The Ins and Outs of the Dash Diet and Dieting

Published on March 16, 2020

Nowadays, there are many diets people use and try to get fit and stay healthy. There are diets to help lose weight, manage weight, control eating habits, and more. In addition to those diets, there is also a diet that is for the heart. We all know that staying healthy for your heart can be difficult with fast foods, sweets, and anything high in calories. New research through the National Institutes of Health the Dash Diet is a diet plan for the heart. The Dash Diet is a plan that helps with high blood pressure. 

This diet was named one of the best diets in the United States, but what makes it so different than other diets and has the stigma on diets changed in recent years? I spoke two dietitians Megan Kober (MK) and Deanna Dahlinger (DD), about the ins and outs of the Dash Diet and dieting. 

Grit Daily: What is the Dash Diet?

Megan Kober: The Dash Diet stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It’s a diet that’s been around for MANY years and it was developed to help people lower blood pressure without medication. Its primary guidelines include reducing sodium and fat and increasing foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. This is not meant to be a weight loss diet. 

Deanna Dahlinger: The DASH diet was not designed to be a weight loss solution, but I often see clients lose weight along the way. This could be because we are restructuring their diet and creating new healthy eating habits. 

GD: From your professional standpoint, what do you think is the Dash Diet? 

MK: The DASH diet is used by medical professionals everywhere to help patients drop their blood pressure, but in my opinion, the guidelines are outdated. One of the most significant contributors to high blood pressure is high blood sugar and insulin resistance – which is often caused by the overconsumption of carbs. However, it IS vitally important to increase potassium, calcium, and magnesium in your diet.  I would also agree with the DASH diet than dairy is important for calcium and K2.

DD: As a dietitian, I believe the DASH diet is a great starting point for clients not only to contest hypertension but to structure an overall healthy diet.  Since every person is unique, from their genetic makeup, lifestyle habits, and environmental exposure, this diet only scratches the surface with how much of an impact our nutrition can have on the prevention and treatment of chronic disease and reaching optimal weight goals. 

Of course, finding and transitioning to another diet that is right for you can be difficult but do you wonder if another diet will work? Has the stigma on dieting altered?  

GD: What do you think about diets and any tips?

MK: Most diets work, at least in the short term. The key phrase here is SHORT TERM. The most popular way to try to lose weight is to remain in a calorie deficit – this means eating less calories and/or exercising to burn more calories. I like my clients to focus on increasing their metabolism, not decreasing their calories. So, eating in a way that turns off hunger hormones and keeps your body in fat-burning mode. The easiest way to do this is to simply make sure you’re eating protein, healthy fat, and fiber at every meal. Not only have I seen initial weight loss success with this, but I’ve seen long term success.

DD:  First, eat REAL food. Focus on whole foods made from real ingredients. Second, don’t look at what you need to take away from your diet, instead focus on what you can ADD IN. When you’re ready to take things a step further, work with a Registered Dietitian who can work with you to create an individualized, maintainable approach to help you reach your nutrition goals. 

Q: What do you think about the “healthy lifestyle” that’s on social media?

MK: As far as influencers on social media who are promoting weight loss – check their credentials. Is it a registered dietitian with 5+ years of nutrition education? Or is it a personal trainer with 0 seconds of nutrition education? Or is it an Instagram model that is getting paid to promote a certain product or diet? Final note – fat burners don’t work, ever, no matter what IG tells you!

DD: Many diet trends and fads seem so glamorous from the outside, promising instant weight loss or whatever outrageous claim it’s attempting to make. But, let’s remember:  

  • They are not tailored for your individual needs. 
  • They restrict certain food groups, therefore causing you to miss out on important micro and macronutrients. 
  • They are not maintainable long term. 
  • They can lead to negative relationships with food.  
Megan Kober, RDN, LD 
IG: @thenutritionaddiction

Deanna Dahlinger, RDN

Jori Ayers is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily based in Tampa, Florida. She was formerly with the editorial team at Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.

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