According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. Every year, 720,000 American’s have a heart attack. Every year, about 600,000 people in the US die due to heart disease.
Alarming and hits close to home, right? Speaking for myself, I know many individuals who live with heart disease, have had a heart attack, and/or died due to heart disease. I believe it’s safe to say that rings true for most of us.
So then, why do our behaviors and habits not support healthier choices?
I have had three instances in the past week that have brought the issue of preparing home cooked meals front and center.
One was a good article I read in Time magazine. Another was a comment from my aunt. She had an office potluck and out of all the dishes only two were homemade. The rest: store bought.
I don’t consider myself to be a great cook, but I do cook. Everyday.
I even frequently sit down at the table for meals with my family. Another habit that seems to have drifted to the wayside.
According to The Statistics Portal, in 2013, 83% of US consumers ate at a fast food restaurant at least once a week and 68% visited a casual dining restaurant at least once a week.
Note the "at least once a week" phrase. Many choose to dine out more often.
Let me bring this around to my point in regards to heart disease"
Fast food and restaurant meals are not typically heart healthy choices. They tend to be high in salt, fat, and calories. All three of these components play a role in heart disease.
This is not new information and there is an easy fix. Prepare your meals at home and control what you put into your body.
Now, when I harp on the need to prepare meals at home, I’m not talking about popping a chicken pot pie into the oven or microwaving a ready-made meal in a bag.
Actually prepare a meal with staples from your pantry. Don’t know how?
There are many recipes available for preparing healthy meals at your fingertips if you search the web. There are even videos and TV shows that will walk you through meal preparation step by step. Once you take the initiative and prepare a couple meals, it gets easier and faster.
I personally like quick and easy meals. I know time is a premium commodity as we are all busy with work and activities, but you can take steps to make eating at home a more regular part of your routine.
Some of my favorite methods to get a meal on the table quick:
- Plan ahead and put together dinner in a slow cooker in the morning. This means no preparation in the evening2. Make a double batch, freeze the extra, and you have your own healthy version of a ready-made meal in a bag for quick and easy reheating.
If you do not typically cook, start gradually by setting a goal to cook at least one or two meals every week for a month. After a month, increase your goal until you are enjoying the majority of your meals at home.
It’s beneficial to stock your pantry and freezer with healthy choices that make spur of the moment meal preparation feasible, such as whole wheat pasta, frozen vegetables, dried fruit, onions, garlic, and spices.
Do you struggle to make changes that “stick”? If so, I encourage you to access “How to Make Heart Healthy Changes into Lifelong Habits” at http://hearthealthmadeeasy.com.
Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides clients step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so they can live life and enjoy their family for years to come. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques. She can be found on Twitter @lisanelsonrd and Facebook at hearthealthmadeeasy.