The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution

December 20, 2012

The DASH Diet Weight Loss SolutionYes, there is a new DASH diet book. And its premise is to show you how to reframe your eating habits, and learn how to eat in a way that is more satisfying and helps you curb your cravings. This book is based on long-overlooked DASH research that shows improved results with lower levels of refined, starchy foods. And it also incorporates newer research for weight loss that shows how to maintain muscle, keep blood sugar on a more even keel, and improve health.

All this works without counting calories and without being overly rigid on measuring portion sizes. The new plan actually becomes more intuitive. You fill your plate with lots of low-calorie veggies. You include plenty of protein to quench hunger, longer. You get your sweets from fresh fruit. You have 3 meals and 2 – 3 snacks everyday. You don’t go hungry. And yes, those cravings disappear.

How do we know this? This plan was developed with my patients in my private practice, and perfected with my patients at a US Naval Hospital. Active duty military people need to meet weight standards and they need to be physically fit. This plan helped them meet their goals. And just this fall, we invited people to join a group to be early adopters of the plan from the new book. And they loved it! They saw so many benefits for health, weight loss, and long-term healthier eating.

Now this plan is available to everyone. And you can join our online support group on Facebook and join our Twitter chat at #dashweightloss on December 30 at 2:00 pm EST. See you there!

DASH as the Anti-Diet

February 4, 2014

The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution

Too many of us think of diets as something involving slavish devotion to reading labels, calculating calories and fat grams, and mustering up self-discipline to lose weight. What if you didn’t have to do this? What if you could jettison your calculator, put your reading glasses away, and learn to eat in a healthy way that naturally cured cravings, kept your hunger under control, and made it easier to maintain your new healthier weight.

That is the promise of The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution.

  1. No calorie counting. Nope, none! You eat a variety of foods that happen to be lower in calories, are filling, and help to quench your hunger, naturally.
  2. Eliminate (most) label reading. Unprocessed and minimally processed foods tend to be rich in what’s good for you, and not have additives that you want to avoid.

How could you possibly lose weight with this kind of plan? Having bulky, filling fruits and veggies helps you get lots of volume without lots of calories. Including protein and/or heart healthy fats at every meal and snack satisfies your hunger and keeps you feeling full longer. Avoiding most refined starchy and added-sugar foods helps you get off the blood sugar roller coaster, minimizing cravings. And by ensuring that you get enough protein, you are able to maintain more muscle (and thus, higher metabolism) than you would on the old-fashioned type of diet plan. And you will see how it wan’t a lack of willpower that made previous plans unworkable, it was the design of the old plans that didn’t work.

This is a very intuitive plan, that allows you to trust your own sense of hunger and fullness. Yes, we give you suggested meal plans. But you can make your own choices and substitutions. You can follow them exactly, choose a few that seem to work for you, or just use them as a jumping off point. We also give you an ultra-simplified version, so that you can easily visualize how to eat in any type of venue, when new situations arise.

So the DASH diet is remade into the anti-diet. It becomes your new lifestyle plan, to follow for the rest of your life.

8 DASH Diet Resolutions Make It Easy

January 1, 2014

The DASH Diet BountyWay back when the DASH diet was considered to be only for the research setting, I decided to make it easier to follow. DASH was too important to health; it couldn’t just sit on the shelf. So I created an actionable plan that almost anyone could put into action in their real life.

Ready for your 8 simple resolutions to get you on the DASH diet path?

1. Have 3 meals and 2 – 3 snacks everyday. Deprivation doesn’t lead to lasting weight loss.

2. Make colorful veggies the center of your meal. They are bulky, filling, and healthy, while low in calories.

3. Add lean protein-rich foods to make a meal that satisfies and won’t leave you hungry an hour later.

4.Choose 2 – 3 dairy foods that are low-fat or nonfat, every day. Dairy boosts protein and helps quench hunger.

5. Add fresh fruits to satisfy your sweet tooth the healthy way.

6. Nuts, beans, and seeds make fun snacks that love your heart and help you lose weight.

7. When you have grains, make them whole grains.

8. Watch your waistline shrink. You are improving your health as you lose weight, with these healthy resolutions.

The DASH Diet Weight Loss SolutionThe DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution is based on these rules. And while it helps you lose weight, DASH makes you healthier. DASH is proven to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, lower your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers.

