Updated August 02, 2015.
Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.
11 Ways to Incorporate a Healthy Diet into Your Routine
A stroke is often related to cerebrovascular disease and cardiovascular disease. This means disease in the blood vessels of the heart and the blood vessels of the brain. Narrowing, stiffening and cholesterol buildup inside the blood vessels can lead to blot clots, which cause stroke. These conditions have a hereditary component but can be exacerbated by certain lifestyle habits.
A healthy diet low in junk food, cholesterol and saturated fats has been associated with lower stroke risk. Exercise, smoking cessation and lowering stress and anxiety are also healthy habits that can help decrease the risk of stroke. When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, changing habits is key. One of the difficulties with changing lifestyle habits is that habits are just that- habitual. It is always easier to follow the path of least resistance and to continue doing what you are doing than to switch gears and adopt new habits, even when you know the new habits will be beneficial. One of the reasons the bad habits started in the first place is because they are easier.
A great strategy to adopting healthy eating habits is to work on making healthy habits convenient so that healthy eating can become an easier part of your daily routine.
How to Incorporate a Healthy Diet into Your Routine
One of the roadblocks to maintaining a healthy diet is convenience. Healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables have a shorter shelf life than junk food, which is made to last.
Additionally, junk food is often pre-cooked or very easy to prepare. Staying stocked up on fresh fruits an vegetables requires frequent shopping and meal planning in order to eat or prepare the fresh food before it spoils.
So what is the solution for healthy eating?
*1. Create a healthy menu of meals and snacks so you won't have to think about healthy recipes to prepare or eat when you are rushed or hungry. You could create a menu for the whole week prior to your grocery shopping.
*2. Put healthy items on your shopping list to avoid impulse purchases. Make sure you think ahead about ingredients for your menu and include enough healthy snacking options.
*3. Eat before you go grocery shopping. When you are hungry while shopping, you may be tempted to stock up on ready-made food and junk food.
*4. Pay attention to the cost when you shop. One of the deterrents to eating healthy is that some fresh produce can be expensive. But they do not have to be. In-season fruits and vegetables tend to be less costly. When produce is in season- it tends to taste better too.
*5. Stock up on frozen or canned produce, especially items that you plan to bake or boil because most vitamins and minerals are maintained in canned or frozen fruits and vegetables. Opt for choices with little or no preservatives, artificial sauces or juice.
*6. Don't buy too much junk food when you shop. Calculate the cost that you are saving with each purchase that you pass up and consider saving on an account for a luxury purchase, an enjoyable outing or a contribution to a good cause. However, some favorites are ok. When you don’t have any on hand, you might crave some items so much that you could end up buying fast food or raiding the vending machines while you are out. This can be unnecessarily costly, when in reality, just some ice cream at home would have satisfied your sweet tooth.
*7. Avoid buying foods just because they are healthy- stick to the healthy choices you like. You could end up paying for a few types of vegetables that you don’t enjoy simply because you know they are healthy. Remember, you do not have to eat every type of healthy item, just a reasonable variety.
*8. Cut up fruit and veggies for yourself in the morning to last all day. This will put healthy food on par with junk good for convenience.
*9. Decide ahead of time how much of each type of item you should have for the day. For example, if donuts are your weakness, you could decide how many are suitable for you ahead of time, and make sure you have enough healthy satisfying food available and on hand so that donuts aren’t the only item to turn to when you are hungry.
*10. Consider using a fitness app on your phone or electronic device. Many of them track your calories as well as your intake of vitamins, minerals, protein and types of cholesterol. You can watch your progress throughout the day. After a few days or weeks, you can decide to adapt some habits to achieve healthier results. This way you can see for yourself how many donuts you can have and still maintain adequate calories and vitamins and minerals. You can see if you are having too much fat or too little protein and swap some of your regular go-to items.
*11. If you need to have some less healthy ingredients on hand for special recipes, keep them in less convenient storage in the kitchen and keep healthier items in more accessible spots.
Overcoming the inconvenience of eating healthy is a great first step to stroke prevention and recovery.