Weekly Wellness

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COLUMBIA - The chocolates, the wine, the heart-shaped treats... did we indulge a bit? This week, post-Valentine's Day, we will focus on two more strategies for impacting our heart health: food and alcohol.

We all know that "eating healthy" is important. We also usually know what can be considered "good" food and what should be considered "bad." (And usually the "bad" stuff is oh-so-good... therein lies the problem.) It's difficult to change eating habits overnight - it takes time and effort and, quite frankly, a desire.

I have found that we adults can be a lot like larger-sized toddlers when it comes to our food. It's basic: if we don't like it, we aren't going to eat it.

Alcohol can be a difficult hurdle to tackle, as well. There are plenty of reasons why we shouldn't drink alcohol in excess. Alcohol can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, cancer, depression and anxiety.

It can also cause us to gain weight from the alcohol and sugars within the alcohol but it can also trigger an assumed hunger that might not actually be there. (I don't know about you, but I'm fairly certain that I don't NEED to eat an entire take-out pizza. Yet, after consuming a few too many, I'm more likely to order one.)

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers this information with regards to diet and alcohol consumption: Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid CVD and its complications.

Limiting sodium in your diet can lower your blood pressure. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables-adults should have at least five servings each day. Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber.

For more information on eating a healthy diet, visit CDC's nutrition page and ChooseMyPlate.gov.

Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per week, and women to no more than one. For more information, visit CDC's Alcohol and Public Health website.

I challenge you to replace one "bad" food choice with a "good" food choice. If alcoholic drinks are an obstacle for you, I challenge you to drink one less drink per week. Then, after a few weeks, maybe reduce it by another. Maybe challenge yourself to drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage consumed. I challenge you to baby-step toward a healthier you.