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.
were a commercial for the DASH diet, I'd volunteer to be a spokesperson,"
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.
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
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
This story is based on information gathered from many people facing this health issue.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (2006).
Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure With DASH
(NIH Publication No. 06-4082). Available online:
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.