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have more success in changing your eating habits if you make a plan. The plan
should include long-term and short-term goals as well as ideas for getting past
barriers—things that might get in the way of changing your eating
What is your long-term goal? A long-term goal is something you
want to reach in 6 to 12 months. When you have high blood pressure, the
long-term goal is to lower your blood pressure to a specific level. Talk to
your doctor about what your specific long-term goal should be.
What are the short-term goals that will help you reach your long-term goal?
Short-term goals keep you going day to day. They are usually goals you hope to
reach tomorrow or next week.
Look at the DASH eating plan. Come up with a short-term goal
that looks pretty easy. For example, you might decide that your first
short-term goal will be to eat 4 servings of vegetables every day. As soon as
you've made those extra vegetables a habit, you can add another short-term
some ideas for eating with the DASH plan:
Many people find that it helps to write down
everything they eat every day. That way they can easily see how much of each
food group they've eaten and where they need to add or cut back
A registered dietitian can work with you to
change your eating habits and help you plan menus that follow the DASH eating
style. Ask your doctor to recommend someone.
Take the time to think about what things could get in the way
of your success. These are called barriers. And by thinking about them now,
you can plan ahead for how to deal with them if they happen.
of a barrier might be eating in restaurants. If you do that a lot, you may want
to plan ahead for how you will stay on your DASH plan when you eat out.
Possible solutions could include:
It's perfectly normal to try something, stop it,
and then get mad at yourself. Lots of people have to try and try again before
they reach their goals.
Having a lot of support can make it easier to change your
eating habits. For example, if family members tell you that they love how
you're getting healthier, you may be motivated to keep up the good work. Here
are some other ways to get support:
It can be frustrating to start a new project like
healthy eating and then have to stop because something gets in the way—illness,
travel, or even just boredom. Your goal is to get back in the habit and make it
a routine part of your life.
you can't create a habit overnight. Keep at it, even if you slip up along the
way. It can take as long as 3 months of repetition to form a habit, so every
day is a step in the right direction.
you slip up, don't get mad at yourself or feel guilty. Think of it as a
learning experience. Figure out what happened. Why did you stop? Think of ways
to get yourself going again. Learn from your slip-ups so that you can keep on
toward your goal of healthy eating.
Other Works Consulted
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (2006).
Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure With DASH
(NIH Publication No. 06-4082). Available online:
April 5, 2013
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
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