Several years ago, when I worked in a cardiac unit at a hospital, I was asked to provide nutrition counseling to a man who had recently suffered a heart attack. After we talked about his current habits and what he might wish to change, the man’s wife openly expressed her gratitude for the information. The patient, however, sat with arms crossed and said, “I’d rather die than eat like that.”
Granted, women don’t always change harmful habits, either. But statistics tell us that men typically see their physicians for preventive health services half as often as women. And on average, men die five years sooner than women.
Nutrition is just one topic that men may miss when they fail to show up for health-related visits. Lifestyle choices can have a major effect on heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Where’s a good place for a strong, independent guy to start? Here are some ideas from the Men’s Health Network, a national nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C.:
Eat breakfast. It fires up your metabolism to power your day. Game plan: Whole-grain cereal with fruit or grab a yogurt or healthy granola bar for the road. (Look for health bars with at least two grams of dietary fiber, 10 grams protein and no more than two grams of saturated fat per serving.)
Eat at least one fruit and one vegetable at each meal. They provide healthful carbs to fuel your brain and muscles.
Supersize salads, not meat and potatoes. If your idea of a “portion” of meat is half the cow, it’s time to cut back.
Whole grains, whole grains, whole grains. Whatever grain food you choose — corn, oats, wheat, rye, barley — select those made with the whole seed of the grain. Whole grains supply micronutrients and antioxidants that protect against diabetes and heart disease.
And get this: Men’s health experts say what’s good for your health — nutrition, regular physical exercise and health checkups — is also good for your love life.