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Every year in the United States, about 5 million people suffer from congestive heart failure, according to the Patient Education Institute. Congestive heart failure occurs when your heart is unable to efficiently pump enough blood throughout your body to meet your needs. As a result, fluid may build up in your lungs, feet and ankles forcing your heart to work even harder. Along with medications prescribed by your physician, changing your diet can help decrease fluid build-up and lessen the stress on your heart.

Limit Your Sodium

According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, you should consume no more than 2,000 mg or 2 g of sodium daily. Reading food labels will help you monitor your sodium intake, as many packaged and processed foods are high in sodium. Opt for foods that have 250 mg of sodium or less per serving. Furthermore, if salt or sodium is one of the first five ingredients listed on the label, you should skip that food.

Avoid adding salt to your food during cooking or at the dining table, as one teaspoon of salt contains 2,360 mg of sodium. Instead of salt, look for other creative ways to add flavor to your dishes. Try adding fresh or dried herbs, onion, garlic, or citrus juices. You can even purchase or create your own salt-free seasoning blends. Even if you are accustomed to using a heavy hand on the salt shaker, in time your taste buds will adjust to a lower sodium diet.

Limit Your Fluids

Your physician may limit how much you drink each day, which is also known as fluid restriction. Depending on the severity of your condition, your physician will provide you with a specific fluid restriction. If your physician has restricted your fluids, this includes all foods that are liquid at room temperature. According to UPMC, you will have to monitor your beverage intake, as well as the quantity of soup, ice, ice cream, frozen yogurt, gelatin, ice pops, milkshakes, and sherbet you consume daily. If you are on a fluid restriction, measuring and recording your fluid intake is essential, especially as you are learning.

Tips for Managing Your Thirst

If you are on a fluid restrictive diet, you may find yourself feeling thirsty. To quench your thirst, rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash. Sucking on a lemon slice or tart hard candies can help with saliva production. You can also try letting an ice cube melt in your mouth, as you won’t consume ice as quickly as water. Also, ice is more bulky than water, so 1/2 cup of ice only takes up 1/4 cup of your fluid allowance.

Consume an Overall Balanced Diet

Follow a diet plan that is low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. Also, make sure that you get adequate fiber in your diet. Eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains will help you consume enough fiber each day. An overall balanced diet will keep your weight and arteries in check.

Monitor Your Weight

To properly manage your congestive heart failure, weigh yourself on a daily basis. Weigh yourself at the same time each day, so that you will be able to notice even subtle weight changes. Weighing yourself in the morning after going to the bathroom and before breakfast is ideal. Keeping a weight diary can help you easily track your weight. According to the American Heart Association, gaining three or more pounds in one day or five or more pounds in one week is cause for concern. If this occurs, you should contact your physician as a change in your treatment may be required.

Article by: Lauryn Muller is a registered dietitian who began writing professionally in 2010. Her work has appeared in various online publications. She received a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience from The College of William and Mary, and her Master of Science in nutrition and dietetics from New York University.