How to Stick to a Lasting Healthy-Heart Diet? Tips to Make Lifestyle Changes That Last

Heather Campbell
 min read

Knowing how to stick to a lasting healthy-heart diet is important to ensure best results.

How to Stick to a Lasting Healthy-Heart Diet? Tips to Make Lifestyle Changes That LastJust following a diet now and then doesn’t bring long-term results and is insufficient to bring lasting change.

As a general rule, heart-friendly eating will only be effective if consistently maintained over the long term. Don’t skip breakfast, allow 3 hours to pass between meals, limit your portions, eat veggies, and be physically active on a daily basis.

It may take some persistence and discipline to permanently transform your eating habits into a more heart-friendly version, especially in the first few weeks and months.

This is undoubtedly the case for someone who is used to eating high-fat foods.

Below, we present you with helpful tips and guidelines to start eating healthier sustainably.

Continue reading and learn how to stick to a lasting healthy-heart diet.

How to stick to a lasting healthy-heart diet: Introduction

Several tools can lend a hand in making the switch to a healthier lifestyle.

Think about putting structure and regularity into your culinary habits.

So absolutely do not skip breakfast or other meals, but stick to the 3 major mealtimes daily, supplemented with healthy snacks.

Related postHow to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease? Prevention Tips & Lifestyle Changes

Don’t skip breakfast

Both early risers and long sleepers do well to eat breakfast.

Do so within the hour of waking up. This is important because it signals your body to get the burning going.

Those who wait longer to eat breakfast allow the metabolism to doze off, consuming fewer calories.

Also, if you’re up late, it’s not a good idea to go straight to lunch.

It is better to still have your breakfast, for example, at 11 o’clock, and then your lunch at 1 or 2:30 p.m., to continue following the usual routine afterward.

Even those who live irregularly will benefit from incorporating some regularity into their mealtimes.

Allow up to 3 hours between mealtimes

It is best to leave a maximum of three hours between each meal or snack. This guideline of 3 hours maximum interval was not chosen haphazardly.

Suppose you consume a regular, not too large portion at breakfast or another meal. In that case, you will have refueled energy for about 3 hours.

Afterward, you run out of those reserves, and a hunger surge can occur. Then, if you don’t eat something again, your body will switch the burning back to a slower pace.

In other words, your body will be more economical with the energy present, which means you will consume less.

So it’s crucial to permanently stimulate that calorie burning, which is why it’s best to eat something healthy every 3 hours.

Overweight people make the most mistakes

The mistake of waiting too long between meals, not eating breakfast, or skipping other main meals is often made in practice by overweight people.

Unfortunately, this has a double negative effect on people of a larger size.

Their metabolism and calorie burning are on the back burner because they put off eating for too long.

The hunger pangs, which have now been firmly established, mean that they eat much more than they actually need to when they eat again.

The result is that they gain more weight by eating fewer meals and they eat more when their body can process less (because the metabolism is in a lower gear).

Slower burning is a genetic pre-programmed survival mechanism

The ability to slow our metabolism is inherent in how our body cells have been programmed for hundreds of years.

For thousands of years, man faced one famine after another. The human body defended itself against those difficult hardships by temporarily turning down the burn each time.

As soon as the human body senses that no new food is being supplied, the handbrake is applied, and combustion almost stops.

That survival mechanism was necessary for the survival of the human species for many years. Only in the last century has this changed, and we have fewer, if any, famines in the Western world.

But that evolution is far from having taken place in our body cells. These continue to function and react as they have successfully done for thousands of years.

Don’t ruin your night’s sleep by eating too late

For optimal metabolism, it is best to take your last main meal of the day no later than 2 hours before you go to bed.

Make sure you’ve eaten your evening meal well before bedtime, so you definitely don’t go to sleep on a full stomach.

It will promote your sleep and reduce the risk of gastric distress, reflux, and other ailments.

Many people who eat hearty meals too late risk ending up in a vicious circle.

This leads to a poor night’s sleep, a bad mood, and little appetite in the morning. And that’s how you get into the wrong eating pattern.

On the other hand, if you stop eating on time the night before, you will just get up with a healthy appetite, automatically making you hungry for breakfast.

Small portions versus large portions: Heart friendly food

It’s not just what we eat that counts for a heart-friendly diet. Quantities also play an essential role in how to stick to a lasting healthy-heart diet.

Portion size is important for overweight people

First and foremost, portions play a role for all people who are overweight people and have excess pounds to contend with.

Too often, we are not sufficiently aware of the size of our meal portions and these have grown almost imperceptibly but systematically over the past few decades with the result that we effectively eat more.

This is especially true for edibles such as meat, whose daily consumption must be limited. That means 1 reasonably thin piece of meat, nothing more.

Seventy grams of meat per day is actually sufficient for an adult, but this is not feasible for many.

In practice, we are a little more lenient and allow a maximum of 150 grams of meat per day.

Often, the guideline given is that you should not take in more meat than the amount that would fit in the palm of your hand.

Plate size and physical activity also play a significant role

To determine the most appropriate meal portion, 2 factors not from the refrigerator also play an important role:

  • The size of your plate, and
  • The degree to which you are physically active

The foundation of a healthy diet still remains sufficient physical activity and exercise.

The more physical activity, the more energy (calories) your body is allowed and required to take in.

The trend of serving our meals on ever-larger plates was the hidden cause that caused us to start eating more, partly unconsciously.

