A New DASH Mediterranean Lifestyle

breast of duck salad

A new DASH Mediterranean Lifestyle is something I’ll be occasionally writing about on Back Road Journal. If you aren’t familiar with DASH, it is the most recommended diet in America. The diet is not a weight loss diet but rather a healthy way of eating that promotes overall health. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and was originally designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure.

healthy salad
A Heart Healthy Duck Salad With Roasted Pumpkin And Mushrooms

The diet can help you live a longer and healthier life by eating foods that are rich in protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium and calcium but low in saturated fats, sugar and salt. The easy diet includes lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, poultry, fish, lean meat, beans, nuts  and low fat dairy and concentrates on the size of the portions not calories.

Now if you are a foodie like myself, you are probably thinking that loosing a few pounds is always a good thing to do from time to time. I will be happy if this new lifestyle results in that. It is, however, not the reason I’m sharing this new way of eating with you. Over the last few years, my husband has had several serious heart issues and during a recent hospital stay, tests indicated heart failure. If you are not familiar with the term, it sounds worse than it is, thank goodness for that. His medications have been updated and he was advised to restrict sodium, watch fluid intake and eat a healthy diet for  improved health.

We have decided to combine the DASH diet and the similar Mediterranean diet, to achieve a healthier lifestyle. As you know from all the recipes that I have shared, we do for the most part, eat healthy meals of freshly prepared food instead of ordering takeout, preparing something from a store-bought mix or buying an already prepared meal from our market.

We do however, have a very busy social life and go to restaurants several times a week with friends. From now on, my husband will only be having the occasional hot dog or deli sandwich piled high with smoked meats at lunch. Dining at our favorite restaurants shouldn’t be too difficult with DASH. We will make sure to select the healthier items on menus, order sauces on the side and ask for extra veggies instead of salty fries.

I’ll be modifying what I cook at home to include as many fresh ingredients as possible as most of the sodium in a typical meal comes from processed foods and cheese and baked goods. When buying condiments, I’m going to compare similar items then pick the ones that are the lowest in sodium, fat and have the fewest calories. When I find a product that I think is really good, I’ll be happy to pass on the information to you. If I discover a way to increase the flavor in dish without adding as much salt, I’ll be passing that along as well.

The recipes that I have shared in the past usually say “salt to taste” and that won’t change as each of us have different dietary needs. If I decide to update one of our favorite meals to make it a healthier dish, I will share the recipe in a new post.

While this change in eating habits is a necessity, I’m hoping that by us making heart smart lifestyle changes and eating a Dash “Mediterranean” style diet, we will both enjoy a longer and healthier life. If you happen to be cooking sodium restricted meals and have a favorite recipe that you think my husband will enjoy or have a trick to make a meal more flavorful without using a lot of salt, I hope you will pass it along.

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42 thoughts on “A New DASH Mediterranean Lifestyle

  1. I love your positive approach to the dietary changes, Karen. I know you eat very healthily anyway but I’m sure your tips will prove useful to many. I always use unprocessed sea salt. Wishing you and your husband a healthy and happy 2020 🙂

  2. We have been low sodium for 20 years! Due to my husband’s sudden severe hearing loss, theory is salt helps retain water in inner ear. Anyway, start some pots of herbs and get Trader Joes low sodium soy sauce and uncured bacon. I had to cut way down on fat this year! Arggh.

  3. Is it kismet? I was told to check into the Mediterranean diet by my Doc. I will be following your adventures in combining the two philosophies closely!

  4. I believe that one of the key ingredients in a Mediterranean diet is olive oil and probably the oleic acid that is contained in it. Oleic acid can also be found in high quantities in goose fat, duck fat and pigs that have been fed on acorns. In the Camargue (France) life expectancy is extremely high on a diet of duck and most things cooked in duck fat.
    I’m not suggesting that the above necessarily fits in with DASH and part of a high Mediterranean life expectancy relates to a more relaxed life style and less stress than Northern Europe or America.
    I hope your husband is doing well.

