So we’ve gone over all the macro-nutrients. Fats, proteins, carbohydrates, but there is one last nutrient that I don’t think we pay attention to enough. Sodium. It’s a mineral that we find in so much of our food. It effects those of us that are trying to lose weight, suffering from high blood pressure, or effected with heart failure. Now many of us, either in our own weight loss attempts or by watching reality TV, have noticed that in the first few weeks of eating healthy a great deal of weight is lost. Most of this weight loss is from water weight. When you start eating more fresh foods and less processed or fried foods you, consequently, eat less salt. This means that all the water weight that the salt was causing you to retain is allowed to leave your body! It’s a little like magic. Now, I like a good handful of salt and vinegar chips myself, but the one thing I am very very careful about is my salt intake.
Salt isn’t necessarily bad for you. In fact your body needs sodium in order for your heart, nerves, and muscles to work correctly. Eating too much salt, however, can lead to kidney disease, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure… not to mention it can really block your weight loss goals.
Here’s the thing: We should really be limiting our sodium intake to 1500 to 2300mg per day. That sounds like a lot… until you find out that one teaspoon of table salt has about 2300mg of sodium and that, on average, Americans eat about 3400mg of sodium per day. Wow! Just to give you a little perspective, who likes Pei Wei or PF Changs? Google their menus. Most of their entrees contain the daily value, if not double the daily quantity of salt in one serving. Holy cow… have you put your eggroll down yet?
So how do we watch our sodium intake? Well, coming from a family with sodium sensitivity and heart failure I’ll tell you what I do and then share a few internet resources. First, don’t add salt to your food if you can help it. Salt is great for tenderizing meat, but try adding other seasonings other than salt when the food gets to the table. Use foods that have their own salty flavor to your food. Celery, tomatoes, and garlic are great savory examples. Second, make fresh food and eat fresh food. I’ve even gone so far as to make my own broth sometimes. Eat as little processed food as possible (Am I repeating myself? Didn’t I say this in the last few blogs? You bet!). Third, don’t go out to eat all the time. Learn to love your own leftovers! Leftovers, especially soups this time of year, are delicious the second and third days in the fridge. They actually get better. Also remember it doesn’t matter if your salt is pink and Himalayan or white and iodized. Salt is salt is salt is salt so be careful! Keep a food journal to track your salt intake until you get the hang of it!
Need to eat something packaged? That’s fine! Remember, we love our salt and vinegar chips, but everything in moderation. Just read your nutrition facts:
The DASH diet is a great way to eat correctly and bring your sodium intake down. I love the Mayo Clinic website for their information:
Hopefully I’ve kicked you off in the right direction. Now how about those New Year’s Resolutions? Next week, just to kick everything off in the right direction I’ll be going over cleanses. Safe? Not safe? What’s the right way to do one? Stay tuned!