5 Tips To Practice Mindful Eating During February, American Heart Month

You probably have heard that your food and fitness choices affect your heart health. You may have made plans to eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, leaner cuts of meat and low-fat dairy.

Temptations are all around us, though. We might be tempted by the treats available at work, sporting events and near the cash register at the grocery store. Ads on TV and Facebook tempt us to buy “easy-to-make” foods that are not necessarily easy on our hearts.

Focus on Mindful Eating

Researchers are studying “mindful eating.” People who eat mindfully focus on what is going on at the moment and are not distracted by other things. These ideas help people make choices that promote good health.

  1. Before you grab a snack, rate your hunger on a 10-point scale (1=not very hungry; 10=very hungry). Are you really hungry, or could you be bored or tired?   Try having a glass of water or cup of tea. You might be thirsty.
  2. Arrange your cupboards to inspire healthy menus. Place brown rice and canned beans in front. If some foods, such as chips and candy, are too tempting to have in your house, leave them at the grocery store.
  3. Make nutritious snack choices “easy choices.” Put whole fruit such as apples, oranges or bananas in your “candy bowl.” Place cut-up fruits and vegetables in your refrigerator ready to grab for snacks. Consider placing them in grab-and-go plastic bags.
  4. Slow down and enjoy your food. You might put on some calm music to slow your pace, so you can experience the flavor and texture of your food.
  5. Turn off electronics (TV, phones, tablets) during mealtime. Avoid multitasking while you eat. You may eat far more food than you plan.

Try this potassium-rich, heart-healthy recipe.  Potassium has many jobs in our body. It allows our nerves to fire and it helps keep our heart beating our muscles moving. Having enough potassium in our diet may keep our blood pressure at a healthy level. In fact, by cutting back on sodium in our diet and increasing potassium-rich foods, we may protect ourselves from stroke. However, do not take a potassium supplement unless your healthcare provider recommends it.

To get enough potassium, aim to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables and have plenty of low-fat dairy as recommended by MyPlate.  Some of the best sources of potassium are sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beans (pinto, lima, kidney, split peas), yogurt, potatoes, bananas, oranges, orange juice, strawberries, raisins, dates, spinach and milk.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

1 pound small, red potatoes (about 12 small potatoes)
2 Tbsp. olive oil or canola oil
½ tsp. crushed, dried rosemary
½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash potatoes thoroughly. Cut in half. Arrange in shallow pan. Drizzle with olive oil and turn to coat well. Sprinkle with rosemary and salt. Stir to mix well. Bake uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender (25 to 35 minutes).

Makes four servings. Each serving has 140 calories, 7g fat, 3 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber and 290 mg sodium.

Note:  use about three times the amount of fresh herbs to replace dried herbs. In this case, about 1 ½ teaspoons of chopped fresh rosemary would be used to substitute for dried.

Menu Idea:   Mixed greens salad, Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, Meatloaf, Baked Apples.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a professor and food and nutrition specialist with the NDSU Extension Service.