DASH your way to better health….#47 of our weekly Healthy Lifestyle Challenges
Welcome to our healthy lifestyle challenge lead by our program dietitian Vicki Bovee and her husband, Bill. Because we can always do better to live a healthier lifestyle Vicki and Bill decided to work on a weekly challenge together to provide support and accountability for each other and hopefully inspire you to make healthy changes. Follow along with them as they tackle a variety of challenges to eat better, eat more mindfully, and improve physical health and emotional well-being. Vicki and Bill invite you to participate and accept the challenges to improve your lifestyle too. Some of them may be difficult and please feel free to modify the challenges to accommodate your dietary needs and physical abilities.
Challenge #47 DASH your way to better health
I could write a book on this challenge. Neither Bill nor I have hypertension (high blood pressure) but about 70 million Americans do. That’s about 1 out of every 3 adults. Of those with hypertension, only about 52% have it under control. In the US there are about 1,000 deaths per day from high blood pressure either as a primary or contributing cause. Click here for CDC hypertension facts.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries, which carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body. Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day. But if it stays high for a long time, it can damage your heart and lead to health problems. High blood pressure raises your risk for heart disease and stroke. Changing your lifestyle may help lower your blood pressure. Recommendations include regular exercise, no smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating a diet with less salt.
The average person’s sodium consumption is about 3,400mg a day. The recommendation is to limit sodium to 2,300mg day (about 1 teaspoon) but that is not a one-size-fits all. If you are over the age of 51, African American, or have hypertension, diabetes, or kidney disease the recommendation is 1,500mg per day. If you have ever tracked your sodium intake you know difficult it is to meet this recommendation.
Where is all this salt coming from? Well, it’s not from your salt shaker. Only 11% of your sodium comes from the salt you add during cooking or sprinkle at the table. 12% is naturally occurring in the food. Take a guess where the remaining 77% is coming from. Yup, you guessed it. It’s in processed foods and restaurant meals. When you pack your sandwich for lunch and you are packing a salt bomb. Bread, deli meats, and cheese are all high in sodium. New York’s Health Department is proposing that restaurant chains add a symbol next to menu items that contain more than 2,300mg sodium. That means that one menu item contains all the sodium for the day. Click here for more information about Sources of Sodium.
Enter the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, or meal plan. The DASH meal plan was developed through controlled, randomized research funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and carried out over five years at five medical research facilities. The DASH diet significantly lowered blood pressure and the Food Guide Pyramid was based on this meal plan. For the past 5 years U.S. News & World Report had rated the DASH diet as the healthiest overall diet. And yes, it can be used for weight loss.
The DASH diet:
• Is low in salt, saturated fat, cholesterol and total fat
• Includes lots of fruits and vegetables
• Includes low fat dairy
• Includes whole grains
• Includes fish, poultry, and nuts
• Limits red meats, sweets, and added sugars
And you guessed it again. It does not include fast food, pizza, junk food, and all the processed foods we eat. I recently read that highly processed foods account for more than 60% of the calories in products Americans routinely buy in grocery stores. Along with those calories comes a truckload of salt.
The Oregon Dairy Council has put together a great website that has meal planner, food trackers, shopping lists and sample daily meal plans for various calorie levels. They have made it easier for you to follow this meal plan. Click here for their resources.
I know from the previous food challenges when we eliminated processed foods, we ate low sodium those weeks. I kept my food record with My Fitness Pal during those challenges and I was able to keep my sodium at 1,500mg a day. Those challenges also included eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and I did a lot of cooking those weeks. For this challenge we did not track our actual intake with the app but used the tracking sheet from the Oregon Dairy Council. I followed the 1600 calorie plan and Bill followed the 2,000 calorie plan.
• As I have gotten older I have developed a salt sensitivity and I retain water when I eat more sodium than usual. The water retention gets worse when the weather is hot. My weight can fluctuate 3 to 4 pounds in a couple of days. I weigh every day and when the scale is up a couple of pounds I can always trace it back the sodium I ate the day before. When this happens I really push the fluid. I aim for 72FO of plain water + 50FO from my shake, coffee, and sparkling water. If you are retaining water you need to drink more water. I also cut out any processed foods and stick to fresh foods.
• Looking at my tracker I can clearly see the difference in my eating between weekends and workdays. I ate whole grains, but not even close to the recommended amount, and some days I didn’t have any. I ate low fat dairy on workdays but not on the weekends. Fruits and veggies were no problem no matter what day it was. I ate more than the recommended amount of protein every day.
• Hmm. Let me see. I ate fruits, veggies, protein, and limited my starchy carbs. Does this sound familiar bariatric patients?
• We had the grandsons for dinner one night. I made them sloppy joes and oven baked fries. There was too much sodium from the bun, the ketchup in the sauce, and fries so Bill and I ate salmon and grilled vegetables. We all ate strawberries.
• Yup, I lost water weight and I felt better.
• This was a pretty easy challenge for me. Vicki found a very simple charting system that made it easy to track my eating.
• There were eight categories. I did great with five every day and was close on one other category. The two I did not do well were veggies and sweets. I did not eat enough veggies.
• The one section I excelled at was having sweets daily…..NOT!! You all know I have to have my nightly bowl of ice cream. The problem is we are only allowed three servings per week.
• When I do this challenge over again I will plan better. I will have more types of fruits and vegetables in the house that I like. Vicki eats pretty much all veggies but I have my favorites and I didn’t buy them. I’ll have to plan my meals to have more whole grains.
These recommendations continue to come under scrutiny. Recently I read another article about sodium intake. The Center for Science in the Public Interest agrees that 3,400mg of sodium a day is too much but questions the research regarding the 1,500mg limit. Bottom line is we do need watch our intake of processed foods for more reasons than just sodium.