Several scientific studies have already demonstrated the link between plate size and the amount of food we eat.

The bigger the plate people get, the more they will spoon up. So the guideline for a heart-friendly diet states that ideally, you should empty one plate per meal.

This means a standard, classic plate, not an extra-large one.

Those who have difficulty correctly estimating their portions are better off choosing a slightly smaller plate.

In doing so, you notice much faster when you take too much food. Moreover, it also has a psychological effect.

After all, a small plate gives the impression that you are still being served a hearty portion, while in reality, it is limited.

Scoop similar portions onto an XL or XXL plate, and you’ll barely notice them. In fact, they’ll seem especially small, making you inclined to take some more.

The ideal composition of a healthy meal

The ideal composition of a healthy meal consists of a plate with 50% vegetables, 25% with meat, fish, or their substitutes, and 25% with starch sources such as potatoes, pasta, etc.

The latter group of starch sources is too often and unjustly dropped. Starch is associated with carbohydrates which are known to be fattening.

But they also account for more than 50% of our daily energy supply, so we definitely need these energy sources.

If possible, give preference to high-fiber starch sources, such as whole grains, as much as possible.

In short, how to stick to a lasting healthy-heart diet is also paying attention to portion size, varying it enough, not skipping mealtimes, and making wise choices, combined with adequate exercise.

Multigrain versus whole wheat

Anyone who steps into a bakery or supermarket today will be overwhelmed by various bread types.

All kinds of multigrain breads have appeared in recent years and found their way toward our taste buds.

But are all species equally healthy? Do they all contain healthy fiber? What to look out for?

Well, multigrain is certainly not a substitute or synonym for whole wheat as it refers to the presence of several grains.

But if those are all filtered out beforehand, they don’t add any additional fiber at all. After all, those fibers are then removed from the grains.

Brown bread also does not automatically mean whole-wheat bread. Very often, breads are colored brown by adding dyes or ingredients such as syrup.

Multigrain bread often looks more like white bread than whole wheat or dark bread.

Baking your own whole wheat bread: Tip

Do you really want to play it safe and ensure you have the proper nutrients? Then baking your own whole-wheat bread is an excellent option.

Many handy bread-making machines mean that this is no longer such a big job today.

It requires some searching to find the suitable composition that best suits your taste.

But after some searching, you’ve undoubtedly acquired a taste for homemade, fresh, whole-wheat bread and will be on your way.

Another advantage of homemade bread is its low salt content compared to industrially made bread, which typically tastes much saltier.

Good bread choices: Examples

  • Rye bread
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Cereal flakes with bran
  • Muesli
  • Brown bread
  • Whole wheat rusks
  • Brown bread rolls
  • Milk bread based on skim milk or soy
  • Brown buns
  • Crispbread
  • Whole wheat cereal flakes
  • Homemade waffles or cake prepared with little fat and eggs (occasionally)
  • Brown soy bread

Lesser bread choices

  • White bread
  • Fantasy bread made with whole milk and eggs such as:
    • Chocolate bread
    • Raisin bread
    • Sandwiches
    • Sugarloaf
    • Milk bread
    • Currant bread
  • Ready-made crepes, pancakes, and waffles
  • Croissants
  • Stuffed cakes
  • Pastries

Eating the same food but prepared differently

Consider pasta salads, a poultry ragout, a rice dish, a pita, a hamburger, a stew, etc.

Will all those treats essentially be a thing of the past if you choose a heart-friendly way of eating?

No, thankfully not! Delicious food can still be eaten. Even your favorite dishes can continue to be eaten comfortably!

In fact, it is an absolute necessity if you want to make a lasting and permanent change in your diet.

After all, many classic and popular dishes can be prepared more healthily with a few modifications.

In theory, almost anything can still make it onto the plate, as long as it is cleverly prepared.

The older, traditional way of cooking, with lots of cream butter and saturated fats, should be ignored.

But the good news is that this can be done perfectly, with no loss of flavor.

Numerous examples from everyday cooking show that such a thing is within everyone’s reach.

You don’t have to be a certified chef or go on a scavenger hunt for unique or rare ingredients.

It comes down to taking a moment beforehand to think about how to prepare something.

You should also consider the ingredients you use and the possible healthy alternatives available.

Those healthier alternatives are almost always there. You just need to discover them and integrate them into your dishes.

And it’s easier than you might initially think!

How to stick to a lasting healthy-heart diet: Conclusion

Just paying attention to your diet doesn’t help. Heart-friendly eating is only effective if applied over the long term and consistently maintained.

Be sure not to skip breakfast or other meals and stick to the traditional 3 major mealtimes daily, supplemented with healthy snacks to keep the metabolism and burn going well.

Finally, the most essential guidelines for a heart-friendly diet in a nutshell:

  • Ideally, there should be a maximum of 3 hours between each meal or snack.
  • Do not use XL or XXL plates because this will make you unconsciously spoon up larger portions.
  • The ideal composition of a healthy meal consists of a plate with 50% vegetables, 25% meat or fish or substitutes, and 25% starch sources such as potatoes, pasta, etc.
  • Eating a little more is okay if you compensate with more exercise and sports.
  • Cooking differently is an integral part of sensible and heart-friendly eating. The same food but prepared differently is crucial to your success. Starting to cook healthy is a succession of small, intelligent choices in preparing your meals and dishes.

Related post: Heart-Healthy Diet Tips & Recommendations to Prevent Heart Disease

About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More