Dieting in a DASH

Jenny Ilgenfritz and Rhonda Vargason are both self-proclaimed DASH dieters.

They're even taking a weekly DASH-cooking class at Vince's Deli in Corfton, Md.

Both ladies say it's worth the hype.

The diet is “top two. I mean, I enjoyed weight enjoyed Weight Watchers, but I really like the DASH diet,” Vargason said.

U.S. News and World Report named the DASH diet the best overall diet of 2012.

Ilgenfritz started it last year.

“I have noticed that since I begun the diet that my energy levels have increased, I'm getting a lot less headaches, I'm not having my late night cravings like I used to,” Ilgenfritz said.

The dash in DASH diet stands for dietary approaches to stopping hypertension. It was founded in the early 90s at the national institutes of health as a way to lower blood pressure in patients with heart disease. But as of late, experts have seen that it's not only good for the heart, but the body overall—many dieters say they feel great and are shedding weight.

“It doesn't say you can't have this, obviously it's limited in sugars and fats, but it does incorporate a well-balanced diet that I think is pretty realistic for most people,” said Dr. Claire Lebrun, Senior Dietician at George Washington Hospital.

The biggest concept of the DASH diet is to completely cut back on sodium. That means no table salt—even when you cook. Dashers also eat small portions, minimal red meat, and a lot of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

“In my view, that's a pretty good way to go about it too if you don't want to be told eat this many servings from these food groups,” Lebrun said.

That reason is exactly why both of these women say this diet is the best one they've ever tried.

“Once you sort of understand the concept of the diet it’s been really really easy to follow,” Ilgenfritz said.

“I cannot tell you how great it is to be able to get up and be able to feel like wow I could walk a mile today and not be exhausted at the end of it. It’s a great freedom,” Vargason said.

As with all diets experts say it's important to include exercise. Dr. Lebrun also suggests incorporating a support group, similar to a cooking class. A DASH Diet cooking class meets at Vince's Deli every Monday and Wednesday evening at 6:30 .pm. More information on such classes can be found on at

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