Healthy Eating Facts
The Facts on Fat: What a Healthy Diet Should Include
Surprise: Fat’s not all bad. You just have to know how to maximize the healthy fats and minimize the unhealthy fats. Unhealthy fats contribute to hardening of the arteries and can lead to heart disease and stroke. The following fat facts and tips can help you understand how fat should fit in your healthy eating habits.
Change your fat mix
Fact: Monounsaturated fats like canola oil and olive oil can improve blood-cholesterol levels and reduce the risk for heart disease.
Tip: Substitute monounsaturated fats for the saturated fat and some polyunsaturated fat in recipes and meal planning.
Trim your total fat
Fact: It’s essential to eat some fat because hormones and your nervous system depend on it to function properly. Some fats are healthier than others. Monounsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats are healthier than saturated fats and trans fats.
Tip: Limit fat intake to no more than 20 to 35 percent of your total daily calories.
Beware of trans-fats
Fact: Stick margarine, shortening, processed pastries, cookies and crackers, French fries and other deep-fried fast foods tend to have plenty of hydrogenated trans-fatty acids, a riskier type of fat.
Tip: Trans-fats should make up no more than one percent of your total daily calories. Cut down on trans-fats by eating fewer processed snacks and avoiding deep-fried fast foods.
Fat-free vs. low-calorie
Fact: Just because a food product is labeled “fat-free” or “low-fat” doesn’t mean it’s good for you. When a food manufacturer removes the fat, something has to take its place. Usually that’s sugar. Fat-free and low-fat foods can have just as many calories as the regular version and cause weight gain if you eat too much of them.
Tip: A better approach, if you’re craving something in particular, is to have just a couple of bites of the real thing, then push it aside.
Tips to reduce your fat intake:
- Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains
- Use fat-free salad dressing and mayonnaise. If you cannot tolerate the taste, try the low-fat versions of these.
- Skip the butter or margarine on your toast, baked potato, cooked carrots or other vegetables.
- Avoid pastries, pies, cookies, muffins and most commercial snack foods
- Reduce your cheese intake or switch to low-fat varieties
- Select fat-free or low-fat dairy products such as skim or 1 percent milk, nonfat yogurt and low-fat cottage cheese. Avoid flavored yogurts, as they have added sugar and a lot more calories.
- Remove all visible fat from lean meat before cooking. Remember to select meats that are relatively low in saturated fats, such as chicken, turkey and fish.
- Purchase low-fat or fat-free hot dogs, sausages and processed meats.
- Avoid fast foods
- When in doubt about a food, read the nutrition label. If more than 30 percent of the calories are from fat, skip it.
Remember that even one positive change a day can help you move toward a healthy eating pattern. Select one of the tips and give it a try today!
If you raid the fridge when you’re stressed or upset, that’s called emotional eating. Emotional eating affects most everyone from time to time, but regularly letting your feelings guide your food intake can affect your health. Sadness, boredom and other negative emotions can drive emotional eating—such as polishing off a container of ice cream after a romantic breakup or devouring a bag of potato chips when you’re home alone on a Saturday night. But happy events can lead to it, too. Many people overeat at joyous occasions like parties and weddings.
More serious conditions can be linked to emotional eating. One is binge eating disorder, characterized by eating dramatically large amounts of food well after you reach the point of fullness.
Eating more food than your body needs can have dangerous consequences. People who eat for emotional reasons often gain too much weight, which puts them at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and cancer. Excessive eating has emotional consequences as well, such as feeling guilty or embarrassed afterward.
Strategies to deal with emotional eating:
Here are steps you can take to stop emotional eating episodes and break the cycle:
Learn to recognize hunger. Next time you reach for a snack, ask yourself what’s driving it. If you are truly hungry, you’ll notice physical symptoms, such as a growling stomach. Other, less-obvious hunger cues include irritability and difficulty concentrating. If those signs are absent, you probably don’t need to eat right then.
