Sarah Eddy, registered dietitian at Life Care Center of Plainwell
Good nutrition is essential for maintaining health and providing the energy necessary for optimal physical and mental performance. Poor nutrition is a significant risk factor in many of the leading causes of death in the U.S., including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer. A heart-healthy diet includes a variety of foods that are rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber, as well as limiting foods that are high in fat, cholesterol and sodium. Below are some tips for improving your overall nutrition and supporting a heart-healthy lifestyle.
- Lean proteins such as poultry and fish are preferable to red meats. Plant-based items, including legumes and soy foods, are also good sources of protein.
- Select whole grain breads, rolls and cereals instead of white bread, white rice, refined/sweetened cereals or baked goods.
- Aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables each day to reap the benefits of their vitamin, mineral and fiber content.
- Use low-fat/non-fat milk and dairy products in place of whole milk, regular butter and cream.
- Use small amounts of unsaturated oils (i.e., olive, canola, sunflower and peanut oils). It’s also best to use soft margarines or vegetable oil spreads in place of butter, shortening or tropical oils (i.e., coconut and palm oils).
- Limit eating fast foods. Instead, create meals that include lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Packing your own lunch can help you control what you are eating when you are away from home.
- Avoid frequent snacking of high-fat foods between meals (like potato chips, butter-flavored popcorn, snack mixes and regular crackers).
- Canned foods, frozen foods, snack foods, pre-made mixes, deli meats, some cheeses, pickles and condiments are all salty foods that should be consumed sparingly. Aim for less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day and to consume foods with no more than 140 milligrams per serving.
- To add flavor to foods, try adding a variety of herbs and spices in lieu of salt.
- Eating a wholesome breakfast in the morning may help curb hunger and encourage better food choices throughout the day. Some breakfast ideas include oatmeal with berries, an English muffin with jam or jelly, low-fat yogurt or an egg white omelet with onion, green bell pepper and mushrooms!
What do we do for patients on therapeutic diets?
Life Care’s cardiac diet is designed to limit residents’ intake of sodium, total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. This diet provides at least 1,500 calories per day, with less than 30% of total calories from fat. Menus are carefully analyzed and followed to ensure diet compliance and encourage the best health outcomes in our residents. By providing proper therapeutic nutrition, like the cardiac diet, it supports the work of the interdisciplinary team – from nursing to physical and occupational therapies. The dietary department works tirelessly to ensure residents are satisfied with their meals. The director of dining services and registered dietitian regularly collaborate to improve menu items and create a variety of flavorful dishes that residents can savor and enjoy.