Do The DASH Diet

DASH Diet Weight Loss & Maintenance

This is a wonderful article on the health risks of excess salt in your diet.   When I was learning to follow the DASH diet to combat my hypertension,  I read a lot of research that showed that a DASH diet with sodium reduction, was far more effective at reducing blood pressure than without.

One of the hardest things to figure out in the diet was how to season meats without salt, because meat with no seasoning is just gross.  As this article suggests, we began to experiment with creating meat marinades using, olive oil, flavoured vinegars, balsamics, garlic, real maple syrup and no sodium spices.

I have found that balsamic vinegars in particular, can provide a lovely salty like flavour to food, but with zero sodium.  They also come in so many flavours these days, like peach, strawberry fig, chilli and lime, mango, raspberry, etc.  I love to go to farmers markets to find interesting, flavoured and balsamic vinegars.  Today, I far prefer these homemade marinades to store bought sauces for meats.

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Feel so good after running for 1st time in 5 months!! Now this is the good sweat I remember! 

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I am medically clear to return to running again!! It’s been so long and I have not run since March due to a serious back injury. Such a fantastic day!!! I am going to hit the treadmill at the gym after dinner and then soon….road running again!!!

*Dancing with glee!*

This is a picture of my daughter and I, at the Goodlife Fitness fall road race in 2014.

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The DASH diet is a plant based diet, but it is not a vegetarian diet, although you could easily design it as vegetarian. For vegetarian DASH options, substitute lentils, nuts, beans, tofu, etc., in for meat as your protein.  The diet actually encourages these foods and meatless days as well.  An easy way to eyeball plant based, is to look at any meal and determine if half of it is fruit and veggie.  If half your plate is filled with these then you are golden!

I eat 8-10 servings of fruit and veggie everyday.  I find it easier to get my fruit servings in,  so for the veggies, I double up, sometimes even triple or quadruple servings to get the veggies I need each day (e.g instead of half a cup of steamed broccoli and cauliflower with melted cheddar cheese, I eat 2 cups).  This helps keep my fibre intake way up and my appetite under control.  Sure fills me up!

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Dementia and Alzheimer’s, run in my family tree. After the Doctor gave me the DASH diet back in June 2009, I went home and researched it online. This was challenging because I was also doing a difficult final stats class, but I felt hope and momentum, my faith in DASH growing as my blood pressure began to come down a bit, even without the weight loss.  My doctor told me that I would see the greatest results in reduction in blood pressure with weight loss.

I realized it probably was too much to try to lose weight with it until I really figured it out and finished my final exams. I planned to start using the diet for weight loss in Jan 2010.  I actually got started over Christmas though, right after I finished my M.Ed program. I had lots of free cognitive capacity now to research how best to use the diet to lose weight and I threw myself into this fun work!

I felt that in addition to reducing blood pressure and helping me lose weight, it was probably the perfect diet for possible prevention of the family diseases like, diabetes, dementia and Alzheimers.  Certainly my online research, was not showing good correlations between high blood pressure and later onset of these diseases.   The Doctor had warned in my late 30’s, I was on track to develop diabetes, if things did not change.  Today I remain hopeful that DASH has helped me to prevent the development of these diseases, either/or the onset of them will be much later than it could have been.

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This is the first time I have seen this connection made through research.  I have followed the DASH diet since June 2009, which is a low fat diet. It is also is a low sugar and low sodium diet.  Fats that are encouraged in the diet are healthy fats, like olive oil and nuts.   These twists and turns, negatives and positives are a really good reason to always consult your doctor and a registered dietician before starting any diet plan.

I am including a photo of my most recent blood pressure reading, which considering before I found DASH 8 years ago, my average blood pressure reading was 170/90, I think I am doing pretty well.

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I pretty much gave up juice back in June 2009 as part of my switch to the DASH diet to try to lose weight, and reduce my blood pressure.  Back then I was still hypertensive and desperate to make changes that would help me avoid medication and/or weight loss surgery.

Eight years later, we still don’t keep juice in the house, unless we have house guests coming. Now I eat the whole fruit/veggie and water instead and I aim for 8-10 servings a day. Orange juice used to be an everyday drink for me, sometimes 2-3 times a day, but to be honest I have not missed it much at all since I gave it up.  I already didn’t care much for pop anymore, so fortunately, I never had to worry about that piece at all.

In adopting DASH, some changes were harder to make than I thought they would be, like wringing the salt out of my diet while others, like ditching juice, seemed really easy.

 

 

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This article on calories in alcohol makes me think it might be useful to consider a switch to rose. However red wine is said to be better for alzheimer’s prevention, as part of the MIND diet, which is a hybrid of the DASH diet (I have been following DASH since June 2009) and Mediterranean diet.  Alzheimers runs quite terribly in my family, so when I do drink, I have been drinking red wine.

I continue to have to be very wary of weight gain, which could raise my blood pressure again.  Weight maintenance continues to be challenging as I age, because my calorie needs continue to decrease.  I am continually looking for ways to cut calories.  Does a glass of rose provide benefits similar to red wine?  Has there been any research? I mean it’s lighter, but it’s not white… still reddish though.

 

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Today was very satisfying and exciting for me because it was my first time on my road bike in more than two years.  Just over two years ago, I injured my wrist, obtaining a 3rd degree sprain from a bicycling accident.  My grand daughter who has been visiting for a week, left today, and after such a nice visit, it suddenly felt like the right time to try the bike again.  My bike has been sitting there tuned up, bike tires pumped up, ready to go for over a month now, but I couldn’t overcome my nervousness to try it again, until today.   It felt so good and I am pumped to be biking again, considering I have been on a running hiatus, since March due to a lower back injury.  Running is by far my favourite form of exercise and I miss it so.
Hopefully my confidence, stamina and wrist holds out, so biking will continue to be an option for me going forward.   My husband is suggesting I go back to wearing my wrist brace while biking for awhile and I think that’s a good idea.
I have been engaging in much more moderate intensity exercise, like walking/fast walking, than intensive, for about 3 months now, which is a huge change.  Biking will give me a chance to step up my intensity again.  As a result of these changes to my exercise regime (due to injury), I have noted my pulse readings, normally in the 50-60 range, are higher. However, my blood pressure readings continue to remain normal and don’t appear to have changed at all.  I continue to adhere to the DASH diet.  There will be some medical tests in my near future, which I think will also give me some more insight into my exercise plans/needs long term, going forward.
I am including a few pictures from the beautiful summer we are enjoyinghere in Victoria and my last blood pressure reading taken on Wednesday.

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