As we dive into another unpredictable fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Heart Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives for all, urges people to take time to nurture their body and mind for better overall health.
“After the past several months disrupted many of our typical routines, this fall is a great chance to reset and resume a more consistent work, school and family schedule.
Start small by committing to eating more meals together as a family, said Anne Thorndike, M.D., MPH, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
“Routines can be a good way to provide structure and clarity during busy or stressful seasons, so scheduling in meals at home or regular exercise is not only good for physical health, but good for managing stress as well.”
When it comes to mealtime, there are plenty of clever ways to add in nourishing ingredients, reminds Bridget Wojciak, director of Nutrition at Kroger Health.
“It is a helpful frame of mind to ask yourself what you can add to a meal instead of taking away, like mixing in zucchini noodles with traditional noodles or adding in shredded vegetables to sauces or soups,” Wojciak said.
“Experiment with new recipes and new preparations and see what works best for your family.”
In addition to using mealtime to intentionally connect, the American Heart Association offers these healthy tips for a healthier fall:
- Unplug to connect: September is a great reminder to eat regular meals at home with family. Family meals reduce stress, boost self-esteem and make the whole family feel connected.
To help families have more fun at mealtime, the American Heart Association has conversation topics that are great for all ages.
- Savor seasonal flavors: Fall brings new seasonal produce and recipe inspiration for family meals. Sign up to receive a free cookbook with heart-healthy, delicious recipes from the American Heart Association and Kroger Health.
- Spend time outside: Take advantage of cooler temperatures by spending time outdoors for better physical and mental well-being.
Spending time outdoors has been shown to reduce stress and improve mood. If you have a pet, get moving together! It’s a win-win for the health of you and your pet.
- Shop smart: Grocery shopping can be overwhelming, no matter the season. To find foods that can be part of a heart-healthy eating pattern, keep an eye out for the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark.
- Give thanks: Chronic, or constant, stress can have a negative impact on health, so it’s important to build in habits to reduce stress.
One great place to start is by practicing gratitude. Write down three things you’re grateful for each day, or reach out to a friend or family member and tell them how much you appreciate them.
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