When the word “diet” is used, it is most often intertwined with weight loss. While improved dietary habits can lead to weight loss, there is far more to diet than just losing pounds. The truth is that a diet is not supposed to be a temporary change of eating habits. A good diet is a change of lifestyle and conscious decisions about what you are consuming.
DASH Helps Lower Blood Pressure
The Mayo Clinic writes about DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating as a way to improve blood pressure. With this concept, you get the added benefit of a more well-rounded diet that also prevents heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic health issues. Doctors talk a great deal about the DASH diet for all of these benefits to long term health.
The bottom line is that a DASH diet includes more fruits and vegetables with less whole grain, chicken, and fish. Variations of the diet can include even lower levels of sodium depending upon desired results. The important factor to consider is that certain foods can be eaten more liberally, but even red meat, fatty foods, and sweets can be consumed in smaller portions. Portion sizes for DASH dieting generally include:
- Five servings of vegetables per day
- Six servings of grains per day (mostly whole grains)
- Two servings of dairy per day
- Four servings of fruits per day
- Four servings per week of nuts, seeds, and legumes
- Six servings of lean meats, poultry, and fish (including eggs) daily
- No more than three servings of fat or oils daily
In addition to these dietary guidelines, it is important to limit sweets to approximately five servings or less each week. Making gradual changes to add more of the above food categories into your diet can make it easier to maintain DASH as a new lifestyle decision. Plan your eating as much as possible and measure portion sizes to lead to implementing the diet accurately. While weight loss isn’t the primary goal, healthier food decisions lead to weight loss for many people. Talking with your doctor about your current diet reality is definitely the first step toward a healthier tomorrow.