My Mom, My Heart: My Tips for Women’s Heart Health

I write this today, February 15, 2014, on my beloved mother’s birthday.  She had her first heart attack in October of 2003.  She died of a second heart attack three months later in January of 2004.  A day after her death, in a fog of grief and disbelief, I answered a call from her cardiologist’s office.  He wanted her to switch cholesterol medications because her cholesterol was still high in spite of the current medication she was taking.  Cholesterol medication?  I wasn’t aware she had been diagnosed with high cholesterol.  My mother had never taken a statin before.  She had never mentioned that she had high cholesterol.  Is that because she didn’t know?  Hadn’t she been screened before then?  She was 70 years old.  Certainly lab work had been done prior to her collapse on the kitchen floor.

I still don’t know the answers to those questions. But what I do know is women die of heart disease every day – without knowing the risk heart disease poses to them. According to the American Heart Association, 46% of women are unaware that heart disease is the greatest health problem facing women today.   That’s a staggering number for such a killer disease – a disease that kills 1 in 3 American women.  And for the aging female, that risk increases with declining estrogen levels.  What’s a woman to do?

  • Know your numbers!  I’m sure you have heard that phrase before, but it helps to know what you’re starting with so you can plan (see next action step) where you’d like to end up:  cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar to name a few.
  • Develop an eating plan from the heart, then heartily commit to it.  Are you eating too much salt?  How often do you eat out?  Do you eat a lot of highly processed foods?  Identify 3 things in your diet that need improving and start there.  Trying to change too many things at once can be overwhelming.
  • Bust a move for your heart!  Exercise lowers your blood pressure, helps you lose weight, increases your good cholesterol (HDL), reduces your bad cholesterol (LDL), and increases your insulin sensitivity.  Yes, we’re all busy, but make time.  If you don’t make time for yourself, no one else will.  So start by taking a walk – it’s easy, it’s free, and can be done almost anywhere.

I have a constant ache in my heart since losing my mother – an ache that’s eased by many wonderful memories.  I had the good fortune of being born to a woman I loved and respected.  She would want me to be healthy.  She would want me to “Go Red” for women.  I want ALL women to “Go Red.”

Bites

Eaton Wright Bite

What is “Certified Eaton Wright BITE?”

There’s so much hype in the nutrition and wellness world. What’s believable? What’s reliable? Can you trust the information printed on a product? Promoted by the latest television ad? Written about in all the celebrity magazines?

“Certified Eaton Wright BITE” is the official seal given to those things that promote a healthy lifestyle. It might be a particular food or product, a recipe, the latest research study from the world of science, even a person who offers up a “bite” of reliable, good-for-you advice. Rest assured: I’ve done the research, asked the necessary questions, and sniffed out the imposters and blatant misrepresentations.  You’ll find this seal wherever….

Beat the Heat: Tips to Stay Hydrated

942324f86959086d7404354007dd2969

Summer has arrived in  Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. As Marilyn Monroe  once sang, “We’re having a heat wave.”  Most  people are outside, enjoying a break from the cold Chicago winter—riding bikes, taking a walk, serving it up in a game of tennis. With  the summer heat often comes high humidity, and a combination of both  can bring on a heat-related illness.  read more

Local dietitian offers tips

nuts

Q&A with Lisa Eaton Wright, registered dietitian, adjunct instructor at Benedictine University in Lisle and spokesperson for the Illinois Dietetic Association.  Q: Why do people eat more around the holidays?

A: People tend to eat more around the holidays simply because there are more eating opportunities. It is the holiday season after all, and celebrations tend to revolve around food. It’s important to note that there are some studies that show the average weight gain during the winter holidays is just one pound. Unfortunately, eating more around the “holidays” means more than just Thanksgiving and Christmas — the holiday season extends through the New Year.  read more

Health & Nutrition Fair at Villa St. Benedict

LisaatFair

Last week, Villa St. Benedict in Lisle took advantage of the great partnership it has with Benedictine University.  This alliance brings interesting and healthy activities to the seniors who live at VSB. One of the events enjoyed by both the residents and the BU students is the Health & Nutrition Fair.  read more

A Dietitian Reflects on the Recent Nutrition Conference

FNCE-Opening-Session

I, too, was in San Diego in late September for the American Dietetic Association’s Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE). I was excited and energized by all things FNCE and couldn’t stop Tweeting about it.  Apparently, I was the top Tweeter at FNCE!  I am a registered dietitian/nutritionist.  And before I married “Mr. Wright,” I was Lisa Eaton.  Now I’m Lisa Eaton Wright – destined for the nutrition field, no?!  read more

What’s All the Fuss About School Lunch?

Most kids who  eat lunch at school participate in the National School Lunch Program  (NSLP).  According to recently released  statistics, the NSLP served over 31 million lunches in 2008.  That’s a lot of lunches!  And that’s a lot of students. Any school that  participates in the NSLP receives cash subsidies and donated commodities  (foods) from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Schools participating in the NSLP must meet  the 2005 Dietary Guidelines that require that lunches have no more than 30% of  calories from fat and less than 10% from saturated fat. School lunches must  also provide one-third of the Recommended Dietary Allowances of protein,  vitamins A and C, calcium, iron and calories.  read more

School Lunch Program: Food for Thought

Families across the country are often made up of two working parents whose children frequently depend upon lunch prepared at school to meet at least one-third of their daily nutritional needs. How do we ensure that our children receive the healthy lunch they deserve? By making changes to the school food environment that enhance the health and wellness of our children. read more

Positive Changes in School Lunch Requirements

Lemont Patch

The Illinois Dietetic Association offers tips for promoting healthy food at home – in keeping with recent changes in the National School Lunch Program. read more