  5. I wish you both long, healthy, and fulfilling lives.
    We restrict sugar and refined grains in our home, with my husband further reducing grains than the kids and I.
    I discovered a cookbook called Nourishing Traditions with a load of references to studies and research on the eating habits they recommend (eating more like ancestral cultures.) I take their approach with a grain of salt (ha!) but it was interesting to read and talks about heart health and fats.
    To get good flavor in our meals, we make sure anything that can be seared/caramelized in cast iron is (like the veggies before they went in the chicken soup.)
    We also get as many things from the farmer’s market as we can. As I’m sure you’ve known for ages and enjoy in your travels, the better the food was raised and the fresher it is, the less the flavor needs help from seasoning and sauces.

  6. My husband and I have been eating similarly over the past several years. Initially I used the ‘Paleo’ diet as a guideline but then things evolved to be more inline with the DASH diet (unbeknownst to me 😃). I look forward to seeing more recipes and gathering ideas.

  7. I will be very interested to learn more about your experiences with this. I try to eat natural, non-commercially processed foods and am interested in new recipes to try. Thanks for sharing.cae

  8. As we age challenges come up and we have to face them . I know your husband will be in good hands with your cooking.

  9. As we age, we all need to pay attention our heart health, so your posts around this DASH Mediterranean way of eating will be most welcome, Karen. Judging by your photos, no one is going to suffer. 😅

  10. This post is so beautiful, it should be a magazine spread! I would definitely try everything here. My problem is cholesterol, not high blood pressure, so salt isn’t an issue, but I see a lot of foods here that would benefit that condition as well. Unfortunately, I love meat and am not willing to give it up, but, I do cut back occasionally when I need to loose a few pounds. I always feel better when I am eating lots of veggies and small quantities of protein. My husband is Armenian, so this way of eating is familiar, but not necessarily practiced in our home. 🙂 Thanks for a beautiful reminder!

  11. Growing up on Mediterranean foods, I find this approach so sensible. I also like your attitude, in not omitting an occasional treat from your lifestyle. Everything in moderation is the best way to go… 🙂

  12. You have just given me the incentive to start eating healthier! I look forward to recipes you will share.

  13. I do have a medical background and have studied nutrition at university level since 1994. Am still doing so. Except for Diabetes 1 sufferers and the 1% of us who are coeliacs I do not believe in any diets or calorie counting. If you eat healthy foods cooked in a healthy manner and serve that in correct portion size one can forget the rest and make food the huge pleasure it should be. Karen, the recipes you have shown us have almost always fitted the bill. In heart failure and many other conditions, exercise, quality of sleep and absence of stress are as important as food. I have never experienced difficulty in restaurant eating but know and pick my dishes. Personally I rarely eat deep-fried and rarely crumbed food, do not use white flour, rice or pasta as a rule, have no palate for sweet desserts or cakes, have not touched a chip (fry) in 30 years and have accustomed my palate to a low sodium intake – none of that is a diet. There is so much ‘fast food’ which can be made in 15 minutes at home – I do not buy . . . instead enjoying really interesting dishes from perhaps five/six countries in a week. Food should be glorious fun, not a chore . . . Mediterranean ;diet; is NOT a diet – just a way we all should surely be eating . . .

  14. I’m sure you’ll do very well finding ways to combine the healthiest of lifestyle eating and still eating out. In California, and I would think Florida, as well, we have so many wonderful restaurants dedicated to the cuisine you’re describing here. I certainly wish you well. Taking control of our heart health, or health in general, is important and I often wonder why some of my friends have settled for poort health without making dietary changes. It sometimes makes me very sad because I feel they’re making a very serious gamble. You’ll do well!

  15. Good for you Karen. Eating healthily is something we all intend to do but often don‘t put into practice. As vegans we have discovered nutritional yeast as a useful addition to savoury foods and it is a nice addition to spreads and soups instead of salt. We put it on pasta instead of parmesan and mix it in pesto or sauces for a slightly cheesy flavour. 🙂 Good luck!

  16. I’m so sorry for your husband. that must have all been so scary. I hadn’t heard of DASH, but it sounds reasonable. I remember hearing about the diet for hypoglycemics in college and thinking that it seemed like a perfect diet. But whatever diet, it’s never too late to start with little, positive changes. And weight loss?!!! yeah.

