Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gotta DASH!

I'll work on doing more of a background post about hypertension itself sometime soon, maybe over the upcoming long weekend. But for now, I will share the doctor-recommended approach towards addressing hypertension through diet. It's called the DASH Diet, as in Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

The DASH Diet is a variation of the usual food pyramid we've all gotten used to, and until now I haven't really made much of an effort to adjust to its recommendations. But, as T and I are sharing with you all, this is the first week of the rest of our lives or something like that. So, I'm going to start by making a very strategic trip to the grocery store this weekend. I've also just bought the book that's on the linked web site (call me a sucker, I'll buy the book...) which hopefully has tips on how to stick to the reshuffled DASH plan.

For a 2000-calories-a-day lifestyle (which sure will feel like a diet), DASH recommends you choose:

Grains - 7-8 servings, at least 3 of which are whole grains
Fruits - 4-5 servings
Veggies - 4-5 servings
Dairy, low-fat or non-fat - 2-3 servings
Lean meats, fish, poultry - 2 or less servings
Nuts, seeds, legumes - 4-5 servings per week
Fats and sweets - limited

I probably won't have a problem with the grains part. While I probably have more than 7-8 servings on most days (I LOVE pasta, rice, chips and bagels), I make a point to have whole grain stuff at home and I try to order the same whenever it's an option out. So I'll work on making smarter grain choices and fewer of them. I have to up my dairy intake, make sure I have lean protein once a day on average, keep eating beans but make sure they're in low sodium meals, buy some unsalted nuts to have on hand, and really cut back on fats and sweets.

I *know* the hardest thing will be to incorporate 4-5 servings EACH of fruits and veggies every day. I love fruits and veggies, don't get me wrong. But it requires more planning, more cooking, more trips to the store, and just more commitment overall to make sure that either fresh produce or well-seasoned frozen veggies are a big part of my day.

And, this is a post for another day, but another one of the - ahem - health issues that I inherited from my Dad sometimes has a dramatic reaction to, shall we call it, roughage. But that can be managed too, with planning, so there's really no excuse for not upping my fruit/veggie consumption.

I know, I've gotta just do it. Like Nike says. (But if I ever do win the lottery this is totally why I would hire a nutritionist and personal chef.)


DC Food Blog said...

I hate to say this but those plastic containers of precut fruit makes it super duper easy to get the fruit servings in. SOOOO wasteful but SOOO easy. Stef, you are totally gonna have to hold my hand through this initial phase of changing the eating habits. While it's not difficult to actually stay within my carb allotment (And I never thought I would ever be counting carbs), I hate doing it. After two days of doing it though, I haven't gotten hungry. The snack requirement rocks.

Stef said...

Hey - yeah, I have some of those little fruit cups and just have to remember to EAT them rather than leave them to get dusty in the back of the fridge!

So, in your carb allotment, is that just starches or ALL carbs including fruits and veggies?

Changing eating habits IS hard... especially if you're like me and a lot of your food preferences are based on emotional attachments. Ick.

BUT -- I had a *great* DASH lunch today:

- a banana
- 2 little cartons of skim milk (I needed 2 servings)
- a tuna bento box from Teaism, with a small portion of seared tuna, wasabi, brown rice, steamed broccoli, and sweet potatoes.

I did get a ginger scone as an afternoon snack, but the great thing is that after this lunch with all of its fiber and healthy proteins, I was NOT hungry in the afternoon and I did NOT have the usual 3 pm crash. Woohoo!!!! I really could get used to that. :-)

DC Food Blog said...

All carbs including those coming from fruits and veggies. Green leafy veggies get a free pass and I can eat them with abandon.