The overall goal of the DASH Diet – short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – is to lower your consumption of sodium, which aids in lowering your blood pressure. Since the diet focuses on eating the right foods with the right portions, it's also effective for short- and long-term weight loss. Find out more about the DASH Diet and if it's right for you.
Dietician Marla Heller's version of the DASH Diet, from her book The DASH Diet Weight Loss Solution, is divided into two phases:
Phase 1: Two Weeks to Shrink Your Waistline
During the 14 days of phase 1, you will learn how to satisfy your hunger and, as a result, feel fuller longer. To regulate your blood sugar and help curb your cravings, avoid fruit and whole grains, which have a lot of natural sugar, and alcohol, which also contain sugars. That said, you can enjoy 2-3 servings of low-fat dairy per day. This would include 1 cup of skim milk or low-fat yogurt. Avoid regular or even fat-free cheese because they are often high in sodium.
By avoiding starchy foods with sugar, you’re helping to regulate your blood sugar and diminish cravings. Try leafy greens like lettuce and spinach or cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cabbage. You can also eat cucumbers, squash, peppers and tomatoes.
You can also enjoy up to 6 ounces of lean meats, fish and poultry a day. Aim for 4 to 5 servings of beans or lentils a week.
Opt for protein-rich foods that have healthy fats, like fresh nuts and seeds, or fatty fish like salmon or mackerel. Avocados are loaded with monounsaturated fats as well as antioxidants lutein, vitamin E and beta-carotene. Toss them in a salad along with vegetable oils, especially olive, canola and nut oils, which you can use as salad dressing.
Phase 2: Kick It Up a Notch!
After the first 14 days, you will continue to eat the foods from Phase 1 but re-introduce some other healthy foods that will help you continue your weight loss. How long does Phase 2 last? It’s your life plan, so it should last forever so you can keep your blood pressure low and keep weight off.
Whole Grains: Choose from cereals, breads and pasta. Aim for 6 to 8 servings a day.
Fruit: Make fruit (fresh or frozen) a part of your diet every day. Aim for 4 to 5 servings a day.
Low-Fat Milk or Yogurt: Stick to 2 to 3 servings a day as in Phase 1.
Sugar: You can have 3 to 4 servings of sugary foods each week.
Alcohol: You can have a small glass of red wine occasionally, which represents one fruit serving.
The next page has a week’s worth of meals! Phase 1 has 3 sample days, and Phase 2 has 4 sample days.