Posts Tagged ‘dash diet’

Game Plan: Smart Snacking for Football Weekends

November 30, 2014

It’s no surprise that so many people get off track with snacking during football season, especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Fewer hours of sunlight, colder weather, and boredom can lead to lots of junk food consumption, just for the fun of it.

Do you ever find yourself wondering what you can eat, five minutes after the last snack?

OK. Let’s fix that! Here are 5 simple tips for the right foods to keep on hand. These are foods that are satisfying, will quench your hunger, and just happen to be nutritious.

The DASH Diet BountyGame plan: Keep these key foods on hand.

  • Fruits: Apples, pears, berries, sliced melons, tangerines
  • Cut up raw veggies: bell peppers, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, radishes, raw green beans, celery, and more.
  • Nuts including nut butters: Cashews, almonds, peanuts (preferably in-the-shell), hazelnuts, etc.
  • Dips: Salsa, guacamole, hummus
  • Cheese (Preferably light): Swiss (very low in sodium), Colby-Jack, Cheddar, Brie, etc.
  • Protein-rich foods: Hard-boiled eggs, slicked turkey, chicken, or beef, chickpeas, etc.

Mix it up. Something bulky, with something satisfying.

Pair up fruits or raw veggies with nuts, cheese, or the other protein-rich foods. Or top your raw veggies with one of the dips. The fruits and veggies are bulky and filling. The foods that have the protein and/or the heart healthy fats (nuts and guacamole) are going to quench your hunger, without putting you on a sugar roller coaster that can trigger cravings.

All of these foods are simple to keep on hand, ready-to-eat. If healthy, good snacks are easily available, you don’t have to have lots of discipline or willpower to stay on track. The new style of dieting doesn’t have you fighting how your body works. What a concept! This actually is easy to do!

This season is fraught with eating and drinking pitfalls. Make it easy on yourself by keeping great snack foods on hand.

And learn more easy-to-follow diet moves in The Dash Diet Weight Loss Solution.




Got milk?

November 13, 2014

Pouring milk

Let’s talk about milk in the DASH diet. Almond milk and coconut milk do not have any dairy properties. Almond milk doesn’t even have a serving of almonds. And it requires lots of water to produce, which is an environmental concern in areas with drought, such as California (where almonds are produced).

For the DASH diet, milk provides the key nutrients calcium (milk proteins help dramatically to boost calcium absorption), potassium, vitamin D, and the excellent milk proteins. DASH research was conducted with real milk, so we don’t really know if soy milk provides the exact same benefits, but at least it is as rich in protein as cow’s milk, and has calcium and vitamin D.

Cow’s milk has been consumed by humans for thousands of years, as a sustainable protein source (along with the other nutrient benefits). It is minimally processed, unlike soy milk. I do, of course, recognize that people have tolerance problems with lactose or, less frequently, milk proteins (which I did have). Yogurt and cheese have very little lactose, and adding lactase (milk-sugar enzyme) can help you with tolerating milk. Some people find that acidophilus milk is easier to tolerate than regular milk. If you can, cow’s milk is a great choice, and if not, soy is a reasonable alternative.

Skim (nonfat) or low-fat milk are your best choices. (And, yes, skimming off the butterfat has also been done for centuries.) The butterfat is highly saturated, which increases your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. You don’t, however, want low-fat yogurt, since that has tons of extra sugar. The light yogurts are fat free and have little or no added-sugar. The clue is in the calories. If your yogurt has 90 calories or less for 6 oz, it is light!

If you have been told that you have a mild allergic response to casein by as shown by IgE, that is most likely a problem only for regular milk. After milk has been modified by heating or fermenting (yogurt, cheese, etc) you will probably not be sensitive to those forms. So hot chocolate may be OK (love that!), along with yogurt and cheese. See if that works for you.

On a side note, I used to get frequent, severe intestinal pains, but I didn’t know what it was, and used to drink more and more milk to calm it down. Eventually I was taken off milk to see if it was causing my headaches. The headaches didn’t stop, but my intestinal pains went away. Aha! After many years, I found yogurt that I liked, and started consuming that frequently, to get more calcium into my diet. Eventually, I decided to try milk again. Surprise! No intestinal pains. My thought has been that the yogurt nurtured the good intestinal bacteria, and thus eliminated any allergic response to milk protein. Yay!

And speaking of good bacteria, research has shown that people can lose weight just by adding one yogurt each day. Now we think that this may be due to those good bacteria, known as part of a healthy intestinal microbiota. Thinner people tend to have more of these good bacteria. And in lab rats, transplanting these good bacteria from thin rats into fat rats, causes the fat ones to lose weight. Good intestinal bacteria may promote reaching and staying at a healthier weight! Learn more about healthy gut bacteria in the upcoming book, The DASH Diet Younger You. An additional way that milk may help with weight loss is by providing lots of whey protein, which is especially powerful for maintaining or building muscle. During older types of weight loss plans, people were encouraged to reduce protein in their diet, which led to excessive muscle loss, and thus, slower metabolism. The whey protein in milk, as part of a diet with sufficient protein from all sources, can help make weight loss more sustainable.

Watch out for Greek yogurt, which is lower in the critical whey protein, even though it is higher over in protein as compared with regular yogurt. And Greek yogurt is also lower in calcium and potassium which are so important for having healthier blood pressure.

Dairy is critical to the DASH diet. In the original DASH diet research, they evaluated whether adding extra fruits and veggies (also key DASH foods) would lower blood pressure. However, without 2 – 3 daily servings of dairy,  there was very little blood pressure benefit! Learn more at

Get going and get milk!

(DASH = Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)

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

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!

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