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DASH Diet Meal Plans: How They Work

Written on February 2, 2012 at 9:01 am , by

dash diet book

Photo courtesy of dashdiet.org

By Kati Mora, RD for DietsInReview.com

When you think of weight loss, the DASH diet might not be the first plan that comes to mind. Afterall, it was designed to help individuals lower their blood pressure and not necessarily their calorie intake, right? Well, yes and no. Although the DASH, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, diet has been proven to reduce blood pressure, it can also help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

This diet was recently named the best overall diet for health by US News and World Report. That’s because it’s balanced, relatively simple to follow, backed by scientific research, and generally safe to put into practice. From fruits and vegetables to lean meats and low-fat dairy, this meal plan correlates well with the USDA MyPlate recommendations. Many of these foods are lower in calorie and rich in important nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein, and fiber.  A few more things to know about DASH diet meal plans:

-An individual should consume no more than 2300 milligrams of sodium a day. With the more stringent or low sodium plan, no more than 1500 milligrams should be consumed on a daily basis.

-Followers must go easy on fats, oils, sweets, and added sugars. Depending on how many calories you need to function each day and how
physically active you are, the amount of these and other components of your diet vary.

-Instead of utilizing special foods or counting calories, the emphasis here is more on servings and portion sizes. In general, those following the DASH diet should aim for 4-5 servings of both fruits and vegetables a day, 6-12 servings of whole grains, 2-3 servings of low-fat or no-fat dairy, less than 6 servings of lean meats, poultry and fish, 2-3 servings of fats and oils, 4-5 servings of legumes, nuts, and seeds, and no more than 5 servings of sweets per week. Alcoholic beverages should also be limited to no more than two drinks for men and one drink for women each day.

Not sure what a serving looks like? ChooseMyPlate.gov has a few excellent resources to help you identify what a serving size is for each food group. It varies depending on what type
of food you are eating and it can be tricky to keep all your serving sizes straight, but in general:

A serving of fruit = 1 cup
A serving of vegetables = 1 cup
A serving of whole grain= 1 ounce
A serving of protein = 1 ounce
A serving of dairy = 1 cup

The DASH diet might be for you if you’re looking to improve the nutritional quality of the way you eat. It is often associated with improved blood pressure maintenance; however, weight loss can also result from the dietary modifications taking place!

More from Diets in Review:

DASH Diet’s Marla Heller Suggests it May Not be Sexy, but it Makes Sense

Most Popular Diets of 2011


Have Your (Carrot) Cake and Eat It Too!

Written on April 29, 2011 at 2:56 pm , by

Tina's new book hits bookstores on May 3. (Image from Amazon.com)

Tina's new book hits bookstores on May 3. (Image from Amazon.com)

As big fans of health and fitness blogs, we were excited when Tina Haupert’s new book hit our desks. Who is Tina, you ask? She’s the brains behind Carrots ‘N’ Cake, a popular blog that she started in early 2008 to stay on track while shaping up for her wedding. Today, she chronicles her daily life and offers helpful hints for readers who want to live a healthy lifestyle without deprivation.

Her tips, recipes and entertaining stories are included in Carrots ‘N’ Cake: Healthy Living One Carrot and Cupcake at a Time, which will be released on Tuesday. We asked Tina to share a few of her favorite things…besides carrot cake, of course!

Favorite Workout(s): “Every week, I combine running, Body Pump and yoga for a well-balanced routine. I also enjoy walking and hiking with my husband and dog.”

Best Piece of Advice for Our Readers: “Pay attention to the nutrients in your food, not the calorie count.”

Top Blogs to Read: “My current favorites are Kath Eats Real Food, Healthy Tipping Point, Skinny Runner and Health on the Run.”

Choice Healthy Snack: “Anything with peanut butter! I love these Peanut Butter Bars as a treat, but my favorite snack has to be a Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie.”

Peanut Butter & Banana Smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup Almond Breeze almond milk
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

We can’t wait to try some of the other amazing sounding recipes in Carrots ‘N’ Cake. Cinnamon-Brown Sugar Pancakes, Easy Eggplant Pizza or Margarita Granita? Sign us up!

More from FITNESS: The FITNESS Guide to Healthy Snacking

#1 Weight-Loss Secret: Be Nice to Yourself

Written on April 26, 2011 at 2:34 pm , by

The Self-Compassion Diet by Jean Fain

The Self-Compassion Diet by Jean Fain

Cutting yourself a little slack is the secret to big weight-loss, according to Jean Fain, a licensed psychotherapist and author of the recent book The Self-Compassion Diet. She explains:

How does self-compassion help with weight-loss?

Most weight-loss plans revolve around deprivation and neglect. You’re supposed to stick to the plan no matter what. If you’re starving, keep eating tiny portions. If you’re exhausted, keep moving—no pain, no gain. Going on vacation? Keep counting…calories, carbs, points. It’s not a very compassionate or effective approach, and it’s no fun.

What I’m saying: when you treat yourself with self-compassion, you’re more apt to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full; rest when you’re tired and move when you feel energized. When you do that, you lose weight naturally.

So what is self-compassion, exactly?

Most simply put, self-compassion is treating yourself like you’d treat a friend or a loved one—with care and concern.

My favorite definition comes from research psychologist Kristin Neff, Ph.D., who defines self-compassion as having three essential ingredients: mindful awareness, loving-kindness and common humanity.

(Learn more and test how self-compassionate you are with Kristin Neff’s quiz.) Read more