DASH to a Healthy Heart

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This presentation idea is an excerpt from our brand-new educational program, The 12 Lessons of Diabetes. This program follows the same format as the other fantastic 12 Lessons packages and is chock-full of insight from a wide variety of health and nutrition professionals.

Trying to teach the basics of the DASH diet and promote heart health? Do this great activity, which is perfect for a class session or a break during a heart health presentation.

Assemble a display of elements of the DASH diet. This should include pictures, models, or empty containers of healthful foods. Add some exercise equipment (to represent the importance of physical activity), and a scale or tape measure (to represent weight management). Arrange these items into your display before participants arrive.

Once everyone has made it to the classroom, discuss the display:

  • What is included?
  • What is absent?
  • Why?

Ask participants to brainstorm the link between all these items. After the discussion, reveal that these are all key elements of the DASH diet, which was developed to help fight high blood pressure.

Pass out copies of DASH to Better Blood Pressure (included in the handout portion of this month's newsletter and available online). Have students read through it. Discuss its main points as a group, then have participants list the steps they are going to take in order to reduce their high blood pressure (or their high blood pressure risk, if they currently don’t have high blood pressure) on the back of the page. These can remain private or be shared with the class, depending on your group’s comfort level.

No handout? No problem! Have students extrapolate from the display and discussion to create a guide to the DASH diet in their notes.

If you need decorations for your classroom or office, have the participants make and illustrate their own handouts, then turn them in to you. You can make the DASH handout design into a contest and display the winners, or just photocopy the best ones for distribution to the rest of the class.

If you have access to computers or smartphones, participants could also do further research on the DASH diet with those, incorporating what they find into their handouts.

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