One of the leading causes of hypertension is obesity. An overweight or obese person is more likely to develop hypertension, and have it early on than others. Obesity is also a gateway condition for high blood cholesterol and diabetes that can lead to heart diseases. These reasons paved way for the development of DASH diet.
DASH diet centers on eating a lot of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and reducing sodium intake. Increase of consumption of these foods lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. DASH diet plan is ideal not just for those with heart diseases, but also for those who want to lose weight and be healthier.
How to Start DASH diet
To go about DASH diet, you must balance and plan out your meals carefully. When on this diet, it is encouraged to eat—apart from fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy—foods that are low in cholesterol and saturated and total fat. In planning your meals, veer away from sweetened beverages, red meat, sweets, and fatty food. Go for high fiber food like fruits, vegetables, and grains. Eat poultry and fish instead of pork and beef.
Another important tool when starting DASH diet is a food journal. List the foods you eat every day and your calorie intake. In this way you can better monitor your eating habits and identify which you should cut and which you should increase. Your food journal will serve as handout in further developing your DASH diet meal plans.
DASH Diet for Beginners
A simple advice for beginners: don’t rush your way to healthy eating. You are changing your lifestyle, the normal eating and activity pattern you are accustomed to, and that will never be easy. Here are some steps you can take.
Slowly add vegetables to your meal. Start by adding in one meal, then after two weeks or so, try adding to two meals, until you eventually get used to it and have it in all your meals
Cut down sugar in half. Instead of two cakes in a week, make it one. Instead of two spoons of sugar in your coffee, make it one. Half is a safe number and you’ll hardly see the difference. Then as you progress, gradually decrease the half to another half.
Instead of junk food, eat fruits for snack. You can pick whatever fruit you want, just don’t eat too much of it. A piece or a few grams is advisable.
Don’t think of meat as an important part of your meal. Make meat an accessory—just an additional flavor. And as much as possible, eat chicken and fish.
The thing about diet and moving toward a healthier lifestyle is that it takes a lot of self-control. No diet plan and no change come easy. All it takes is discipline.