This diet, or meal plan, is do-able. It is easy to follow, it doesn’t eliminate whole food groups, and it allows for some sweets. You can still add some salt at the table. Remember that is NOT where most of your sodium comes from. Your taste buds will gradually adapt to less salt as you start to get rid of the processed, salty snacks and eat fewer meals out. I’ve said it for years, “Fresh is best!”
We started our challenges last July and we committed to do a weekly challenge for a year. Well, we have made the far turn and are at the top of the stretch heading for home. Whew! We’ve been off the pace a few weeks but neither one of us broke down or retired and put out to pasture. And from our challenge a couple of weeks ago, practice makes better. So join us as we do our own Triple Crown.
Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD
Want to catch up on what you’ve missed?
The road to success is always under construction. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-weekly-lifestyle-challenge/
Challenge #1 Eat everything sitting down. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-weekly-lifestyle-challenge-week-one/
Challenge #2 Eliminate cheese as an ingredient. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-two/
Challenge #3 Walk sideways in your home. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-three/
Challenge #4 Include a fresh herb in your daily meal plan. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-four/
Challenge #5 If there is food in your mouth there should be nothing in your hand. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-healthy-lifestyle-weekly-challenge-week-five/
Challenge #6 Eat the MyPlate recommendations for fruits and vegetables. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-6/
Challenge #7 Stand (and walk if possible) while talking on the phone. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-7/
Challenge # 8 Don’t eat out of the package. Put your food on a plate or in a bowl. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-8/
Challenge # 9 Keep a food record. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-nine/
Challenge # 10 Power down while eating. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-10/
Challenge # 11 Eating to reduce inflammation. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-11/
Challenge # 12 Eating to help our environment. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-12/
Challenge # 13 Switch it up. https://www.westernbariatricinstitute.com/?p=2576
Challenge # 14 The road to success is still under construction. https://www.westernbariatricinstitute.comp=2583
Challenge # 15 Little bites. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-15/
Challenge # 16 Drink your water. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-16/
Challenge # 17 Count your chews. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-16/
Challenge # 18 The 100 Bite Diet. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-18/
Challenge # 19 Start your day right. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-19/
Challenge # 20 Holiday moves. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/wbi-health-lifestyle-challenge-week-20/
Challenge # 21 Limit TV time. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/limit-tv-time-wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-21/
Challenge # 22 The Paleo Diet: Eat Like a Caveman. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/eat-like-a-caveman-wbi-weekly-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-22/
Challenge # 23 Sweet dreams. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/sweet-dreams-wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-23/
Challenge # 24 What color is your plate? https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/what-color-is-your-plate-wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-24/
Challenge # 25 Six month reflections https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/six-month-reflection-wbi-healthy-lifestyle-challenge-week-25/
Challenge # 26 Retro-walking. https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/retro-walking-challenge-26-of-our-healthy-lifestyle-challenge/
Challenge # 27 Gimme a high fiber https://www.westernbariatricinstitute.com/?p=2861
Challenge # 28 The Half Plate Rule https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/the-half-plate-rule-challenge-28-of-our-weekly-healthy-lifestyle-challenge/
Challenge #29 Feel Good Week https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/feel-good-week-challenge-29-of-our-weekly-healthy-lifestye-challenge/
Challenge #30 Try one new healthy food a day https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/try-one-new-healthy-food-a-day-challenge-30-of-our-weekly-healthy-lifestyle-challenge/
Challenge #31 It’s a stretch https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/its-a-stretch-challenge-31-of-our-weekly-healthy-lifestyle-challenge/
Challenge #32 TLC for heart health https://www.westernbariatricinstitute.com/?p=2933
Challenge #33 The sounds of silence https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/the-sounds-of-silence-challenge-33-of-our-weekly-healthy-lifestyle-challenges/
Challenge #34 10,000 steps a day https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/10000-steps-a-day-challenge-34-of-our-weekly-healthy-lifestyle-challenge/
Challenge #35 35/350 https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/35350-35-of-our-weekly-healthy-lifestyle-challenge/
Challenge #36 Have a super week https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/have-a-super-week-36-of-our-weekly-healthy-lifestyle-challenge/
Challenge #37 Stress busters https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/stress-busters-37-of-our-weekly-healthy-lifestyle-challenge/
Challenge #38 Walking the tightrope https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/walking-the-tightrope-38-of-our-weekly-healthy-lifestyle-challenge/
Challenge #39 The 7PM cut off https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/the-7pm-cut-off-39-of-our-weekly-healthy-lifestyle-challenge/
Challenge #40 Primary eating https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/primary-eating-40-of-our-weekly-healthy-lifestyle-challenge/
Challenge #41 We’re gluten free https://www.westernsurgical.com/bariatric-surgery/tiptoe-through-the-tulips-with-miss-vicki-46-of-our-weekly-healthy-lifestyle-challenge/
Challenge #42 Do what you gotta do https://www.westernbariatricinstitute.com/?p=3133
Challenge #43 Fighting sitting disease https://www.westernbariatricinstitute.com/?p=3146
Challenge #44 Slowing down mealtime https://www.westernbariatricinstitute.com/?p=3160
Challenge #45 Practice makes better https://www.westernbariatricinstitute.com/?p=3170
Challenge #46 Tiptoe through the tulips with Miss Vicki https://www.westernbariatricinstitute.com/?p=3180
Vicki Bovee is the Registered Dietitian for Western Bariatric Institute and leads the non-surgical weight loss program, “Health and Lifestyle Program.” Contact Vicki