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The DASH Diet & Your Holiday Blood Pressure

blood pressureDuring the holidays it can be hard for anyone to eat healthy, but especially challenging if you are following a low sodium DASH diet.

By adopting a DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), you may be able to help treat or prevent high blood pressure and may be able to reduce your blood pressure by a few points in a matter of weeks.

What is the DASH Diet? The cornerstone of the DASH diet is lots of vegetables, fruits, lean meats, low fat and nonfat dairy, whole grains and limited saturated fats and sweets. This isn’t exactly what most people find on the holiday table – but with a few adjustments you can make sure that your holiday meal is DASH diet-friendly.

Here are DASH diet holiday survival tips:

  • Incorporate exercise into your routine. With the holiday rush it can be easy to let exercise go by the wayside. You don’t have to hit the gym, but you should make it a priority to take a simple 15-minute walk once a day throughout the holidays.
  • Read nutrition labels for hidden sodium and fat. A lot of holiday favorites have ingredients that are high in salt and fat. If you’re making any holiday favorites like green bean casserole or stuffing, read nutrition labels to make sure you’re not blowing your sodium levels or fat intake for the day. For example, try swapping out higher sodium canned or boxed goods for lower sodium versions.
  • Emphasize fresh vegetables and fruit. Fruits and veggies are the cornerstone of the DASH diet, so be sure you’re getting enough throughout the holidays. Make a fresh veggie plate to snack on while you’re cooking or to eat before each meal. Be sure that you serve a salad with your holiday meals, or try fruit as a dessert.
  • Forgive yourself if you slip up. Most importantly, if you stray from the DASH diet during the holiday season, forgive yourself and move forward. Don’t blow the whole day because you reached for a sodium-rich dish. Start again and celebrate your successes.