Timing is everything

Published 8:55 pm Saturday, November 6, 2010

Obesity’s damage: People may not directly correlate what they’re eating with their health, but obesity can cause mental and physical damage.

Eat healthier today

It can be easy to come up with excuses to procrastinate changing your diet for the better.

With the holidays around the corner, there’s even more incentive for people to hold off changes.

Save yourself the extra post-holiday work that will result from not making minor changes now. Use the American Heart Association’s national “Start! Eating Healthy Day” as an excuse to kick healthy eating into high gear.

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“Fifty percent of our health is based on our lifestyle,” said Matt Manock, sales director of the eastern region of Virginia for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. “What we drink, what we smoke, our exercise and what we eat all greatly impact our health. It’s not heredity, and it’s not genetics.”

“Start! Eating Healthy Day” was on Nov. 3, but there’s still time to learn healthier eating habits before the holidays.

“I’m not a dietician, but it’s like my mom said — everything in moderation,” Manock said. “It’s about portion size and paying a little closer attention to what’s on your plate.”

People may not directly correlate what they’re eating with their health, but obesity can cause mental and physical damage.

Physically, it can exponentially increase your chance for heart disease, diabetes or other chronic diseases, and even cause joint and muscle problems.

Mentally, it can slow you down and stress you out.

“If you don’t have a healthy lunch, you don’t have the energy you need to be alert,” Manock said. “Your body uses food for fuel and energy, and if it isn’t getting the right nutrients, it can have a negative effect. There’s a direct correlation between what you eat and how you feel.”

So, make your New Year’s resolution early this year, before you give yourself more work to do after the holiday.

Here are the top three ways the American Heart Association recommends to start making heart-healthy choices.

1. Start by spreading the word.

Send emails to your friends and family from encouraging them to commit to making healthier food choices and to help support the fight against heart disease and stroke. Having a support system in place can be a great motivation for everyone involved.

2. Start eating healthy.

Download a Start! holiday healthy eating guide. This guide features flavorful and healthy holiday recipes, tips on how to stay healthy while at work and information on all of Start!’s great healthy living tools. It can be as easy as leaving the whipped cream off your hot chocolate. Get together with your coworkers and plan a potluck lunch with heart-healthy recipes.

3. Start sharing the message.

Add a nutrition widget to your website, blog or social networking page to share tips on eating healthy with all your friends and family. Nutrition widgets are interactive tools that provide healthy eating tips and links to other American Heart Association nutrition resources. These tools can be easily added to intranet pages, personal websites and blogs or to social networking sites such as Facebook.

Visit www.startwalkingnow.org/starteatinghealthyday for more information on “Start! Eating Well.”