“Sodium Epidemic”… How did we get here???

img_20161028_135833515_hdrFirst I want to say I am not a Dietician or a Nutritionist. I am just a normal gal with an opinion formed by life experience. A life experience I would rather not claim but one that opened my eyes to many things I never thought of or took seriously.

Before my husband had his 2 heart attacks and discovered he was diabetic I thought I was pretty health conscious and was the typical wife yelling at the Husband to take better care of himself. I always tried to stay educated on the latest health information, I exercised regularly, and I always tried to eat well…or so I thought.

Then after his health crisis we had to lead a completely whole new way of life. I was totally fine with it because I believe in good health and good eating. But, what I learned along the way was shocking and I have wanted to tell everyone I see since.

My Husband is now on a very restricted diet that is cardiac and diabetic friendly. Takes some real thought to carry it out everyday. They told us he had to stay under 2000 mg of sodium a day. I’m like, “Ok..no biggie.. we will just put the salt shaker away.” Ha ha ha…little did I know.

We had to start researching everything we ate. I had to have nutritional info on EVERYTHING. So as I was reading about packaged foods and foods we eat in restaurants I was FLOORED!!!! The amounts of sodium in what we eat everyday should be illegal.  How we got to this point in the food industry I will never understand. My opinion is that it’s cheap and tastes good. And for that reason, as a society, we are so addicted to salt and sugar and it’s now normal, and all we know and what we crave.

I strongly invite you to Google your favorite restaurants nutritional info. There were a few of our favorite appetizers that had 2500-4000 mg of sodium EACH!!! Pair that with your entrée and dessert and your sodium is at a level in the stratosphere!! And that’s for ONE meal! Remember.. my husband is to only have around 2000 mg a DAY. Do the math.

So most of us have been taught our whole lives to watch the calories..watch the fat.. watch the carbs..but little is spoken about sodium unless you have high blood pressure or heart disease.

My belief is that we are now in this high sodium society because of fast paced lives, convenience and cost . When you go to a high end restaurant where the Chef prepares foods from scratch with fresh ingredients, the sodium counts are significantly lower. So you ask.. but I see them add salt??? Yes they do.. BUT..it’s DURING the cooking PROCESS as a binder to the other spices and ingredients. It adds a balance of flavor. You don’t JUST taste salt. Most restaurants now try to provide less expensive dishes at a fever pace. They want those tables rotating and most of us don’t have time to linger anyway. So how they accomplish this is by preparing meals with pre-prepared ingredients already loaded with sodium for flavor and as a preservative. This is how we are ending up with such high sodium contents in our restaurant food.

Back when I was growing up or even when our parents were children we didn’t eat out like we do now. We prepared most meals at home and usually packed our lunches. Our food supply was also not loaded with as many preservatives, additives or chemicals. We had more backyard gardens and we ate smaller portions. Without cell phones and technology we were generally more active and kids STAYED outside. Things sure are different these days. We have to fight our kids to get off those phones and to get moving. With our crazy busy lifestyles we just don’t take the time to meal plan, cook, or garden. Kids have so much homework they don’t have time to get outside. I was just as guilty for many years of the convenience foods. Instant this, quick that, and really didn’t read those labels. I would say over the last 10 years though I have really tried to educate myself. And, as I have gained knowledge I have become very conscious of what we eat and what is in it. I started to wonder why every time we ate out I would come home feeling bloated, tired and just terrible…even when I thought I was making healthy choices off the menu. Now I come to find out it was mainly the high levels of sodium. The other hidden no-no’s didn’t help either… fat being one of them.

I will happily say that since we have cut all the extra sodium out of our diet, ( you need some everyday) I feel completely different. I have noticed such a change in myself. I don’t retain water, I rarely feel bloated, and I just FEEL better. And I know how healthy it is on my heart and my blood pressure. And it honestly is a pretty easy change you can make. Just takes some knowledge and some practice and smart shopping. Nutritional labels are your friends!!!

Here’s one of the best examples I discovered…

One of my favorite canned tomato brands I used for years in all my sauces and recipes turned out to have more sodium than I would have ever dreamed! It’s tomatoes! How much sodium could they possibly have? I don’t think I ever looked at the label. Tomatoes naturally have sodium but not very much. They are a super healthy food… until they put them in a can with a bucket of salt! Here is what I discovered about my favorite canned tomato sauce when I started REALLY reading labels….img_20161019_072844733

The first label is the regular canned sauce.. the second is the NO SALT ADDED. Which is what you want to look for. Most “lower sodium or less salt” products are still pretty high in sodium. So please take the serving size of both cans and multiply it by how many mg of sodium PER SERVING… It’s SHOCKING the difference. You are talking 5330 mg of sodium a can as compared to 130 mg a can for the no salt added. That is just so crazy to me and sadly most people don’t realize it. I didn’t either until I was forced to figure it out. img_20161019_105329081

Thing is, it is so easy to add flavor and your own salt to the no salt added products. The healthiest thing to do is to start your cooking with no, to low sodium ingredients and add everything yourself so that you have total control of what is in your food.

And as I have walked along this road of nutritional discovery, I have come across many products from companies who are really trying to make the change. I see more and  more no salt added products and it is about time. I still use the same brand of canned tomatoes I always did, but I only use their no salt added products and I really think I like them better. I swear they have more flavor, because you just taste the wonderfulness of the tomato and not all the salt.

So, if you are health conscious or have a loved one who has health challenges, I hope you will take a look at a lower sodium lifestyle. Talk to your doctor to see what your recommended amount of sodium would be and start to really take a look at those labels. Your heart, mind, and body will thank you…and you will feel great!!img_20161028_135833515_hdr

Created with love by:

Creations_by_Char

Char Head 🙂

 

 

 

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