As with all significant changes in your life, it can be hard to keep everything together. There will be a day when you crave something salty or feel like the DASH diet needs more effort. When this happens, knowing you are not alone is good.
Many people have issues with starting the DASH diet and adjusting their lives to it. The good news? There are a lot of tips and tricks that you can use to help you keep everything together.
Everyone has done it. It is starting a new diet and going all in from day one. This will work for some people but is generally too big a change for most people.
The best route? Start slowly and gradually make a change to your diet until you are in line with the DASH diet. This is much easier than jumping in the deep end and completely changing everything about how you eat. To start a gradual change, you can increase the vegetable and fruit servings you have each day. You can add some to your lunch if you only have vegetables as a side with dinner. Next time you buy some bread, choose whole grain instead of white. Slowly changing your foods will make everything more accessible, and you will feel free to toss all the food in your home on day one.
Have A Shopping List
The biggest mistake you can make when on the DASH diet, or any diet, is grocery shopping without a list. When you do not have a list, you tend to wander the aisles, which is very bad. You will see things you want that you should not be buying, like that packet of crackers that is now on sale and will be so good to have late at night.
To create your grocery list, you must plan your meals. If you are still trying to figure out what to do, there are a lot of DASH-compliant recipes out there. You can choose a few you want for the week and list all your desired ingredients. When you hit the stores, you must stick to your list and not wander the aisles.
Eat Before Shopping
Have you ever gone to the grocery store while you are hungry? Do you remember what you came out with? It was a lot more than what you initially went in for. When you shop hungry, everything is going to look appealing to you. This includes foods you would never want to get at any other time. Those convenient and processed foods that you need to avoid? They will be the ones that you feel you have to get.
They are convenient and easy to eat when you leave the store. This will be your thought process at the time and will result in you consuming them in your car, even if you think about how you are breaking your diet.
Read the Labels
All food has to have a nutrition facts label on it by law. This will help you weed out foods with high and sneaky hidden sodium. The problem is that getting used to reading the labels does take some time. When you first start the DASH diet, you will buy food without looking at the title. However, this will become easier over time.
Reading labels will also help you to compare the different options that you have. Most of the time, you will have more than one option for a product, and you can find the one with the least sodium. The labels will also tell you about the calories so that you can keep tabs on this.
Whenever you can, you need to buy fresh. Fresh vegetables and fruit will be easier because they are available in the grocery store. The problem could come with meat and fish.
If your grocery store has a butchery, you must get your meat from them. You must visit your town or city if you have another independent slaughter. Fresh beef will not have the additional sodium you get with preserved meats.
Fresh fish can often be much harder to find, mainly if you live inland. You must buy from the grocery store if you are still looking for a fishmonger. If you have a fishmonger, you need to pay attention to the eyes of the fish. Fish with clouded eyes are older and less fresh.
Stock Up on DASH Foods
The next time you go shopping, you should get some DASH-friendly foods to keep in your home. This is ideal for people who need more time to plan everything or time to go grocery shopping each week. You are likelier to make DASH-friendly meals when you have DASH-friendly foods in your home.
You can still eliminate all the DASH-unfriendly foods you currently have. Do you remember the first tip we covered? Gradual change is a good idea; you will save food by tossing what you already have. When you finish the foods in your home, you can replace them with a DASH-friendly alternative.
Have the Right Cookware
Many people need to realize that your cooking will impact your overall diet. Think about the last time you sautéed some vegetables or meat. Did you have to use oil and butter to ensure it did not stick to the pan?
Getting non-stick cookware will reduce your need for more oil or butter. This will ensure that you stay on target with your serving recommendations. While looking at non-stick cookware, consider getting a vegetable steamer. Boiling your vegetables will reduce their nutritional benefit. Steaming them is much better; you can get one that fits over your pan to make it easier.
Another cookware you should be looking at is a spice mill or garlic press. This will make it easier to season your food without salt. A garlic press will mince the garlic, which releases more flavor, while a spice mill will make the spices easier to mix with your food.
Take Care with All Courses at A Restaurant
While you can eat out with the DASH diet, you do have to be careful. Most people make the mistake of focusing on their main course while they are at a restaurant. You also need to think about your other systems and peripherals. Your entrée can sabotage your diet, but what you drink or have for dessert can damage everything you work for.
When you eat out, you should choose to drink water, fruit juice, tea, or coffee. It is generally recommended that you avoid alcohol because it is easier to overdo it when you are out with friends. Having your one serving of alcohol while everyone else has more can be a challenge.
Look for appetizers that have more vegetables and fruit in them. You can also look for fish appetizers, as they will keep you on track. Salads are also a good option, but only if you can get the dressing on the side and know what the sauce is made of.
You must ask for whole-grain bread if you want to have some bread. You should also stick to just one piece and do not butter it. You need to find out if the butter is salted or not.
Control the Portion Sizes
A lot of people will have more significant portions than they need. This is particularly true if you are eating at a restaurant. You should ask them for a lunch portion if you are going out for dinner. Lunch portions are usually smaller than dinner ones. You can also consider splitting a meal with a friend if you cannot reduce the overall size.