"It allows people to feel more comfortable to use and more friendly, but I think it also makes people realize that variety is the key; that them eating healthy, that eating lower sodium, that eating a variety of foods does not have to be as complicated as sometimes we can make it." - Maria-Paula Carillo, MS, RDN, LD
Shireen: Maria-Paula Carillo is a private practice dietitian and the owner of Life Cycle nutrition in Allen, Texas. Day after day, she focuses on translating the science of nutrition into practical information her patients and clients can use having a family of her own. Maria-Paula gets satisfaction in helping individuals and families achieve their nutrition and health goals. She is passionate about her faith family, friends, food and fitness. Welcome, Maria-Paula.
Maria-Paula: Thank you so much Shireen for having me. I'm excited to be here with you guys.
Shireen: Oh, an absolute pleasure. Thank you for coming on. I want to kick things off by talking about what inspired you to become a registered dietician and really focus on the D.A.S.H. diet.
Maria-Paula: Yes, so as a, as a teenager, I was born and raised in South America and Ecuador. And my mom took me to see a registered dietician, I had grown up seeing nutrition in different ways changing, you know, one day is one day or the next day is another diet and these changes probably the way that we see it online these days. He was on the weekly magazine at that time. So getting to visit with a registered dietician and getting to see and understand and being taught the true science of nutrition and how food is actual fuel and food empowers our bodies and strengthens our bodies really gave me the desire to discover more about the science of nutrition. So as an early teenager, I had that inclination that that's what I wanted to do. And I pursued those dreams, I came to the United States, got my education here and just continue to do that. D.A.S.H. diet falls perfectly into place with my goals of educating the science of nutrition, making it practical for people to follow. I strive to allow others to better understand how nutrition and the foods that they eat allows their body to be healthier and stronger and allow them to live the best lifestyle that they possibly can. And D.A.S.H. diet has that behind it, it has balance, it has inclusion of nutrients and then it has years of research behind it.
Shireen: Now you have, you have a book, along with Katie McGee have this book called, on D.A.S.H. diet. The book is called Diet Meal Prep: 100 Healthy Recipes and Six Weekly Plans. Talk us through the basics of the D.A.S.H. diet and what populations could really benefit most from it.
Maria-Paula: Yes, of course. So D.A.S.H. diet is. First of all, it's definitely not a fad diet when people don't understand what D.A.S.H. is. D.A.S.H. actually stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension. So it is an eating pattern that was developed to prevent and treat high blood pressure and to promote heart health. So that's the basis of where this diet came from. It's one of the most favorite diets for health professional allied health professionals, heart health, doctors, dieticians, because of its simplicity, because the fact that it includes all different food groups, and again, going back to the beginning the research behind it and the science that's allowed us to see what the benefits are. So it truly helps decrease that blood pressure in many patients, whether people that have hard heart issues, so already they're suffering with hypertension, or even those with normal blood pressure even decreases dose them. So who could benefit from it, I think that would be the number one population would be those suffering from hypertension, or anyone trying to decrease their blood pressure, lower their blood pressure, but it also leads to a variety of different benefits, it does help with maybe bone health because of some of the nutrients that are included in the diet, it might help with diabetes. And it might also help with weight control, even though it was not necessarily created at that point or that. So that's a little bit of the basis of the diets that came through.
Shireen: And then how does the D.A.S.H. diet help those individuals who mentioned those with diabetes with hypertension? How exactly is it doing that? How is it helping them manage their condition better?
Maria-Paula: So the D.A.S.H. diet in addition to including a variety of different food groups, so it encourages lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, low fat or nonfat dairy. So the nutrients from these foods in combination with limiting high sodium foods, sweets, sugary beverages, and some types of red meat lead to some of these benefits. This is by embracing potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein and fiber while reducing sodium. So those that's the mechanism that helps these levels improve in their, provides the health benefits of the diet.
Shireen: And it talked to us about some of the research on, on how exactly to impact someone you know, who has for instance, cancer or diabetes risk even. How is that helping them?
Maria-Paula: So with the diabetes risk, there's some new research that, showing that because of the additional protein, again, some of the nutrients that we talked about the balance, it helps with weight loss, improve insulin resistance and decreasing those cholesterol levels. So it's again, it's a combination of a decreased fat in the diet, choosing those leaner proteins, decreasing the added sugars and creating more fiber intake by adding more fruits and vegetables into the diet. So a lot of these things were naturally healthified, the diet improved than the diet from a nutrition standpoint allow for increased levels of blood sugars, you know, high blood sugar levels decreases those helps with healthier fat intake as well decreasing cholesterol levels by choosing leaner proteins choosing nonfat or low fat dairy as well. Those are usually the guidelines and bad as there's even some research about helping with bone health. Because of the calcium intake that is higher in the DASH diet, calcium, potassium being minerals that lead to improved blood pressure also have mechanisms that help with bone health. So in combination with vitamin D, as far as recipes, and the foods and ingredients used in a lot of these recipes, as well as additional protein help also to promote health in the bones.
