Winters are that time of the year when everyone loves to indulge in hot desserts. This cold weather makes the body lethargic and you can end up putting on weight. You need to pull your socks up if you want to lose the excess weight. Various diets are in vogue to lose weight and lead a healthy life. One such diet is dash dirt.
DASH or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension is a diet aimed specifically at treating high blood pressure. This diet is capable of curing high blood pressure without any medication. It is so affective that one can notice visible difference in the BP within few weeks of starting this diet, reducing various health related risks.
In this diet it is advised to limit the amount of sodium consumption in your daily meals. Try to use less salt then what you would normally use in your cooking. Another way of reducing the use of sodium is to consume low sodium food. At first you may feel that the taste is different but give some time to your palate to adjust. This can prove to be a herculean task for many but once you master the art of including low sodium in your diet then it will be very beneficial for you in the long run.
Dash diet is of two types:
- Standard DASH diet – Consumption of up to 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day is allowed.
- Low Sodium DASH diet – Maximum level of consumption of sodium allowed per day is 1,500 mg.
Both these diets have a common aim of lowering the amount of sodium in the body.
The main focus of this diet is to give the body proper nutrients that can reduce the risk of blood pressure. It encourages the consumption of food rich in calcium, protein, fiber, potassium and magnesium. Vegetables, wide range of fruits, controlled amount of fish, nuts, poultry, legumes, low fat dairy products and whole grains are part of dash diet.
People who are following this diet need to keep their distance from fatty meats, whole milk butter, cheese, cream and eggs, along with food items prepared from palm and coconut oil as they contain saturated fats. Fat content can be kept low in grain by not adding cheese, butter or cream to it.
Keep on experimenting with your food and try to include as much fruits and vegetables in your diet as possible. You can increase or decrease the amount of fruits or vegetables as per your nutritional requirements of the day. Vegetables can be substituted in place of meat whenever necessary. You can munch on an apple or have other fruits to satisfy your hunger pangs. Fruits can also be eaten after having a meal. Don’t peel fruits like apple and pear as they contain fiber and many healthy nutrients. If you are on medication then certain fruits may react to that medication. In such scenarios it is advisable to consult the doctor.
People who are lactose intolerant can choose lactose free products or they can opt for other substitutes. To reduce the amount of calories in your diet try to bake, grill or roast instead of frying the food. If you are using bread then look for the one that has 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat content.
It is widely believed that nuts have fat content but many people don’t know that they actually contain healthy fat- monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, eating nuts in moderation is actually good for you. Healthy fats are important for body as it absorbs essential vitamins and maintain body’s immune system. But be aware of using excess fat as it can increase your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
The DASH diet tries to strike a healthy balance between body’s requirements and the food items consumed.
What to Eat?
Dash Diet consists of a healthy mix of fruits, veggies, fats and oils, grains, dairy products as well as legumes, seeds and nuts. In order to shed extra kilos proper diet needs to be followed. The following table shows the adequate amount of food intake for a person following dash diet.
Grains (bread, rice, pasta and cereal)
6 – 8 per day
Vegetables (fiber and vitamin rich sweet potato, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes)
4 – 5 per day
Dairy (low fat or fat free cheese, yogurt, milk)
2 – 3 per day
Fruits (apple, pear, banana)
4 – 5 per day
Fats and oils
2 – 3 per day
Poultry, fish or lean meat
6 one ounce serving per day
Legumes, seeds and nuts (peanuts, almonds, beans, peas, lentils, sunflower seeds and pistachios)
4-5 per week
- Besides lowering blood pressure, this diet prevents diabetes and osteoporosis
- This diet is not specifically for weight loss but still it helps in shedding extra kilos.
- This diet is rich in antioxidants which are believed to prevent or slow down the development of several chronic health problems, such as cancer, heart disease and stroke.
- Legumes, seeds and nuts are good source of fiber, phytochemicals and other important nutrients which can prevent cardiovascular diseases.
Foods to Avoid
- Avoid consumption of alcohol as too much alcohol can increase BP.
- Limit the intake of carbonated drinks, sweets and red meat.
- Processed food has high amount of sodium content. Therefore, try to avoid it as much as you can.
- Stay away from ready-to-eat cereals, low-fat soups and canned vegetables or look for the one with low or no salt content.
- Avoid foods that are high in trans fat, cholesterol and saturated fat.
Methods to cut back on sodium
Low sodium foods are the basis of Dash diet. So it becomes necessary to reduce the consumption of sodium. One method is to lower the amount of sodium in your meals. Other methods include:
- Replacing sodium-free spices with salt
- No additional use of salt while cooking rice, hot cereal or pasta
- Rinsing canned foods to remove some of the sodium
- Boycotting processed foods having high sodium content
It is not easy to change the bad eating habits which we have acquired over the years. One cannot change one’s habits in a day. Even our body needs time to get accustomed to the changes. Try to gradually increase the intake of veggies and fruits in your diet. If you are having fruits and vegetables once or twice a day then try to increase it to three to four times a day by including it in your lunch and dinner.
Similarly, gradually increase the intake of grains and other foods. Sudden increase of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in the diet can result in bloating or diarrhea that may occur if you are not accustomed to eating a diet with lots of fiber. The amount of food intake will also depend on whether the person dieting is a man or woman, their age, and how physically active they are.
Keep one thing mind that healthy eating habits are inculcated over time. One cannot achieve a healthy body in a day. It is a work in progress. What matters is that you include healthy foods in your diet and follow the diet religiously.