How to Help Your Clients Follow the DASH Diet

In a review of 32 of the most popular diets of 2013, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet came out on top.

Is this a surprise? Not really. After all, this is the fourth year in a row that the expert panel at U.S. News and World Report has ranked the DASH diet as the best overall diet. On its heels are the Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) diet, the Mayo Clinic Diet, the Mediterranean Diet, and Weight Watchers. The DASH diet’s focus on limiting sodium rather than cutting out a wide range of foods, along with its positive impact on health, have combined to earn it the number one spot in the rankings.

What positive impact on health?

Well, according to the National Heart Lung, and Blood Institute,”Following the DASH eating plan and eating less sodium (salt) can lower high blood pressure or your risk for the condition. Results from the DASH research showed that following a DASH plan containing 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day lowered blood pressure. Following a DASH plan containing 1,500 mg of sodium lowered blood pressure even more (systolic blood pressure was lowered by about 7 to 12 mmHg).” The U.S. News and World Report’s panel further asserts that the DASH diet has “also been shown to increase ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and decrease ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, a fatty substance that in excess has been linked to heart disease.”

In other words, the DASH diet is good for your heart, especially when it comes to your blood pressure.

So, how can you go about helping your clients adopt the DASH diet?

There are a few ways you could go. One is with DASH posters like the Make the DASH poster or an About Your Blood Pressure poster. You could also offer handouts to clarify the key points of the DASH diet — both the Make the DASH brochure and the Blood Pressure 101 handout have been both popular and effective. For more intensive work, there are presentations like 4 Lessons to Lower Blood Pressure and DASH Diet Basics. Of course there are always resource bundles that combine everything you need in a single package. Top-selling DASH bundles include the Blood Pressure 101 Educational Materials Bundle and the 6 Lessons of Heart Health.

For More Information:

Now is a great time to show Paleo Versus DASH:

Paleo Versus DASH Diet

 

Healthful Resolution Ideas

Some healthy resolutions

Have you broken your resolution before you really made it?  If you’re serious about starting the year off on the right foot I have an idea.

How about 12 attainable resolutions?  I always wonder why resolutions have to be large goals (like lose 100 pounds) or doing something major “cold turkey” (like stopping smoking).  I’m thinking resolutions should be something you could add to your life and small things that you really could do.

How about “add-on” resolutions?  Something like the 12 days of Christmas—Only I’m making it the 12 months of health (someone sing).  The idea is to change one small thing each month and then keep that accomplishment and add another the next month.

The idea is you start with one in January—say it’s getting more activity—it could be walking one night after dinner with your spouse or joining a one-day-a week-yoga class.  It doesn’t have to be 5 days a week to get you started.

February—add another goal but still keep up what you started in January. In February (since it is heart month) learn a little more about the sodium in the foods you eat. Read labels and work to reduce the amount of sodium you take in. Try to eat the recommended 2300 mg (or less of sodium) every day—and still do the January goal too.

March—add something else.  But the January and February changes should almost be a habit by then so keep it up.

Write it down.   Write your goal for each month in your new calendar right now.  Is it really a serious resolution if you haven’t spelled it out?  Reevaluate at the beginning of each month on how it’s going.

Here are 12 ideas you could incorporate into your life….if you already do some of these add your own or make them more specific for you.

  1. Add some activity to your life.  The ultimate goal would be at least 30 minutes every day of the week. But start smaller. Find something you like to do and keep it up.
  2. Pack a healthy lunch—if you eat out most days for lunch –switch to just 3 days a week and pack a lunch the other two. You’ll save money but could also have a more nutritious lunch.
  3. Eat dinner with the family—without the distraction of television or phone at least 1-2 nights a week. Research shows that families that eat together eat less fat, more fruits and vegetables and more dairy.  It’s also a great way to build strong family relationships.
  4. Eat breakfast –If you’re not a breakfast eater start with just a few days a week. Breakfast eaters are more alert, creative, perform better and are less likely to be overweight.
  5. Eat more fruit-make your goal to eat 1 piece or “extra piece” each day. You might even make it a challenge to find new fruit to try out.
  6. Eat more vegetables— Work to get a vegetable or one more vegetable into your diet each day—or if you can’t eat more each day try for at least a couple a week. Look for new mixtures in the freezer section of your grocery store.
  7. Watch less television—this is here because research has shown that people who watch less television weigh less.  Adults who watch more than 2 hours of television a day tend to weigh more than those who watch less.
  8. Eat less fast food –studies have found that those who eat at fast food restaurants more than two times a week were 10 pounds heavier than those who ate there less than once a week.
  9. Cut every restaurant meal in half…enjoy it twice. There are always opportunities to eat out. Instead of totally avoiding your favorites or time with friends and family ask for a take-out container when you get your meal and take it home for another meal.
  10. Eat more whole grains—Recommendations are to eat at least six servings of grain every day.  Half of them should be a whole-grain.
  11. Go meatless—how about a meatless Monday?  This could save you calories, money, saturated fat, increase fruits and vegetables, not to mention more variety.
  12.  Fill everyone’s plate at the stove instead of family-style on the table. This will help control portion sizes and overeating…just because it’s there (also less dishes to wash).

These are my ideas.  You know your diet and your health. What little changes can you make each month that may make a big difference at the end of the year?

I admit…you probably can’t do them all or all the time.  Be realistic.  But maybe try some.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

Try these popular education topics:

Nutrition Posters

Employee Health Programs

Nutrition Education Handouts