Following a meal plan, and making a lifestyle change, is hard. It involves day to day thought and preparation, but once your actions become habits, it’s much easier.
The DASH Diet has been ranked the #1 diet for several years in a row by US News and World Report. it will be interesting to see if it ranked #1 again – if not, I’m certain it will remain in the top three. The reason? It’s got good research behind it, and is sustainable (meaning, it’s healthy, balanced, and you can follow this diet for the long-term). Bonus: it can help with weight control, diabetes, and kidney health.
Rather than put yourself “on a diet”, try working on establishing a DASH Diet Lifestyle by starting with these five goals. You can do five little things right?
Here are some simple steps that you can take immediately to start incorporating the DASH Diet principles:
- Add Dairy
- Try topping a slice of whole grain toast with 3 tablespoons of Ricotta cheese instead of butter or margarine.
- Make a simple smoothie using low fat milk, a half a banana, and a few strawberries.
- Enjoy a cup of Greek yogurt for your mid day snack. You can make your own yogurt parfait with low fat plain Greek yogurt, sliced fruit, granola, add a touch of cinnamon or maple syrup.
- Make your oatmeal with milk instead of water for a creamier texture, and a more nutrient-dense, higher protein breakfast
- Eat some nuts
- Nuts are good for you, and they are part of the DASH Diet plan.
- Chop some walnuts into a tossed green salad
- Add peanuts to a stir fry
- Enjoy nuts as a snack – they are high in calories, so just have about 15-20 almonds or a small handful.
- Put an “old fashioned” bowl of nuts in the shell on your holiday table with a nutcracker.
- Add Omega-3s
- Use more oils in your cooking. Not larger amounts, just use oils more often. Canola and soybean oil are both high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Add seeds, like flax seed, to your salads, or choose mixed grains cereals that include a variety of seeds and grains in them.
- Try salmon. Smoked salmon or fresh are both good sources. Try a new recipe.
- Reduce portions
- Your goal is to add fruits, vegetables, fish, and low fat dairy, and to cut back on portions of meat, low fiber starches, processed and other high sodium foods.
- Balance your plate so that half of it is veggies and salad, a fourth is grain, and a fourth is lean meat or other protein. Order the veggie side dish or side salad when dining out.
- Eat smaller portions of high sodium foods. Salt and sodium are factors in high blood pressure management. If you have high blood pressure, lower your sodium intake. Read labels for serving size and amount of sodium.
- Add beans
- Beans are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- For convenience you can use canned – look for low sodium, and always rinse the beans well in cool water before using.
- Use garbanzo beans or cannelloni beans to make a quick dip.
- Add black beans to chili or salsa recipes
- Add beans to sandwich wraps and salads