February is Heart Health Month and also includes Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
Heart Health is a primary concern for those with disordered eating patterns. Disordered eating can cause heart health to suffer. The links are clear:
• The restriction of calories, food, and beverages causes rapid weight loss, and malnutrition, leading to accelerated muscle loss, and the heart muscle will weaken
• Significant changes or shifts in body weight can cause sudden cardiac arrest with permanent damage to the heart
• Certain disordered eating behaviors harm the electrolyte balance between sodium and potassium, promote dehydration, and may lower blood pressure or cause a slowing of the heart rate all of which are serious problems for heart health
• Binge eating or compulsive overeating may lead to high blood pressure, accumulation of fat deposits around the heart muscle, high cholesterol, diabetes and hormonal imbalances, which are known risk factors for the heart.
Disordered eating is a stress on the body; this stress can affect both physical and emotional health. Here are some suggestions to move into a heart-positive state of mind:
Feed your heart
Feeding your heart means learning to enjoy the power of healthful eating. It means learning to relate to food as nourishing friend, rather than a fattening enemy, and giving you permission to enjoy all foods. Feeding your heart means learning to fuel your body for health and wellness rather than eating in response to emotions –eating because “I’m stressed “ or recreation, as in “I’m bored”. Nourishment is found in our local fruits, vegetables, whole grains and reduced fat milk products.
Move your heart
Moving your heart means returning to the joy of childhood play. It means forgetting the ‘should’ about exercise, and changing the concept from grueling work-out to burn calories for weight loss to zestful playtime. Moving your heart is also the best way to keep physical hunger signals on cue and to naturally lift a sagging sprit.
Love your heart
Loving your heart and the body in which it resides is very hard in our fat-phobic, diet-obsessed world. It means accepting the diversity of human bodies and recognizing that no one should be discriminated against because of the shape of their skin. Loving your heart means celebrating your uniqueness, your many abilities and finally making friends with the mirror on the wall.
This information was adapted from D.Hayes, 1996 Moving Away from Diets.
Paula Martin, MS, RDN, LDN, is a registered dietitian and TLD’s Community Health Coordinator. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org