DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is a way of eating that was originally designed for heart patients, but turns out, it’s a great way to eat for everyone! There are so many different eating philosophies out there (Paleo, Atkins…) but this one is doctor recommended and easy to follow without feeling deprived. It requires no specific foods, and allows for a small amount of our favorite treats!
The DASH diet focuses on
- Eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains
- Including fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
- Limiting foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats, full-fat dairy products, and tropical oils such as coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils
- Limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets.
Here’s a great little chart that I found on the National Heart Blood and Lung Institute website:
With the DASH diet, it’s important to get plenty of vegetables and to switch to whole grains. Many Americans do not consume adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. Some tips to increase fruits and veggies in your diet include
- Wash, cut, and package fruits and veggies into individual servings as soon as you get home from the grocery store for snacking. If it’s ready to go, you are more likely to reach for these healthy snacks than if they still needed be prepped.
- Serve veggies as the main dish. Stuffed peppers, anyone?
- Two words: Stir. Fry. Cut the meat in half and pump up the veggies!
Another thing that many American adults to not get enough of is dairy. There are so many specialty diets out there with claims that adults don’t need dairy, or that it’s bad for you. The truth is, a large portion of the adult population may have a deficiency of lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose in dairy foods. People with this deficiency should not eat lactose containing foods BUT many of us (myself included) have no problems at all digesting dairy foods. And adults need dairy too! Calcium is good for your bones, but that’s not all. It’s also a very important nutrient in muscle health and heart health. Calcium is essential in the human body! Be sure to get 2-3 servings of calcium rich dairy every day!
Something that most Americans get plenty of is meat. It’s important in the diet, but can also be high in fat, so the DASH diet recommends that we eat 6 or fewer servings per day. The problem is, what exactly is a serving? Well, one serving of meat could be one egg or 1 oz of meat. We used to hear 3 oz per serving with the recommendation of 2-3 servings per day. If you do the math, it comes out the same.
So, instead of trying to do the 30 Days Whole Foods Challenge, the Atkins diet, Paleo diet or any other crazy hard way of eating that completely eliminates entire food groups- which is not a good thing to do- Try the DASH diet. Easy to follow. No special products. Treat yo-self (occasionally).