Keeping up a healthy diet is not easy. Parties, office meals, vacations, or even a hectic work or life schedule often come in the way. Sometimes we just “miss” the less healthy options and go back to them. An article in the journal Nutrients found that risk factors for diseases of the heart and blood vessels also called cardiovascular disease closely track with changes in eating patterns, even only after a month or so. The study did find a silver lining.
If you’re inconsistent about what kinds of foods you eat, your risk factors for developing these diseases are going to fluctuate,” said a professor of nutrition science.
During the study, participants adopted a healthy eating pattern for five or six weeks and then had their risk factors for cardiovascular disease measured. The study participants then returned to their normal eating patterns for four weeks and came back for a checkup. After adopting a healthy eating pattern again for another five or six weeks, participants had their risk factors assessed one last time. The results showed that the participants’ health started to improve after adopting a healthier diet even though they were going on and off the healthier diet. It only took a few weeks of healthy eating to see improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol.
Going on and off a healthy diet isn’t an anomaly, it’s the norm. This can lead to repetitive attempts of adopting, but not maintaining, healthy eating patterns. The researchers concluded that “the best option is to keep the healthy pattern going, but if you slip up, try again.”