Shireen: And so now that you're talking about recipes, let's talk about meal plans. What do you feel are the benefits of having a meal plan, like the ones in your book for those who may need to really adhere to that D.A.S.H. diet?
Maria-Paula: Of course. So I think that was a little bit of what got us also excited is providing people tools to help them be successful anytime someone is recommended to follow a certain dietary plan can be very overwhelming. I do this day to day in practice. And Katie and I saw eye to eye on this as being able to simplify were two moms that are registered dieticians who have a passion of educating so having a meal plan truly allows individuals or families save money, reduce waste, improve their cooking skills, save time, maintain a healthy eating pattern, and even monitor portion sizes. If we focus specifically with D.A.S.H., you know, this book provides not just the recipe, but it actually provides a shopping list, it really takes away the guesswork out of the planning, the grocery shopping and the cooking. It is truly a roadmap, they can help individuals increase their confidence, their adherence to the diet was still developing skills that help them change their, their health habits. So it's very user friendly, I say even those that are not very experienced in the kitchen can truly open the book, the book kind of grows in parts and develops as you use it. And I even had my preteen kids helping me in the kitchen as we develop some of these recipes. And it really became fun participating together. And that's I think the goal is to take away a little bit of that fear of being in the kitchen for those that are not as comfortable and maybe giving ideas to those that are a little bit more experienced.
Shireen: And so when you're talking about you know, grading these shopping lists, so you have something tangible that you can walk into the grocery store with and not sort of be tempted by some of the other foods and sort of really go in with a, with a plan. Um, do you feel like then meal plans really become like this longer term solution to sort of change those habits and incorporate healthy behaviors, even outside of the D.A.S.H. diet? Or is it more individual preference and sort of what works for them?
Maria-Paula: Yeah, I think one of my favorite things that I like to tell people is that are, our diets as individuals, they're up to us, it definitely becomes a personal preference. Our diet is what, what we eat on a daily basis, whatever that might be, like you said that versus someone that has to follow a gluten free diet because they have celiac disease or, or maybe a low fat diet, because they have gallbladder issues. So there's such a variety of different needs. And there it is up to that individual. There are so many benefits that come from that. And I think it is essential that people find out what works for them. For some, I think it helps them to learn about portion control, including variety, different cooking techniques, it gives them confidence in creating some of those meals. So I feel like if they're able to get a book and maybe follow it for six weeks, and that is enough to prompt them to continue, then so be it if someone maybe needs to just open the book and follow a recipe because beyond them the weekly meal plan There's also 100 recipes, maybe they want to find something that they feel excited about something that closer attention, they can pick that recipe prepared for their family or for themselves and they just continue on. So I think it definitely allows for that it can mix and match if they need to continue. That's a little bit part of having the additional recipes is that you can now get the meal plan and pick substitute a lunch recipe for one of the extra recipes and continue to do so. It allows people to feel more comfortable to use and more friendly, but I think it also makes people realize that variety is the key; that them eating healthy, that eating lower sodium, that eating a variety of foods does not have to be as complicated as sometimes we can make it.
Shireen: And when we're talking about, about the D.A.S.H. diet, I guess in general, what are the, what are the main pillars of the D.A.S.H. diet, if I don't know everything I need to know about the D.A.S.H. diet, what are some basic principles within the D.A.S.H. diet that I should accommodate, that I should essentially, you know adapt within my diet.
Maria-Paula: So probably my favorite things about D.A.S.H. diet is going back; it does include a variety of the different food groups. So it includes fruits, vegetables, none of those fruits and vegetables out of the question. It includes whole grains, none which are limited. So whether is brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole grain crackers or so quinoa, it includes lean proteins like chicken and lean beef and fish. It includes eggs, it includes nonfat dairy or low fat dairy, so yogurt, milk cheese, so it truly provides a variety of options to mix and match and create almost any recipe using those ingredients. Some of the additional things that come from choosing those foods is making sure that the recipes have a proper amount of calcium fiber, low sodium. So I think that's one of the keys is trying to use different herbs and spices to CSUN in flavor foods instead of sodium. And that's I think one of the biggest keys in translating a recipe and making them more dash friendly is letting go of the salt shaker and using more herbs and spices and indicating that's one of the things that we had fun also with the book is putting tables, there's such a great variety of herbs to be used. There's fresh herbs, a lot of people feel a little intimidated by fresh herbs because they go bad. They don't know how to use them. Well. They have freeze dried herbs, they have dried herbs, they have pastes that can be refrigerated, slightly dry, there's just such a wide variety that it's fun to experiment with.
Shireen: And so what is what is a big no no, in the Dutch day outside of salt, we certainly talk about what salt….
Maria-Paula: Salt and salt and fatty red meat. So we want to limit, we want to really focus with, say with a lean protein at a lot of added sugars. So some sugar in moderation is okay. But high sugars are going to be no no's in the in the D.A.S.H. diet.
