Parade: Celebrity

Monday, Nov 12 2012 04:00 PM

Joan Lunden's Top Tips for Keeping Your Family Healthy

By Parade Magazine
Joan Lunden has long been an advocate for healthy living and as a mother of seven, she practices what she preaches.

The former Good Morning America anchor's latest endeavor (besides her new eco-friendly cookware line and working on her new book Live Younger Longer) is educating the nation through Merck's Cholesterol Conversations: It Takes 2, which is a campaign designed to help patients and doctors converse productively about cholesterol as a risk factor in heart health. Learn more about it here.

"That's my passion and my heart: helping educate America so people can make better decisions and keep healthy," Lunden tells PARADE. "Today, a lot of Americans are more conscious of how they shop and how they share meals but I don't know how many people put importance in those 3-5 minutes we get once a year that we get with our doctor."

She recently spoke to PARADE about more tips to ensuring your family's well-being:

Go to the doctor prepared.
"It's almost being like sent into the principal's office and can be intimidating but that's where it all starts. If you don't walk out of your doctor's office without the information you need, you're not guarding your future or your health. We have to remember doctors are humans and operating under the pressure of getting to a certain amount of patients in one days. That's the state of health in America so you have to go in knowing you can't waste that time. You need to be prepared to ask perhaps life-saving questions and go in with a plan of action."

Know your family history.
"We have the holidays coming up so you'll be spending a lot of time with your family, perhaps more time than you would like. You talk to your parents, your grandparents, and your aunts and uncles. Those are the people that would make a difference. Ask them if they've suffered from any chronic illness and what age they started having problems. Those are life-saving pieces of the puzzle to figuring out what your health risks are."

Feel empowered.
"The most important point I would want to get across is that you really do have a tremendous amount of control of your future and longevity. Only 30 percent is heredity so that means 70 percent is in our hands. It doesn't have to be that difficult. It's just small changes in your diet and adding exercise to your life."

Pass it down.
"I make a concerted effort in my home to shop and cook fresh. Four little snack packs got packed for our kids this morning. I give them a choice if they want an apple, banana, or orange. They have to eat one of them. I'm teaching my children to have fruits and vegetables at every meal. That's the best gift I can give them: to teach them how to eat right and understand the importance of staying healthy. We're in charge of creating their lifestyle habits."

Watch your cholesterol!
"I don't think most Americans know how important that is. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease."


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