As a chubby 12 year old, I know too well the feeling of being a pink pudgy in my Sweetheart Dance dress, how my body was not the right fit for hip-hugging jeans with 2-inch zippers (the result now fondly known as ‘muffin tops’), and being constantly critical of myself. Thanks to a caring mom, The Teenage Diet Book, and a lifetime membership to the Grecian Health Spa (no they are NOT still around as they promised), I found my natural weight in no time. Point being, changing to a healthier diet and exercising more, is the key to change regardless of how you do it.
Today, as the dietitian for an online nutrition education program, I just made the realization, after reading research findings on the DASH diet for teens, that I did then exactly what the DASH diet recommends now. High fat, high starch, high calorie food choices (like hot dogs, hamburgers and OMG, remember Hamburger Helper? It was the new thing then and we had it 3-4 times a week!) were replaced with low fat milk and low sugar cereal, lots more veggies on my plate and less meat and potatoes, and the indulgent grapefruit sections (tidily placed in glass jars and sold for bunches of dough but well worth it) that replaced ice cream at night. Plus, appropriate serving sizes became clearer to me.
DASH’s full name is Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension but even as an evidence-based hypertension approach, it has been voted #1 diet in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report. The teen study started with 9-year olds. Those eating more DASH-like gained the least amount over 10 years. That’s huge news! DASH has been proven to reduce blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol as well as weight. Whether you’re a kid, adolescent, or adult of any age, the DASH eating style is for you. Emphasizing low-fat dairy, fish and lean meats, nuts, fruit, whole grains, vegetables and legumes means means healthy overall, not just weight.