Shireen: So coming back to when we're talking about meal plans. So how can people really who've never meal plan before really start meal meal planning and really incorporating that D.A.S.H. diet if they want to start you know, sort of being more conscious about the salt that they're putting in the, you know, the added sugars, all of that? How can one sort of start incorporating that it doesn't have to be all or nothing either, right? So how can we begin to slowly start incorporating that in our diet?
Maria-Paula: So our book was written in a way that truly allows those that are more beginners and those that are more familiar with meal planning and meal, prepping the ability to just jump right in and just start cooking. There's six weeks of plans like we said it but there's also recipes that continue to offer variety through the weeks. And the number of recipes per meal plan increase as the weeks go on. So week one only has three recipes versus we two continues. And as the week's go on, you'll see that even snacks get added that you have more variety between lunch and dinner that week, and so forth. So it truly allows people to jump in in a easy way and to kind of warn their feet as they're kind of focusing on this process of adding different foods to to their plan they can choose also, like we said before, to pick one recipe and prepare that and add that maybe they have other plans that we do. Maybe not eat at home and they want to be able to continue to do so. But I really think that the more that people can focus on including some more of these recipes and following the meal plans, it does become easier to understand how to modify recipes, how to become more comfortable if we are looking into creating that drink in their cooking skills in their confidence in the kitchen and repairing different dishes that might need their cultural men meet their financial needs. In regards to food preparation, we've also been very key into choosing recipes that use ingredients wisely to save money to help with budget and to reduce waste. So if we are preparing maybe half a pepper in one recipe, the other half of the pepper will be using a different recipe. So it really allows people to start thinking about food preparation a little bit different.
Shireen: You know, one of the things that I'm not hearing you say which I actually love is, is that the D.A.S.H. diet equals weight loss because that's not the focus of the D.A.S.H. diet. Can you speak to, can you speak to that?
Maria-Paula: Yeah, so the D.A.S.H diet was not intentionally created as a weight loss diet. It helps many lose weight because of the portion control because of the higher intake of fruits and vegetables and changing the way that we portion foods that we choose foods. It naturally decreases the fat intake in the diet and therefore leading to that weight loss and where that is not the overall goal. It is part of one of the benefits of the D.A.S.H. diet. I like to tell people that the weight will come off if we focus on making healthier choices, better choices for us, more nutrition choices on a day to day basis.
Shireen: Let's talk about cultural competence, you know for, from our viewpoint with what we do at Yumlish that is huge, right? So what we cuisines are, you know most represented in the book and how can reincorporate the D.A.S.H. diet within ethnic foods as well?
Maria-Paula: Well, we have a nice array of choices we have from ceviche to maybe Mediterranean recipes to, you know, Tex Mex recipes. So we've tried to really include a great variety, we have some Italian dishes there included as well. And we really had fun mixing and matching. I think that's the other beauty is Katie and my culture combined, we really came up with such a nice and neat variety of recipes there. And I would say there's lots of favorites. And my family has her favorites. I can say the breakfast hash is one of my kids favorites. And my neighbors love the little breakfast muffins. And that's one of their favorites. I think Katie has mentioned her son loves the berries with whipped cream. And so there's just great choices to kind of pick around. But definitely something to kind of keep in mind too. I think as cultures, different people from different cultures try the diet, they can also see how it's easily modified to their cuisine, it's, it's very easy to include those variety of ingredients. And it's just a matter of making substitutions and using the right herbs and spices that are culturally appropriate that our favorite, right, I grew up with a lot of cilantro and a lot of cumin in our foods. So those are definitely some of my favorite. And immediately when I use some of those, because the aromas and the smells and tastes, they just completely changes the food preparation.
Shireen: I love that. So, so with that, Maria-Paula, we're toward the end of the episode. Here's where I'd love to ask you to see how can our listeners connect with you and learn more about your work?
Maria-Paula: Yes, I'm the owner and registered dietician at lifecycle nutrition in Allen, Texas. And you can visit me at life cycle hyphen, nutrition, calm and get more about me. And if you want to find me on social media at lifecycle rd.
Shireen: Okay, and then you also have your book on the D.A.S.H. side, we've been talking so much about it, what we are going to do is for our audience who's a you know, for our listeners here today, we are going to link the the book in the in our show notes so folks can get access to you know, they can see see the book there. So with that, Maria-Paula, thank you so very much for your time here with us today.
Maria-Paula: Thank you, Shireen, looking forward to talking to you guys soon.
Shireen: Thank you. And so to our listeners out there, we want to, we want to ask you, are you familiar with the D.A.S.H. diet? Yes or no? And so answer this question, go to our social media, answer the question there and tell us if you are familiar with the D.A.S.H. site, and if you weren't now that you are familiar with it, is this something that you would incorporate into your diet? Again, you can head over to our social media, head over to our Facebook at Yumlish and answer the poll there. And so we will see you next week. Thank you.