If your diet was poor before having a pulmonary embolism (PE), your healthcare professional will likely recommend making some changes to how you eat to reduce your risk of another event. A heart-healthy diet may also help you control your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol, all of which are factors in heart disease. Start with the following guidelines to see how simple, delicious, and fun it can be to eat well!
Get familiar with heart-healthy eating basics
You may be wondering why you should eat a heart-healthy diet when PEs don’t affect your heart. Well, to start, the American Heart Association recommends following certain diet guidelines because they can help you lower blood pressure and cholesterol, control your weight, and reduce your risk for diabetes—all of which are risk factors for diseases of the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease), which include PE.
- Limit unhealthy fats and sodium
- Avoid sugary and processed foods
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Choose whole grains
- Choose low-fat protein sources
Understand portion size
Did you know that meal portions have nearly doubled in the last 20 years? Thankfully, help to remember how much you should be eating is as close as your hand!
- 3 oz lean protein, like fish or chicken = a deck of cards
- 1 cup fresh fruit or vegetables = a tennis ball
- 1 serving of potatoes, rice, or pasta = an ice cream scoop
- 1 oz of peanut butter or cheese = your thumb
At mealtime, it also helps to eat from a salad plate rather than a full-size dinner plate. Fill up half your plate with vegetables and divide the other half between lean protein and grains or starch.
Treat yourself! (Occasionally)
Eating well doesn’t mean you can never have your favorite foods again. When you’re regularly making healthy choices, you can feel better about treating yourself when the occasion arises.
It’s easier to control how often and how much you eat when you plan meals and snacks ahead of time. Try making a weekly menu with what you’ll eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.
Drink alcohol in moderation
Not only can alcoholic beverages add up to more calories, too much can have negative effects on your health. Try to stick to no more than one drink per day for women, and no more than two drinks per day for men.