy lunches the next day. Or, take the extra step and make meals just for lunch, such as a large pot of chili or a stir fry dish with the kids’ favorite veggies and protein. This will save money and get everyone eating fresher all day long.
- Lighten up your restaurant order: Eat family style to lighten the portions. Choose options that are grilled, baked and roasted, rather than fried and creamy. Ask for modifications, such as extra veggies with Asian dishes and pizza, or whole-grain options when possible.
To learn more about being heart healthy, join us for our upcoming community education programs:
Cooking for Reducing Disease Risk: High Blood Pressure
Reducing your risk for chronic disease starts in the kitchen. The foods we eat and prepare for our families can be nourishing, satisfying AND healthy. Join registered dietitian Amy Rosenfeld for an informative and demonstrative class all about cooking to reduce your risk for high blood pressure (hypertension). Amy will explain the DASH diet and realistic cooking methods to follow it (as recommended by the American Heart Association for high blood pressure). Amy will be joined by special guest, Dr. Alan Coffino, to explain the connection between blood pressure and kidney health.
February 9, 12:00-1:00 pm, live over Zoom
Register at: https://nwhhighbp.eventbrite.com
The Relationship between Heart Disease and Stroke: Recognize to Help Prevent
Join the Katz Institute for Women’s Health’s Go Red Campaign and learn about the relationship between heart disease and stroke. FACT: 80% of strokes are preventable. Dr. Ramandeep Sahni, Stroke Director at Phelps Hospital, will discuss the silent symptoms of stroke and tips to lower one’s risk. She will be joined by registered dietitian, Amy Rosenfeld, who will present a live cooking demonstration and provide education on the foods that lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and reduce inflammation (all risk factors for stroke).
February 18th 12PM-1PM
Kids in the Kitchen: February Break Family Heart Healthy Cooking Class
Looking to eat healthier as a family? Do you have a child who loves to cook and bake? Join Amy Rosenfeld, registered dietitian, for a family cooking program during February school break, in honor of American Heart Month. Participants will learn about nutrition through an interactive trivia game while practicing healthy cooking techniques and fundamentals. Recipes will be provided ahead of time so you can cook along together. This program is appropriate for children of all ages. Younger children will need parental supervision and assistance.
February 23, 11:00-12:00 pm, Live over Zoom
Register at: https://2022kidscooking.eventbrite.com
News and Photo Courtesy of Northern Westchester Hospital