  17. Making healthy choices is so important, and I agree that the ingredients we buy is where it should start. Prepared foods are generally toxic, filled with chemicals and preservatives. If I buy a canned product (tomatoes and beans are the one ones I consider), if the ingredient list includes lots of items that aren’t the main ingredients, I put it right back on the shelf. Why should we fill our body with all that? And Eha has it down, too… the Mediterranean Diet isn’t really a diet – it is a healthy lifestyle – and portion control is so important.

    By the way, thanks to you (and a couple fo others), I am taking the plunge and switching to the WordPress platform. I am both excited and nervous – what kind of nightmares are in store for me!? I will keep you posted – – you will once again be able to comment! 🙂

  18. This sounds like a perfect diet (way of eating)! We are always looking for new, creative ways to cook with beans as our 15 year old daughter is not keen on them, and we’d like to prepare more vegetarian meals. Can’t wait to see what’s on your menu next! 🙂

  19. Very glad to hear your husband is doing fine. We have restricted as much salt as possible for quite a while because of an issue my husband deals with. We could certainly make better choices when we eat out and continue to try. I’ll keep an eye out for your recipes, but I must admit I’m not quite as adventuresome as you are with regard to fish choices. 🙂

  20. I can’t offer advice or recipes, Karen, but I applaud your approach and I’m sure you’ll find a way to eat healthily as well as enjoying your food. 🙂 🙂

  21. My husband was diagnosed with heart failure more than four years ago, so I had to make many changes in the way I cook. I found a cookbook that was very helpful–The No-Salt Cookbook by David C Anderson and Thomas Anderson. With help from that book I’ve learned how to use lemon juice, garlic powder and red pepper flakes to add flavor. There are more and more canned goods coming out with no salt–tuna, tomatoes, beans and many others. We’ve even found a low salt version of Vigo Yellow Rice.

  22. Being of Italian descent, I have always included a lot of olive oil in my diet which my doctor says helps keep my HDL high. And I found that when I eat avocado daily my LDL’s are significantly reduced. Avocado every day is my medicine. I’m sure you and your husband will find ways to adjust your diet with tasty, new ideas.

  23. Good luck to both of you on this. I usually order seafood when we dine out–seems the safest option. We both had borderline high blood pressure a couple years ago, but a switch to “lite” salt has (so far) dealt with that.

  24. This is the way I like to eat!!! The only thing I’d truly miss if I followed this 100% would be sodium….but my BP is actually very low, so thankfully, it’s not an issue! My husband, the cardiologist, is the one who really should watch it, LOL. Hope your husband continues to do well on his meds and with this healthy, tasty diet!!

  25. Best wishes to your husband, Karen. That’s certainly a bit of a scary report from the hospital. But as you noted, it’s not that hard to eat delicious food at home. It might require a bit of a change, but it’s not a bad change. Hang in there, and I’m looking forward to some fun new recipes on the Dash-Mediterranean diet!

  26. Thank you for this post, Karen! Just a few weeks ago, I began to prepare Mediterranean style diet and reduce salt and butter…. Thank you for sharing with us.

  27. There’s a lot to love about the Mediterranean diet! It’s so much more reasonable and sustainable (and ENJOYABLE) than so many other approaches being peddled these days. It’s generally very vegan-friendly, or veganizable at least.

  28. It takes a little while to adjust to cooking with a lot less salt, but once you do, you don’t really miss it. If you use a lot of fresh herbs or spices, plus vinegar or citrus for punches of flavor, it really does the trick.

  29. Yes, I’ve read about DASH and it sounds like a good thing, the healthy way of eating with the Mediterranean way. Good luck to your husband!

  30. We have never heard of the Dash diet, but so glad to hear. Like you Karen, our recipes are mostly healthy Italian, and we hate high sodium foods, which is why we eat home 80% of the time. Thanks for this great information, as I will make it more aware to our followers too! Best of luck to your husband, we know he is in good hands! 🙂

  31. The Mediterranean style of eating is wonderful — and pretty easy to follow. We actually eat that way often (although it’s hard to resist Tex-Mex!) Best of luck to your husband.

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