Heart Healthy: Start with a healthy diet!

A healthy diet is one of the best weapons you can use to fight against heart disease. What you eat, how much and how often can impact many controllable risk factors, like cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes and being overweight. Keeping a food diary to track the quality and quantity of your food intake is a great way to pinpoint problem-eating patterns and make the changes you need to!

•Don’t wait to write. To get the most accurate impression of what and how much you consume, jot down what you’ve eaten as soon as you eat it. If you wait until the end of the day, it’s likely you’ll forget some of the things you ate earlier. Strive to write down every mouthful of food—even tastes, snacks, and sips—within 15 minutes of consuming it.

•Do get the details. Record relevant important details, including the time of your meal or snack, where you ate, whether you were doing something else while you were eating, and the type of food you consumed—whether, for example, it was a meal from scratch or fast food you picked up on the go. You'll start to notice your patterns quickly!

•Do record portion sizes. Record the specific amounts of each food you eat—for example, 1 cup of orange juice or 3 ounces of chicken. Measure portion sizes with standard measuring utensils and a kitchen scale. This not only helps you track your food consumption but will give you familiarity with standard serving sizes. You’ll probably be surprised by what a 3-ounce serving size of chicken or a half-cup of pasta looks like on your plate. Over time, you can begin to “eyeball” servings more accurately and skip the actual measuring.

•Do let MyPlate be your guide. As you’ll see, half of every meal should consist of fruit and vegetables. Carbs are good, as long as they’re the whole-grain variety. For protein, choose fish, fowl, beans, and nuts over red meat.

You can visit the American Heart Association's website for more tips on heart-healthy eating.