Keep a journal. Take the time to create a “mood and food” journal. Write down what you eat each day, along with the emotions you were experiencing at the time and whether you were truly hungry. You may find that specific feelings, such anger or sadness, lead to your overeating. Once you recognize these triggers, you can learn healthier ways to deal with them. For example, if you experience stress, instead of trying to relieve it with a candy bar, take a walk around the block.
Build a support network. Surrounding yourself with friends and family who support your efforts to change your eating habits can improve your chances of success. It may also be helpful to join a support group, such as the 12-step program Overeaters Anonymous, through which you will meet other people with similar problems and learn better ways of coping.
Cultivate other interests. Finding an activity that you enjoy, such as yoga, playing a musical instrument or painting, can increase self-confidence, which is often poor in emotional eaters. If you find that your eating is driven by boredom, a new passion can fill your hours and make you less likely to look to food for emotional satisfaction.
Get help if necessary. If you can’t control emotional eating on your own, consider getting professional help to change your behavior. A form of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy can teach you to change your eating habits and deal with unpleasant emotions in a better way. Medication, including antidepressants and appetite suppressants, may also help. Talk with your health care provider to learn about more treatment options.
Shop Smart, Cook Smart
From the grocery aisles to your dinner table, here are some tips for reducing the amount of sodium that finds its way into your body.
Avoid processed, prepared and pre-packaged foods. Americans consume up to 75 percent of their sodium from these food sources. Examples include soups, tomato sauce, condiments, canned goods, preserved meats and prepared mixes.
Choose lower-sodium foods or low-sodium versions of your favorites. Although it may take some time for your taste buds to adjust to a lower sodium diet, there are delicious options for very flavorful, low-sodium meals. Once the adjustment to healthier dining is made, many people report they would not choose to go back to the highly processed sodium rich foods.
Read your food labels. When buying pre-packaged foods, read the labels. Many different sodium compounds are added to foods, and they are listed on food labels. Watch for the words “soda” and “sodium” and the symbol “Na” on labels, which warn you that these products contain sodium compounds. Many canned and frozen food labels help the consumer by printing “low-salt” or “low-sodium” boldly on the packaging.
Eat more fruits and vegetables. When buying canned or frozen varieties, be sure to choose the no-salt added versions, and look for the choices without added sauces.
Use fruit and raw vegetables as snacks. These are a heart-healthy alternative to chips and salted nuts.
Select unsalted nuts or seeds, dried beans, peas and lentils.
Select unsalted or low-sodium fat-free broths, bouillons or soups.
Avoid adding salt and canned vegetables with added salt to homemade dishes.
Don’t use salt during cooking. Certain salt substitutes contain a large amount of potassium and very little sodium. They are not expensive and may be used freely by most people, except those with kidney disease. Talk with your healthcare professional about whether a salt substitute is right for you.
Learn to use spices and herbs to enhance the natural flavor of food. Ditch salt for healthier, delicious salt-free seasoning alternatives. Don’t salt food before you taste it; enjoy the natural taste of food.
Take the salt shaker off the table. Adding more salt at the table adds to your daily sodium intake without adding much to the flavor of your food.
Eat less salted potato and corn chips, lunchmeat, hot dogs, salt pork, ham hocks, dill pickles and many canned foods. All of these foods have a lot of salt. SOURCE: American Heart Association
A 2,000 milligram (mg) low-sodium diet is used to treat various medical conditions including congestive heart failure, kidney disease and liver disease. People with these conditions may experience problems with fluid retention when too much sodium is consumed.
Most Americans usually consume more than 4,000 mg of sodium a day. Some of this sodium comes from salt added at the table. Commercially prepared, processed food is also a major source of sodium.
Read food labels. This should be done to learn about sodium in the foods you eat. Avoid buying packaged foods with more than 200 mg of sodium per serving.