DASH for it!

DASHing Through Thanksgiving

November 21, 2013

ImageWe tend to think of the holidays as a time when healthy diets go out the window. However, it can be very easy to stay on track with the DASH diet on Thanksgiving.

Remember the DASH diet principles: lots of vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish, poultry, low fat and nonfat dairy, bean and nuts, and whole grains, and limited saturated fats and sweets. Use the following tips to make your Thanksgiving very DASH-friendly.

    • Appetizers
      • Raw veggies on a platter with a hummus dip.
      • Sliced yellow, orange, and red bell peppers, with a dip made from nonfat sour cream and salsa.
      • Unsalted nuts.
      • Apple and pear slices with grapes.
    • Thanksgiving dinner
      • Turkey breast (with the skin removed) is very low in saturated fat. If you cook the stuffing separately from the bird, you are more likely to have a moist turkey breast. (Stuffing the bird means you need longer cooking times, which may result in dry breast meat.)
      • Make a low fat gravy by using a skimmer cup to separate out most of the fat from the turkey drippings. Make your gravy high flavor by first sauteing some onions or shallots with some garlic. Then add some red wine, and boil to burn off the alcohol, while leaving great flavor. Add skimmed meat drippings. Use instant flour (Wondra) to thicken hot gravy.
      • Use low sodium, nonfat chicken broth for more flavor in gravy and for moistening stuffing which is cooked in a casserole.
      • Mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes are great sources of potassium, a key nutrient in the DASH diet. Use skim milk and light margarine for mashing, and watch out for the serving size.
      • Fill your plate with extra helpings of vegetables, to avoid overdoing calories.
      • Cranberry sauce is a great source of antioxidants, which are great for your heart.
      • Choose whole grain rolls, or skip them, to focus on other favorites.
    • Alcohol
      • Limit alcohol to moderate amounts to keep calories under control, and help you manage your blood pressure. Women should limit to 1 glass and men to 2 glasses per day. If you have already had your drink, fill your wine glass with water, so you have something to drink without overdoing alcohol. Or have a glass of skim milk to add another key DASH diet food.
  • If you are eating at someone else’s house, bring a vegetable dish or vegetable appetizers, so that you can be sure to have a healthy dinner.
  • Exercise on Thanksgiving Day. Go for a walk, shoot some hoops, or play touch football. If it snows (which it may do in the North), go out and romp in the snow. Create a new tradition with some family active time on the holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

by Marla Heller, MS, RD

The trouble with swaps

June 18, 2013

Lots of diet plans promote swaps. Substitute this for that and save so many calories.

Everyone knows the drill. Make salads with yogurt instead of mayo. Replace sugars in baked goods with artificial sweeteners. Use low fat dressings. Have wraps instead of big sandwiches. Indulge your urge for crunch with popcorn instead of chips.

So what is wrong with that?

It doesn’t have you eating healthier or in a way that naturally satisfies hunger.

And, so sadly, swaps often leave you feeling that you have saved calories, so why not do a little splurge on, say, a Frappuccino in the afternoon.  And the weight doesn’t go anywhere.

If you know about all of these swaps and still are struggling with how to lose weight and keep it off, you need to lose these dieting “tricks” and get real. If you want different results, you need to do something different.

And that is the premise of The Dash Diet Weight Loss Solution. It teaches you how to eat again. Without gimmicks. No rice cakes. No sugar-free cookies. No air-popped popcorn. Not even counting calories or obsessing about nutrition labels.

Mostly freBlack bean burgersh and natural foods, with a few minimally processed additions for fun, make it so easy to follow a healthy plan. Resetting your appetite gives you a plan you can follow for a lifetime. No more yo-yo dieting. Just healthy eating. With a positive focus.

Add more protein-rich foods to satisfy hunger. Fill up with lots of veggies and fruit. Add low-fat and nonfat dairy for protein and probiotics.  Yes, you can have nuts, which provide protein, fiber, and heart healthy fats. Include fish that are rich in protein and healthy fats. Choose olive oil and other beneficial fats that also quench hunger.

Have 3 abundant meals and 2 – 3 snacks every day to keep hunger at bay, and make it so easy to lose weight, naturally.

