"I'm a believer!"
That's the proclamation from Izzy, a 60-year-old clerk from Petaluma, Calif. She's talking about a way of eating that helped her lose weight and brought her blood pressure way down.
"If there were a commercial for the DASH diet, I'd volunteer to be a spokesperson," says Izzy.
The DASH diet is an eating plan that is low in fat but rich in low-fat dairy foods, fruits, and vegetables. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Hypertension is high blood pressure.
"I didn't have any blood pressure problems until after I'd been quite overweight for about 10 years," Izzy says. But when her blood pressure tests regularly showed her at 130 to 140 over 80 to 90, she knew her health was in danger.
"I work in a medical clinic, so I knew exactly what those numbers meant. I was putting my health in danger, and I knew it. I got scared." She adds with a laugh, "Fear is a great motivator for me."
Today, 2 years after deciding it was time to take action, Izzy has lost her extra weight. And her blood pressure is regularly 100 to 105 over 50 to 55.
"Those numbers seem impossibly low to me, even now," she says. "I could never have imagined I could get them down so low by losing weight. I feel sure it was the WAY I lost weight, with DASH."
Izzy happens to love fresh vegetables. So she started using them to fill her plate—and her stomach. "My lunch is usually a heaping plate of raw cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, cucumbers, carrots, and tomatoes," she says. She also makes sure she has 3 servings of dairy every day, usually in the form of low-fat mozzarella cheese sticks and fruit smoothies made with nonfat vanilla yogurt.
She says she makes a big effort to eat from all the other food groups, but vegetables are her go-to food. "They're always my entree, you might say. When I have meat or rice or something like that, it's like a side dish.
"Finding a permanent way to eat healthier seemed like an impossible thing to me," Izzy says. "I didn't see how I could ever give up so many things I love. But here's the thing: I didn't give them up. Yep, I still have my beloved nachos once in a while, but my portions are much smaller—just enough to satisfy my craving, you know?
"A big lesson I learned is that everything we do routinely is a habit. And habits can be changed. I'm living proof."
This story is based on information gathered from many people facing this health issue.
For more information, see the topic High Blood Pressure.
Other Works Consulted
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (2006). Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure With DASH (NIH Publication No. 06-4082). Available online: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/new_dash.pdf.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology|
|Last Revised||April 5, 2013|
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