As part of my series of Heart Health Month articles, I will be experimenting with the DASH Diet in the form of a 30-day DASH Diet challenge.
As you may know from reading my previous blog articles, losing 52 pounds is one of my goals for 2018. As a general rule, I do not promote any particular diet. It's my opinion that there are many good diet plans out there, focusing on eating healthy and nutrition-dense foods that will promote weight loss and good health if followed. The hard part is picking one and sticking to it.
However, the DASH Diet, which originated in research conducted by the NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, consistently gets high marks for improving cardiovascular health, especially in lowering blood pressure. The DASH Diet has been ranked as the best diet for the past eight years by the National Institutes of Health according to US News and World Report. The study's original author, Dr. Stephen Jurasche, an adjunct assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University, has stated that in people with higher blood pressure, the diet is "comparable to anti-hypertensive medication." Since my blood pressure has run high for the past few years, and since I would prefer not to have to go on medication, this sounds like a great benefit to me.
Free guides and recipes are available from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. The diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low fats and whole grains, and decreases sugar, sodium, and high fat foods. No real surprises there. The diet does provide calorie goals for different age/activity groups, and for my goal of 52 pounds in a year at moderate activity, my suggested daily caloric intake is 2,000 calories. The plan also suggests increasing physical activity levels (no surprises there either).
Now, I know some readers will immediately exclaim in horror, "But the carbs!" Yes, I know. I tend toward the lower carb theories myself. However, this is an experiment on myself to see what happens if I follow this diet for 30 days. Up until now, I have not really "followed" any particular diet plan; rather, I have just tried to eat healthy foods while cutting out sugar. But I have not been good at managing my portions or focusing on specific foods for a specific result.
After I have 30 days worth of results from following the DASH diet, I can then decide if it is working for me or not, and how or if I would tweak it for me personally. I already have my baseline of my current state (an important step in the 2018 Success Planner - click the link to download and build your own plan for success in 2018). Now, I need the next piece, which is to follow the part of my action plan that is "eat a healthy diet", and share and record the results (the accountability piece), and then change or continue as the results dictate. And maybe what I learn by experimenting on myself will help you too.
So for the next 30 days, I will be following the DASH Diet and posting up my results, both here and in the Yes I Can Health Facebook group.
I would love to have you follow along, since I will be updating this blog post throughout the month.
And you can learn more about Women and Heart Health in my Love Your Heart series.