by Donna Quirk, MBA RD LD
LMC Clinical Nutrition Manager
May is High Blood Pressure Education Month. Are you having your blood pressure checked? There are frequently no warning signs or symptoms of increasing blood pressure. Unfortunately, its long term effects lead to heart and kidney disease, stroke, and blindness.
High blood pressure can be prevented and controlled with sound food choices, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. Let’s start with your weight.
The best way to lose weight is to do so gradually, get more exercise, and eat a balanced diet that is lower in calories and fat. Even small amounts of weight loss can significantly improve your blood pressure and your health!
What’s a healthy weight for you? Calculate your BMI here. “BMI” stands for Body Mass Index. You can figure out yours by entering a few simple pieces of information, your height and weight.
First, determine what you are usually eating by keeping a food journal. Awareness of what you are eating and when can really open your eyes to calories you may not need.
Second, decrease your calorie intake by:
-Using half as much vegetable oil, soft or liquid margarine, mayonnaise, or salad dressing, or choose available low-fat or fat-free versions.
-Eating smaller portions—cut back gradually.
-Choosing fat-free or low-fat milk, milk products, and cheese.
-Limiting foods with lots of added sugar, such as pies, candy bars, ice cream, sherbet, regular soft drinks, and fruit drinks.
-Snacking on fruit, vegetable sticks, unbuttered and unsalted popcorn, or rice cakes.
-Drinking water and other sugar-free beverages.
And third, work up to 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise daily. Start gradually. Try different activities to add variety and avoid straining one part of your body day after day. Set goals and enjoy your accomplishments!
To develop a weight-loss or weight-maintenance program that works well for you, consult with your doctor or registered dietitian.