Track Your Progress on the DASH Diet - dummies

Track Your Progress on the DASH Diet

By Sarah Samaan, Rosanne Rust, Cynthia Kleckner

Keeping a record of your food intake and exercise routine with the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can help you measure your success. Writing these things down helps you organize your goals, stay on track, and ultimately lower your blood pressure.

For instance, say you set a goal to add more low-fat dairy foods to your diet. Ask yourself: “How many more servings of dairy am I consuming every day now?” Perhaps you’ve also set some goals to increase physical activity: “Have I accomplished my goal to exercise for an hour three days a week?” Keep in mind that your goals are specific to you.

It’s a good idea to keep a food and exercise record every day for the first week or two after you begin the DASH diet. After that you can continue keeping the record or just check in two or three days a week and record those days. The purpose of tracking your progress is to help you see what’s missing in your diet and help you focus on specific goals.

After a goal becomes habit, you can move on to the next goal. Some people find setting up a reward system motivating. Perhaps one of your dietary goals is to replace the candy bar you eat every afternoon with a piece of fruit or a yogurt parfait.

You can set up a reward system related to the goal, like treating yourself to a manicure on Saturday if you skip the candy bar every day that week.

Of course, everyone has setbacks, and you may occasionally blow off your diet and exercise plans. If this happens after you stop recording your progress, resume writing down what you eat and when and how much you exercise.

It’s also helpful to create a simple to-do list for the following day after you’ve blown it, perhaps something as simple as, “Tomorrow, I’ll have yogurt, a banana, and one slice of whole-grain toast for breakfast; I’ll go for a walk at lunchtime and order a salad; and I’ll cook dinner at home.”