Photo © Marla Heller, MS, RD, from The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook

Cereal rights. How big is your bowl?

April 6, 2013

But it’s healthy.

That’s what I always hear when I recommend to a client that they eat less cereal. Many of us overdo cereal. Either our portions are quite large or we are having it too often, to the exclusion of other healthy foods.

Cereal bowls have gotten larger, which trick us into having larger serving sizes. A serving of cereal is 1 ounce by weight, uncooked. It is about a large handful of flaked cereal. Check out my cereal bowl (below) and how 1 ounce appears to be quite small. But when I add raspberries and milk it looks more abundant.

Watch out for dense cereals like Grape Nuts. I have had many clients who discovered that their normal serving size of 1 1/2 cups was actually 6 servings, the equivalent of having 6 slices of bread. And 1/3 cup cooked oatmeal is a serving; most packets are 2 servings. Restaurant servings may be 6 to 8 servings. It is so easy to overdo. And, most of us are just not active enough to burn off all those extra calories.

How many times have you had cereal for a quick, late dinner? Now, that isn’t a terrible thing to do once in a while. However, if it’s your habit, you might be missing out on vegetables and protein-rich foods that you would normally have at a dinner meal. Don’t let cereal crowd out the variety of foods that you need in your diet.

To keep cereal being a healthy part of your DASH diet, watch the size and eat a variety of foods each day.



Spinach Versus Kale! Which One Rules?

April 1, 2013

KaleKale salad is one of the vegetable trends that is so good for our health. Many vegans like it as a great source of calcium.

Since kale is relatively new in our repertoires, many of us don’t know why it is fast becoming so popular. Nutritionally speaking, kale is a powerhouse. One cup (about 2 1/4 ounces or 67 g) has 34 calories, and 300 mg potassium, with only 29 mg sodium, and is very rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C. It has 90 mg of calcium which is very highly absorbed, even much better than from dairy.

Spinach is also full of nutrients. Two-and-a-quarter cups (the same 2 1/4 ouncesThe Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook or 67 g) has 15 calories, 53 mg sodium, 377 mg potassium, but less beta-carotene and much less vitamin C. It has more iron and less calcium than kale. However, the iron and calcium is very poorly absorbed from spinach. Spinach is very high in oxalic acid which binds calcium and iron so tightly that very little is absorbed during digestion. Not only does it reduce the absorption of calcium from the spinach, but it will also bind calcium from other foods that are consumed at the same time.

Bottom line? Choose kale for salads, to add to lasagna or pizza, or to incorporate in omelets. That will give you the biggest payoff for vegetable sources of calcium. Recipes for the kale salad, shown right, and more delicious foods based on kale are in the soon-to-be-published book, The Everyday DASH Diet Cookbook, by Marla Heller, MS, RD, with Rick Rodgers.

New Year’s Resolutions for Healthy Eating

December 27, 2012

The key requirements for resolutions, whether for the New Year or any other time of year, is to make them specific, actionable, and achievable. Even better, also include a statement about why each of these steps will help you reach the goal.

In addition to the objective, the resolution should include the action steps that someone will take to reach that goal. Don’t forget that the resolution should focus on things that improve quality of life, since that will make the goal more sustainable. A goal to lose 100 pounds by March would not be achievable and would certainly not improve someone’s quality of life, even if it were something that could be done.

For a better example, if you want to lose 20 pounds by March, set your resolution to be something like,

“I will lose 20 pounds by March, by doing these actions. . .”

Have 3 meals and 2 – 3 snacks every day; because deprivation doesn’t lead to weight loss.

Make colorful veggies the center of my meals. They are bulky, filling, and so healthy, while

low in calories.

Add lean protein-rich foods, to make meals that satisfy, and won’t leave me hungry an hour later.

Include 2 – 3 dairy foods (low-fat or nonfat) to boost protein intake, help quench hunger, and lower blood pressure.

When I have grains, I will make them whole grains.

Add fresh fruits to satisfy my sweet tooth, the healthy way.

Include nuts and seeds, since they make fun, heart-healthy snacks.