Do not use salt at the table. Instead, use herbs, spices, vinegar, and fresh lemon or lime to add flavor to foods. Try salt-free seasoning mixes such as Mrs. Dash or Salt-Free 17 at the table. Check with your doctor before using salt substitutes like “No Salt” which contain potassium chloride.
Use more fresh, non-processed foods. These foods can be flavorful and inherently have less salt.
Pack your lunch instead of eating out. If possible, limit restaurant dining to once or twice a week.
Try setting a sodium intake goal of less than 600 mg per meal. If you must eat out often or depend on processed foods regularly, sodium intake goals per meal will need to vary. Your dietitian can help.
When dining out, it is best to choose an owner-operated “steak and seafood” restaurant that can prepare fresh, non-processed foods.
Ask for nutrition information at your favorite fast food restaurant (or check their website). Even with careful selections, assume this meal will have at lease 1,000 to 1,200 mg of sodium. Plan other meals accordingly to avoid exceeding 2,000 mg of sodium for the day.
Ask detailed questions about how foods are prepared. Explain that it is important for your food to be prepared without added salt.
The fresh-catch broiled or grilled fish, a non-marinated steak, or a plain hamburger usually has the lowest sodium content for an entree selection.
Unsalted fries, baked sweet or white potatoes, corn on the cob, fruit and lettuce salads with vinegar and oil dressing are usually the best low-sodium side items.
A small dish of ice cream or sherbet is often the best choice for dessert.
Limit bread items, sauces, dressings, condiments and other toppings. These can be high in sodium. Ask that they be served “on the side” and use sparingly.
Low-Sodium - Food Guidelines
The sodium amounts listed below represent a suggested maximum amount of sodium that a serving should have. It is important to note that when following these guides, it is best to keep your sodium intake well below the suggested maximum amounts. Your daily sodium intake should be less than 2,000 mg.
Grains: 6-11 servings per day
- Breads: regular or salt-free white, wheat, or other breads and rolls - less than 140 mg per serving
- Cereals: regular cooked and cold low sodium cereals - less than 75 mg per serving
- Crackers and snack foods: all low sodium crackers and chips - less than 75 mg per serving
- Pasta, rice and potatoes: all salt-free pastas, potatoes and rice - less than 35 mg per serving
Veggies: 3-5 servings per day
- All fresh, frozen or canned salt-free vegetable products - less than 35 mg per serving
Fruits: 2-4 servings per day
- All fresh, frozen or canned fruits and fruit juices - less than 25 mg per serving
Protein: 2-3 servings per day
- Fresh or frozen meat, poultry, fish, low-sodium canned meat and fish, dried beans and peas, low-sodium peanut butter, eggs, unsalted nuts, low sodium soups - less than 250 mg per serving
Dairy: 2 servings per day
- Milk, yogurt, low-sodium cottage cheese, low-sodium cheese - less than 130 mg per serving
Fats/Oils: use sparingly
- Regular butter, margarine or mayonnaise (limited to 4 tsp./day), Unsalted butter, margarine, cooking oils or shortenings, low-sodium gravy, cream sauces and salad dressing - less than 100 mg per serving
Sweets: use sparingly
- Sugar, honey, syrup, jam, candy - less than 35 mg per serving desserts: Cake and other baked goods within sodium allowance, sherbet, gelatin, ice cream and cooked puddings - less than 35 mg per serving
Miscellaneous: in moderation
- Herbs, spices, low-sodium seasoning mixes, vinegar, low-sodium ketchup, regular or decaffeinated coffee and tea, Kool-Aid, most soda, low-sodium bouillon, non-dairy creamer - less than 35 mg per serving
When choosing low-sodium alternatives it is important to follow certain guidelines. Remember to buy fresh, unprocessed foods, prepare plain grains, dress your salads lightly and pay careful attention to the sodium content of foods before purchasing.
