Tag Archives: slim down

Show Your Heart Some Love by Eating Smart and Moving More

Valentines Day isn’t the only holiday in February. It’s also American Heart Month, which helps raise awareness of heart disease and prevention. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, we should all be interested in healthy lifestyle choices we can make to protect our hearts. Thankfully, showing your heart some love means eating smart, moving more, and slimming down, the same lifestyle choices that help to protect against diabetes and breast cancer.

Eat Heart Smart

Heart Shaped ChooseMyPlate MyPlate

We Heart MyPlate!

What does a Heart-Healthy diet look like? MyPlate! Nourish your heart with a balanced diet that features plenty of:

The DASH Diet in particular has been shown to be especially good for your heart. The DASH Diet is very similar to MyPlate’s recommendations with an even greater emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins, nuts, and seeds, while limiting sodium, sweets, and animal protein foods.

Move More to Get Your Heart Pumping

older woman physical activity heart health

Show your heart some love with physical activity!

Being active helps keep your heart in shape. It’s called cardio for a reason! Any amount of activity is better than none, but getting 30 minutes a day is recommended for good health. If you’re just starting out with moving more, build up slowly until you hit the goal. If you are a regular exerciser, getting up to 90 minutes a day has even more health benefits.

In addition to structured exercise, sitting less throughout the day is helpful for keeping your heart healthy, too. Think of ways to take quick activity breaks, like a walk around the office, a few quick squats, or some light stretching, for every hour or two of sitting. Find ways to walk more when running errands, like parking further away or taking the stairs. All of these small activities add up to a big benefit to our health.

Slim Down to Give Your Heart a Break

Carrying around extra weight is hard on your heart, making it work harder than it should to pump blood around the body. Being at a healthy weight is best, but losing even 5-7% of your bodyweight (just 9-12 pounds for a 175 pound person) is good for your heart health.

If you’re making progress in eating smart and moving more, you’ll likely be slimming down, too. If not, try keeping a food diary and using MyPlate’s Supertracker to see where your diet and physical activity could use a bit more improving.

This Valentines Day, be kind to your heart. Dark chocolate is a great option for a sweet treat that fits into a balanced diet. Plan an active date with your sweetheart, like a winter hike or trip to the roller rink for an old-school couples skate. Get creative to find ways to live heart healthy, this month and throughout the year.

Dear Diary: Why Tracking Your Meals is Eating Smart

Have you ever kept a food diary before? Writing down what you eat is an incredible tool for eating smarter and slimming down. It helps you be more mindful of what and how much you’re eating, allowing you to spot your dietary weaknesses. In fact, keeping a food (and or physical activity) diary is one of the most effective weight loss strategies you can use. Think about it, even if you aren’t planning to change your diet, writing it down makes you think twice. Do I really want to write down that I ate an entire sleeve of saltine crackers? Maybe I’ll just take out 10 and put them away instead. [True story. I have to watch myself around those boring, dry, but somehow irresistible, refined carb goodies.]

Food diaries are also useful if you are doing some food intolerance detective work. For instance, I finally realized I have some lactose intolerance issues after keeping track of what I was eating before my stomach started hurting. Interestingly, I figured out that a glass of milk or bowl of ice cream gave me a stomachache, but yogurt and cheese (which have less lactose due to how they are made) didn’t bother me the same way. I never would have figured that out without keeping track of what I ate.

As you saw in the video, there are several different ways to keep a food diary, traditional pen and paper, using a smartphone or web app, etc. If you are online regularly, MyPlate’s Supertracker is a great program for logging your meals and physical activity. FNP also has a nice Slim Down Food Diary (pictured below) you can use. You just need to find a way that works for you. Figure out something that records as much (or as little) information as you need and is something you can stick with day after day.

food record

Example of a food diary. Printable version linked above.



If you’re trying to slim down, a food diary will help. Let us know how you’re planning on keeping track in the comments.

Bonus Tip: All the same applies for keeping track of your physical activity. Writing down your exercise routines will help you keep track of your progress and motivate you to keep going.

Eat Smart, Move More, Slim Down to Prevent Heart Disease

February is American Heart Month!

Heart Health

This heart looks healthy to me.

Did you know that Americans eat an average of 22 teaspoons of sugar per day? This is about 3 times the recommended maximum amount! A new research study found that eating too much sugar raises your risk of heart disease. The study found that Americans who ate a lot of excess sugar were twice as likely to die from heart disease than those who limited sugar.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Thankfully, heart disease is related to our lifestyle choices, meaning that we can do things to protect ourselves from getting it. You can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease by making simple changes that help you eat smart, move more and slim down.

Eat Smart to Prevent Heart Disease

Limit added sugars.

  • Common sources of added sugars are sugary drinks like soda/pop, fruit drinks, sweet tea, energy drinks, and sports drinks; and sweets such as cakes, cookies, and dessert candy.
  • Some foods also have hidden sources of sugars such as tomato sauce and breads. Be sure to read the ingredient list to look for added sugar.

