Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dash Diet, Simple Ideas That Work

My first impression of the DASH diet is very good. Their ideas are simple , much like the Mediterranean Diet , with a focus of gradual lifestyle change.  I purchased a 3 month trial of the diet and then had to talk my wife into trying to follow it with me. She was reluctant to join in the venture because she knows it means more work for her. She has been down this road before with more than a few diet ideas. We both agree that the ADKINS Diet was the most challenging .

My wife likes the structured organized approach

  The one part of the diet that she likes is the structured , 1 week  of meal plans with recipes and a shopping list.   This diet will not be a big change for us because we have followed the basic ideas of a  Mediterranean diet for years but it will require more work for my wife

Things I like about the diet

Less salt but not low salt
 My impression of the DASH Diet from reading the literature  was wrong. I thought it was just  a low salt version of the Mediterranean diet and a useful  tool for blood pressure management.

Immediate response to questions
I reviewed  the excellent web page and the diet and was surprised to find very little to no mention of salt.
I immediately emailed their contact person and received a response within 24 hours. She explaimed the idea of eating more fruits, vegetables and grains but couldn't tell exactly how many grams of sodium the diet contained.  She referred my request to a physician who explained that most of the salt is hidden in the foods and he could not give me an exact number . He estimated that a typical  1600 to 2200 calorie  diet recommendation would have between  2300 mg  to   2875 mg  of sodium/day.
This is close to the goals recommended by the American Heart Association of 2400 mg/day.
These recommendations help us avoid excessive salt intake rather than trying to impose a rigid salt 
 restriction.                           Another good idea

According to the National Health and Nutrition Survey from the  Centers for Disease Control (CDC ) the typical american eats between 2500 mg to over 4000 mg of sodium /day

Daily Serving Goals
I think this is the best part of the diet. 
This is the take home message that I can remember and apply most of the time . I chose an 1800 calorie diet because my initial goal is to weigh 180 pounds.

                                                  My serving goals:

fruit    vegetables    dairy    grains    meat/ fish/poultry     nuts/beans      fats      sweets
  4            4                 3             7                  1.5                         0. 5              2            0.5    

I have tweaked my goals because  I am an almost vegetarian and will most of the time eat no meat and increase my bean and nut serving to 2. They have a nice serving size sheet and a discussion of ideas for vegetarians.

 I think this diet is a big step forward in  simple diet management ideas that we can all use.

Be happy , Be Smart and Defeat Diabetes
David Calder,MD

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Your comments and questions are appreciated. David Calder,MD