|Use These (Sodium Levels)
||Instead of These (Sodium Levels)
- 1/2 cup fresh of frozen vegetables (<35)
- 1 oz fresh cucumber slices in vinegar (1)
- 1 oz fresh meat, poultry or fish (15-25)
- 1/2 cup canned or frozen veggies w/sauce (140-160)
- 1 oz bread and butter pickles (170) 1 oz canned meat, poultry or fish (90-250)
- 1 oz processed luncheon meats (200-675)
- 1 oz frozen meat or poultry processed and injected with broth (70-235)
- 1/2 cup pasta, cooked without salt (<5)
- 1/2 cup rice, cooked without salt (<5);
- 1/2 cup macaroni and cheese (650-1200)
- 1/2 cup Near East Pilaf (450) 1/2 cup Old El Paso spanish rice (400)
- 1 tbsp oil and vinegar (2-6)
- 1 tbsp plain yogurt (10)
- 1 tbsp salad dressing (120-320)
- 1 tbsp light or regular mayonnaise (100-120)
- 1 cup Campbell’s low-sodium chicken broth (65)
- 1 cup Pritikin fat free chicken broth (290)
- 1 cup Campbell’s chicken broth, reconstituted (770)
- 1 cup Swanson chicken broth (1000)
- 1 cup popcorn, no salt added (trace)
- 5 low-sodium Triscuits (75)
- 1 cup microwave popcorn (200-450)
- 5 regular Triscuits (290)
- Quaker puffed wheat/rice, per serving (0)
- 1 oz. Quaker Old-Fashioned Oatmeal (<5)
- Salt-free bakery bread (10)
- Most ready-to-eat cereals, per serving (100-360)
- 1 packet Quaker Instant Oatmeal (270)
- Most regular white and wheat bread (100-200)
- 1 cup fresh tomatoes (16)
- 1/2 cup no-salt-added canned tomatoes (50)
- 1 tbsp Heinz low-sodium ketchup (3)
- 1 cup Del Monte diced tomatoes (320)
- 1/2 cup Prego spaghetti sauce (700)
- 1 tbsp regular ketchup (190)
- Swiss cheese (60)
- Unsalted butter or margarine (Fleisehmann’s) (0)
- Ore-Ida potato wedges (25)
- Colby cheese (180)
- Regular butter or margarine (90-120)
- Ore-Ida steak fries (360)/td>
Reading Food Labels
To limit sodium to less than 2,000 mg per day, sources of sodium beyond what is added at the table must be identified. Understanding food labels is essential to regulating a low-sodium diet.
In this example, there are 4 servings per container.
- The sodium in the entire container of this food item: 1,200mg
- The sodium in one serving of this food item: 300mg
Understand these food label terms:
- Sodium-free: 5 mg or less sodium per serving
- Very low sodium: 35 mg or less per serving
- Low sodium: 140 mg or less per serving
- Reduced sodium: 25% less sodium than regular
- Unsalted: No salt added during processing
- Oatmeal with brown sugar, raisins and cinnamon, 5mg
- Skim milk, 120 mg
- Orange juice, 5 mg
- Healthy Choice deli roasted beef on Roman Meal wheat bread with lettuce, tomato and light mayo, 750 mg
- Fruit salad, 5 mg
- Diet soda, 35 mg
- Chicken breast sautéed with fresh mushrooms in olive oil, garlic and 1/4 tsp. Prudhomme’s Poultry Magic Seasoning, 220 mg
- Baked potato with margarine, light sour cream and chives, 150 mg
- Fresh green beans with margarine, 120 mg
- Low-sodium Ritz cracker with Alpine Lace swiss cheese and 1 tsp spicy brown mustard, 130 mg
- Small frozen yogurt cone, 100 mg
Alternatives to Salt
There is a rich world of creative and flavorful alternatives to salt. Get started with this guide to spices, herbs and flavorings and the food items with which they are a particularly good flavor match. Then get creative and experiment!
