Posted on April 17, 2014
If your first thought was that the DASH diet is something the Kardashian sisters invented to market along with their DASH stores, it’s time to put the remote down! DASH actually stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. (Hypertension is the fancy way of saying high blood pressure). DASH is not a short term diet and the goal is NOT weight loss. It is a “lifestyle change”, and hey, if you lose weight, that’s great!
The DASH diet is endorsed by the Mayo Clinic, The American Heart Association, and other health bigwigs so you know this isn’t another fad. Dash diet earned the #1 diet ranking from US News & World Report 2011 through 2014. It encourages a healthy approach to lowering sodium, eating vitamin andnutrient rich whole foods, and foods that contain lots of potassium, calcium, and magnesium to help lower blood pressure. The emphasis is on portion size. DASH diet is also in line with lowering cholesterol, preventing osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. And because you are eating healthy, portion controlled foods, weight loss is inevitable. You can even buy DASH cookbooks or join support group if you need a little kick in the pants to get started… or stay motivated.
That being said, if you’re lazy, DASH probably isn’t for you. There is some research and studying involved in the beginning which seems fair enough for a “lifestyle change”. There are rules that you need to learn with all the food groups; such as figuring out which produce is full of fiber/potassium/magnesium, measuring portion sizes , and deciphering good fats from bad fats. You will be cooking – this isn’t Lean Cuisine territory. But after a while, it will be a piece of cake (or maybe an organic apple, no cake for you!) Also, if you are a meat lover, take note: dash diet includes poultry and fish but we are talking one ounce portions. Red meat, sweets, and alcohol are consumed sparingly.
So, what are you actually putting in your mouth every day? DASH meal plans emphasize a good balance of portion controlled fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and low fat dairy. Mix that with a little poultry, fish, and lean meats. And top it off with moderate noshing of nuts, seeds, legumes, fats/oils, and sweets. Dash diet doesn’t require that everything is organic. Your carrots don’t need to come from a farm where they were watered by the tears of grass-fed unicorns. In fact you can even use frozen or canned (check sodium levels) vegetables. And you can make the occasional foray into sugar and/or artificial sweetener land if you just have to have a Diet Coke. So you can stray every once in a while without feeling like a sneaky criminal. Flexibility is always a plus with any diet plan.