Reduce sodium.

  • Prepare more meals at home. This way, you can control the amount of salt in your food.
  • Choose no sodium or reduced-sodium foods. If you can’t buy reduced-sodium canned goods, be sure to rinse them.

Eat more fiber.

  • Eat more whole grains such as whole grain breads, cereals, oatmeal, pasta, brown rice, and quinoa, instead of refined grains. Try to make at least half of your grains whole grains.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables. Aim to get at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

Limit cholesterol and saturated fat.

  • Choose lean proteins like chicken, fish, turkey, pork, and lean ground beef (at least 90% lean). Remove the skin from poultry to cut down on saturated fat.
  • Choose more plant-based proteins like beans, legumes, soy, nuts, and seeds.
  • Choose low-fat (1%) or fat-free (skim) dairy products, like milk or yogurt.

Move More to Prevent Heart Disease

More More for Healthy Hearts!

More More for Healthy Hearts!

To reduce your risk for heart disease, aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. This is about 30 minutes on most days of the week.

  • Add some cardiovascular exercises, like walking, jogging, swimming, biking, and hiking, to your daily routine.
  • Strength training is an important part of being active, too.

Slim Down to Prevent Heart Disease

Getting to a healthy weight helps to reduce your risk of heart disease. Obesity increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.

If you are struggling with your weight, the Family Nutrition Program offers a unique weight management program called Eat Smart, Move More, Slim Down. Contact us to find a program near you.

What steps have you taken to keep your heart healthy?

Eat Smart, Move More, Slim Down

How many of you made a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight this year? If you’re like the average American, about half of you readers want to lose weight in 2014. Well, I have great news for you. The Family Nutrition Program has a newly redesigned program to help you meet your weight loss goals called Eat Smart, Move More, Slim Down.

Weight control program from Virginia Family Nutrition Program

Contact us to find a program in your area

In this program, you’ll learn strategies to make small changes to help you look and feel your best. Each session focuses on both basic nutrition concepts and a proven tactic to help you in your weight loss journey.

These tactics include:

The most exciting addition to the Eat Smart, Move More, Slim Down program is our new online support and two free follow-up sessions with a Registered Dietitian.

We created a new Eat Smart, Move More, Slim Down Facebook page so that you can be a part of the online community of other Virginians working to lose weight and get in shape. Here you can ask for advice, share your successes and receive more helpful tips and advice for living a healthier life. We will also be sharing sample meal plans using FNP’s low-cost, tasty recipes as well as short, but effective, exercise routines for beginners.

Each Eat Smart, Move More, Slim Down graduate will also have the opportunity to speak with a Registered Dietitian for expert help in meeting weight loss goals. This can be done over the phone, by Skype or Google video chats, or whatever works best for you. (Due to the high cost of travelling across the state, we cannot offer in-person visits.)

If you are ready to live your dream and tackle your 2014 weight loss resolution, we can help! Contact us by phone at 1-888-814-7627 or by finding a Program Assistant near you to ask about joining the Eat Smart, Move More, Slim Down program.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You may have seen pink ribbons, pink shirts, or even NFL players’ pink gloves already this month, with many organizations using this promotion to help raise money for breast cancer research.

Family Nutrition Program goes pink!

Family Nutrition Program goes pink!

Risk of Developing Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women. (Skin cancer is the first, so don’t forget your sunscreen!). I bet every one of you reading this can quickly think of someone who has been affected by breast cancer.

A study found that 27% of breast cancer deaths can be linked to alcohol use, overweight and obesity. Being overweight or obese had the strongest effect on increasing the risk of dying from breast cancer. (reference)

Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer

This article has lots of information about risk factors and symptoms of breast cancer. Some risk factors, like family history of breast cancer cannot be changed. But others can be changed to help reduce your risk of getting breast cancer.

Eat Smart– There is no specific diet to reduce the risk of breast cancer. But your best bet is to eat smart using MyPlate, getting plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. This type of diet helps keep you healthy and protects against many diseases, not just cancer.

Alcohol– The more you drink, the higher the risk of getting breast cancer. If you do drink, limit to no more than 1 drink per day.

Move More– Being physically active helps reduce your risk of breast cancer, as well as keep you healthy in general. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. This works out to about 30 minutes a day, which is achievable for all of us with a little planning.

Slim Down– Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for preventing breast cancer. If you need help losing weight, contact us at vafnp@vt.edu to see if there is a free Eat Smart, Move More, Slim Down program near you.

Nurse Your Babies– Breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of breast cancer. It also is nature’s perfect (and Free!) food for your baby. WIC does a great job of helping moms breastfeed their babies. Visit their website to see if you’re eligible.

So this month, every time you see the pink ribbon, use it as a reminder to focus on eating smart, moving more and slimming down to reduce your risk of breast cancer.


For more info, visit the CDC’s and the Mayo Clinic’s breast cancer prevention pages.