Here are some seasonings to add variety:
Allspice: Lean ground meats, stews, tomatoes, peaches, applesauce, cranberry sauce, gravies, lean meat
Almond extract: Puddings, fruits
Basil: Fish, lamb, lean ground meats, stews, salads, soups, sauces, fish cocktails
Bay leaves: Lean meats, stews, poultry, soups, tomatoes
Caraway seeds: Lean meats, stews, soups, salads, breads, cabbage, asparagus, noodles
Chives: Salads, sauces, soups, lean meat dishes, vegetables
Cider vinegar: Salads, vegetables, sauces
Cinnamon: Fruits (especially apples), breads, pie crusts
Curry powder: Lean meats (especially lamb), veal, chicken, fish, tomatoes, tomato soup, mayonnaise
Dill: Fish sauces, soups, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, cucumbers, potatoes, salads, macaroni, lean beef, lamb, chicken, fish
Garlic (not garlic salt): Lean meats, fish, soups, salads, vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes
Ginger: Chicken, fruits
Lemon juice: Lean meats, fish, poultry, salads, vegetables
Mace: Hot breads, apples, fruit salads, carrots, cauliflower, squash, potatoes, veal, lamb
Mustard (dry): Lean ground meats, lean meats, chicken, fish, salads, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mayonnaise, sauces
Nutmeg: Fruits, pie crust, lemonade, potatoes, chicken, fish, lean meat loaf, toast, veal, pudding
Onion powder (not onion salt): Lean meats, stews, vegetables, salads, soups
Paprika: Lean meats, fish, soups, salads, sauces, vegetables
Parsley: Lean meats, fish, soups, salads, sauces, vegetables
Peppermint extract: Puddings, fruits
Pimiento: Salads, vegetables, casserole dishes
Rosemary: Chicken, veal, lean meat loaf, lean beef, lean pork, sauces, stuffings, potatoes, peas, lima beans
Sage: Lean meats, stews, biscuits, tomatoes, green beans, fish, lima beans, onions, lean pork
Savory: Salads, lean pork, lean ground meats, soups, green beans, squash, tomatoes, lima beans, peas
Thyme: Lean meats (especially veal and lean pork), sauces, soups, onions, peas, tomatoes, salads
Turmeric: Lean meats, fish, sauces, rice
SOURCE: American Heart Association
Restricing Your Fluid Intake
Fluid restriction is important in the management of heart failure. When too much fluid is taken in, the heart has to work very hard to pump the excess fluid volume which can increase your risk for heart failure and cause shortness of breath, weight gain, swelling of the feet or legs and bloating.
Your doctor may recommend that your daily intake of fluids be limited to 11/2 to 2 quarts (6 to 8 cups) per day.
Daily fluid guide
Keeping track of fluid intake:
- Use a container large enough to hold the total amount of daily fluid your doctor has recommended. Fill the container with that much water. A standard household measuring cup is needed for exact measuring.
- Every time fluid is consumed, measure that much water out of the container. For example, if you are drinking a 1/2 cup of milk, measure a 1/2 cup of water from the container.
- You will have used your daily fluid allowance when the container is empty.
What do I track?
- Count all fluids that you consume. This includes water, coffee, tea, juice, milk, soft drinks, ice cubes, etc.
- Count the fluid in all foods that become liquid at room temperature. Examples include Jell-O, sherbet, ice cream, ice milk, fruit ice, Popsicles and frozen yogurt.
What can I do about a dry mouth?
Suck on hard, sugar-free candy, a lemon wedge, frozen orange sections, frozen grapes or chew on gum to moisten your mouth. Brushing your teeth often will also help.
1 cup = 8 ounces
4 cups= 32 ounces = 1 quart
6 cups = 48 ounces= 11/2 quarts
8 cups = 64 ounces= 2 quarts
Remember, do not exceed your recommended daily fluid allowance.