Follow these guidelines from the plan in The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution, to boost weight loss and lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

Blackened Chicken and Berry Salad

Blackened Chicken and Berry Salad

Lighten Up Your Holiday Desert for the DASH Diet

December 19, 2012

I love pumpkin pie. But after eating lighter all year, I don’t want to overdo things at Christmas dinner. So I bring this light pumpkin pie, and no one except me is the wiser.

Low Fat Pumpkin Pie

4 egg whites, slightly beaten

16 ounce can pumpkin (or the meat from 1-lb pumpkin)

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp molasses

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

12 oz can evaporated skim (fat free) milk

9″ unbaked pie shell

Preheat oven to 425 F. Combine ingredients in above order. Mix well. Pour into pie shell (or into an au gratin dish for a fat-free dessert). Bake for 15 minutes at 425F. Then reduce temperature to 350F, and bake for 45 more minutes. Makes 8 servings.

Each piece of pumpkin pie has 240 Cal, 7 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, and 7 mg cholesterol.

Without the crust, each piece would have 130 Cal, 0 fat, 0 saturated fat, and 2 mg cholesterol. For a low sugar version, use Splenda™ instead of brown sugar, and increase molasses to 3 tablespoons.

Skip the Holiday Weight Gain and Enjoy the Party!

December 12, 2012


Surviving the holiday parties

This year you will get through the holiday season, without the holiday weight gain and without deprivation! Use America’s healthiest diet, the DASH plan, to keep yourself on track

It can seem challenging to stay on track with healthy eating during the holiday period. No one wants to miss out on all their favorite holiday treats. So we won’t ask you to.

How can we find a way to accommodate both of our very important, but conflicting objectives?

Compromise! You are going to learn how to load up on healthy foods during the day so that you can skim through your holiday party without sinking into holiday gluttony.

The key DASH foods are fresh fruits and veggies, light dairy foods, nuts. These are paired up with lean meats, fish, poultry, and other protein-rich foods, whole grains, and heart healthy fats. And you are not going to use your old trick of starving yourself all day! Instead we will feed you all day.


Yes, you do want a breakfast. Make it protein-rich. A couple of hard-boiled eggs, or a microwave scramble will keep you feeling full longer into the day and fire up your metabolism. Pair it with some berries, and a latte or hot chocolate, and you will start your day with huge energy. This could be especially helpful if you were at a party the night before.


Healthy snacks can keep your hunger under control, and help you avoid the trap of pigging out on office holiday cookies and candy. You do want to stock up your office fridge with light yogurt, fruit, cut up raw veggies, light individually packaged cheeses, and peanut butter. Keep it in your own insulated bag in the fridge, if you have coworkers who are likely to pilfer your healthy foods. Then, at your desk, keep some nuts in storage. Pull together a quick snack by combining something bulky, like the veggies or fresh fruit, with something protein-rich like the yogurt, cheese, nuts, or PB. This surprising trick is so easy, and makes it simple to have healthy, DASH-friendly snacks. The combination of bulky and satisfying protein-foods quenches hunger better than either of them alone.


During the holiday season, focus on veggie-laden salads. If you don’t have access to a store or restaurant with a salad bar, bring your own. The more types of veggies, the healthier. Add grated carrots, red cabbage, cukes, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, peas. Then add in some protein-rich foods like tuna, grilled chicken strips, egg slices, garbanzo beans, and light cheese.  Top with an oil and vinegar or vinaigrette dressing. (Although if you are bringing it from home, don’t dress it until you are ready to eat. No one likes soggy salads.) Use fruit or light yogurt for something sweet at the end of the meal.

More Snacks

Using our earlier suggestions, have an afternoon snack and one before you go out to your party. If you are at home before going out, try some fresh veggies dipped in guacamole. That will take the edge off your hunger, and help with slowing alcohol absorption later at your event.

The Party

Now that you have quenched your hunger and know that you have eaten all your key DASH foods, you can enjoy the party. Cocktails? Try to avoid the sugary or creamy ones. And alternate with water. One glass of wine, one glass of water. Appetizers? Scope out the selection and go for the ones that you really love. Because you are not starving, you can easily avoid overdoing. Then choose the very best dessert. Savor it and linger while eating it.

By not depriving yourself, and by loading up on lots of filling and satisfying foods earlier in the day, you will have found the holiday party solution with the DASH diet! And, come January, you can get a jump-start on a healthier you, with the new book, The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution.



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