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What Diet Should I Follow?

As a heart failure patient, the idea of a medically restricted diet can be overwhelming. It is easy to think there is a simple answer to the question "what diet plan should I use?" Between the Keto diet, Paleo diet, veganism, Intermittent Fasting, it is confusing because there are so many options! It is also easier to wrap your head around things if you have clear direction. So, if you are new to the heart failure diagnosis or you perhaps wants to go in a direction with you you eat, what kind of diet should you be following? Having a clear path is admittedly easier.

A few caveats

Some people might have multiple restrictions. For example, if you have artery issues or stents, you might also have to watch your saturated fat or reduce as much as you can. You might also have kidney issues, which has it's own set of rules. Or, people might have additional voluntary considerations. For example, as heart failure patients it's easy to gain weight and we have to watch it, so some people might be trying to lose weight? Some people might also be taking a step further and also looking at inflammation or have other dietary considerations.

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Any diet is just a starting point

It's a framework and it's up to you to customize to any additional dietary considerations and/or taste preferences! And please, don't forget to customize as you like. If you find that you like sour, bitter, smoky, whatever, try to explore that further. In my experience, the more we enjoy something the more we will continue doing it.

For me, the Mediterranean diet was a good place to start

It is more then just low salt, low meat or low carbs. In my experience the Mediterranean Diet looks at the bigger picture emphasizing plant based foods, healthy fats and lean meats. While it's not specifically low sodium, the recipes I have found are low salt. More specifically, the Cleveland Clinic describes the Mediterranean Diet as lots of fresh produce, beans, lentils, whole grains, extra virgin olive oil, and fish. They also recommend occasional cheese and yogurt, with very little meat, especially red meat. Sweets and butter are to be used sparingly. 1

I like this way of eating

As I said though, sometimes I even have to customize including reducing the amount of added salt in recipes. However, because the recipes do not depend on salt for flavoring, I find it definitely palatable. My boyfriend however, sometimes might add salt to his serving(s) because sometimes he finds it bland. I like it because the whole grains means whole fiber, so it reduces the overall carbohydrate load because I am also keeping an eye on the scale. I also like the fruit and veg to make sure I am getting the required nutrients to keep my immune system strong, inflammation down, etc. Lastly, the Mediterranean Diet reduces the amount of saturated fat by limiting dairy and meat, so it's good for my stents.

Personally, when I have tried specific low sodium recipes outside of the Mediterranean Diet, my partner finds some of them bland, and to get more flavor I am having to re-engineer the whole recipe! I have also found that some of these recipes are higher in carbs. Equally frustrating, low carb recipes can be higher in saturated fat and not low sodium. Vegan recipes can be tough to adhere to in the long run and high in carbs! To me, it's about balance and the Mediterranean diet has that.

If you are interest in exploring this, this is the cookbook we started with. Also, if you start trying a new way of eating, please give it time! And remember, just because it worked for me doesn't mean it will work for everyone. Follow the advice of your healthcare provider.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Heart-Failure.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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