I am feeling a little “salty”….

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With my whole new dieting craze, I hit a plateau recently. Ok, it is not a new thing: it is two years old. Plus this is the fifth plateau. I asked my doctor what the heck was going on and she called me in and gave me a thorough physical.
Have you ever had an instance where you knew the truth but required a third party to tell you? I am like that often. I knew I needed to eat healthier and lose weight but it took my doctor driving it home to convince me. Two years and 100 lbs later, I am at a standstill. It is both frustrating and scary.
Ok, a food junkie is like any other addict. We fall off the wagon sometimes. My drug of choice isn’t illegal and it’s cheap. Not to mention visiting my relatives on any holiday, birthday, Sunday, day ending in Y, equals a trip to the crackhouse. Here- taste this, eat this, I made this for you, girl you know you like my “fill in the blank”. Sometimes I give in. More often than not I do not. I was even forced to give a speech on several big holidays that I had health problems and I needed my family’s help in keeping me on the straight and narrow food wise.
I flipped the guilt. Instead of the “how dare you not a have a huge piece of chocolate cake I made just for you”; it became “shame on you for offering me bad food that may kill me”. It works for me. Especially after a few key people noticed I had actually lost a lot. I knocked 100 down but I have 150 to go… ugggggh.
So after getting the speech on how the smaller I get the less I can eat and still lose weight ( yeah I know) and the more I need to exercise ( yeah yeah) speeches from my doctor, I said what is wrong? Well, besides the obvious suspects, she said the new four letter word.
Yes, salt, my friend. You already knew I am sure. Well here I am to tell you again. Salt is the new enemy.
It is in the same group as cholesterol, fat, sugar, or anything that may even remotely give you any food based joy besides spices. I had lowered the fat content of my food, I was eating raw vegetables, lean meats, olive oil instead of corn, all of that really helped.
However, my new evil nemesis is salt. Actually it always was. I was just so focused on lowering fat and sugar; I did not pay attention to salt. I should have.
Here is why. Salt makes you retain water, increases your blood pressure, and it makes you weigh more. It also helps your brain and nerves send electrical impulses throughout the body so it can never be 100 % eliminated . My problem is, it makes my fat free, low cholesterol, no sugar added diet edible. Spices and herbs are awesome, but salt rocks my world. Heck it even makes caramel taste better! ( What evil bastard thought up hunks of salt on sweet caramel? Delicious and unhealthy all wrapped up in a salt crusted shell)
I love salt and you do too…
Salt is everywhere. It’s in the air at the lake and ocean front. It is in most drinking water! It is as ubiquitous as spiders and mold spores. You can try your darnest but it is there somewhere.
The average healthy person needs about 2300mg of salt a day. That’s about a teaspoon. Most of us aren’t that healthy and should only use half of that. You may think over the course of a day you do not consume that much salt. You are probably wrong.
Cold cereal has 120 to 400mg of salt per cup. Canned vegetables, prepared sauces and gravies, and soups: they may have up to 700mg per serving. Note I said serving. A serving of cereal is one cup. When is the last time your teen measured out one cup of cold cereal. I will answer for you – never. Heck until I got serious about my food intake, I thought a serving of cereal was a bowl full. That is actually 2 and one half servings with my big bowls. Throw in prepared meat, frozen meat and fish, and anything precooked and you have salt overload.
Not to mention everything at you favorite Chinese restaurant. One little teriyaki or soy sauce liquid package is your salt for the day. Not to mention how much salt you sucked down eating ramen noodles in college or on those quick and cheap food days.
What to do? Look for the salt. Sodium____ anything is a no no. Fresh vegetables and fruit are all salt free – HOORAY! Low fat dressings are loaded with salt and sugar…. BOOOOOO. Make your own dressing. Use a tiny amount of kosher salt and your favorite fruit squeezed fresh with a splash of flavored vinegar ( like champagne, apple cider, balsamic, etc) . Look over the ingredients of whatever you buy. High salt content? Don’t buy it.
I keep a tally of my salt intake just like I do for food calories or weight watchers points. There are salt substitutes but like all things that seem like a good idea, one must be careful. Potassium chloride ( salt substitute which actually a salt just not sodium chloride) has to be taken in small amounts too. Antacids and stomach medications contain salt so if your eat heartburn medication like candy so you can eat spicy food, it is time to stop.
The ultimate way to avoid excessive salt and the high blood pressure and bloat that comes with it… is to cook your own fresh food. Sorry, I know that make you a little “salty”. We have become so lazy that even our home cooked goodies are more like chef Sandra Dee’s “semi homemade” recipes. Salt is for flavor and preserving food. Even my store bought fresh lettuce salad had SALT on the label. All I could say was “what the heck”. The chicken and ham has liquefied salt injected into it for flavor and to jack up the cost. The ultimate naughty item is what? Well that was the salad to me, but maybe it is your favorite vegetable juice blends to the point of up to 900mg per serving. Yikes! A big glass of vegetable juice may be a day’s worth of salt. Geesh, time to dust off the juicer, it’s farmer’s market season.
In today’s modern world you can’t avoid salt 100%. As a matter of fact, your body actually needs salt. It also needs a little sugar and fat. However, just like your sugar should come from fruits and vegetables and your fat from maybe avocados and nuts and olives; try to get your salt from stuff that can not be avoided. Use more herbs and spices. Make homemade goodies more. My vegetable juice is better than the bottled stuff and I know exactly what is in it. Look for low salt versions of your favorite goodies like prepared soups, sauces, etc. At a café, ask for steamed veggies with no salt or butter and put a little spice on it instead. Sorry ketchup, relish, mustard, and other condiments are loaded with salt.
Let’s try together. My initial goal is 2000mg a day. Yesterday I was at 2600. Yes I know that is bad. However the highest was 7800!!!! So it is a process! More homemade goodies knocks off unwanted salt and sugar and fat, etc.
How do you keep your salt intake low? Tell me about it!
I am at: askmelissa@melissaweblog.com

Love and light,

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