SODIUM, SODIUM, SODIUM – It’s Everywhere!

Day 1 on The Biggest Loser Ranch – NO SALT! Shocker right? It was to this body! No Salt. No Sugar. We had the most wonderful foods, fresh, organic, and low or no salt added. (Some foods naturally have salt.) Imagine 18 people living in one house with no salt and no sugar! I would describe that as: WELCOME to week 1 and 2 with some detoxing, kinda cranky, extremely tired BL contestants! One thing I was shocked to realize was just how much sodium I was taking in on a daily basis. I never thought about it. Have you? We hear much talk about fat and sugars but not so much about sodium! Don’t get me wrong, we NEED sodium in our bodies and it is an essential mineral but at the rate I was going, I had double or even triple the amount of sodium each day than I need.

The picture says Americans eat an average of 3,300 mg of sodium per day and if you were like me pre-BL, I guarantee that number was higher on most days especially days I ate out or is “drive-thru” a different category? On the Ranch 1,500mg was my number to stay under. You know everything has some sodium in it, breads, eggs even fresh vegetables. I heard all these numbers but what does 1,500 mg of sodium look like. One teaspoon of salt has about 2,325 mg of sodium according to the Mayo Clinic website* so I need to have less than that!

I went to the grocery store this week to check out some of the items I used to eat before Biggest Loser just to see the sodium content in them. Yes, I went because they have not found their way back to my house. Here are a few of the things commonly used by me & others:

  • Seasoning sauce 1220mg 1 TBSP (yes my favorite one!)
  • Soy Sauce 920mg 1 TBSP
  • Lite Soy Sauce 530 mg 1 TBSP
  • Seasoning salt 380 mg ¼ tsp (I never measured but I KNOW I used a lot!)
  • Pasta sauce 360-440 mg ½ cup
  • Mac & cheese 580mg 1 cup
  • Ketchup 160-180 1 TBSP
  • Honey Mustard 440 mg 2 TBSP
  • Hot Sauce 490mg 2 tsp
  • Hot Sauce (different brand) 190 mg 1 tsp
  • Sliced Sandwich meats 430-790 mg 3-4 pieces (my palm size & paper thin)

These companies really make us work for our nutrition facts don’t they. The “serving size” in these few things were so varied, I needed a calculator to compare. Then there are those labels like the “lite” soy sauce! I found something that I thought helped a little to “explain” what some of those labels really are supposed to mean.

Know your labels*. Many food packages include sodium-related terms. Here’s what they mean:

  • Sodium-free or salt-free. Each serving in this product contains less than 5 mg of sodium.
  • Very low sodium. Each serving contains 35 mg of sodium or less.
  • Low sodium. Each serving contains 140 mg of sodium or less. • Reduced or less sodium. The product contains at least 25 percent less sodium than the regular version. You should check the label to see how much sodium is in a serving.
  • Lite or light in sodium. The sodium content has been reduced by at least 50 percent from the regular version. You should check the label to see how much sodium is in a serving.
  • Unsalted or no salt added. No salt is added during processing of a food that normally contains salt. However, some foods with these labels may still be high in sodium because some of the ingredients may be high in sodium.

A lower sodium diet matters so much in weight loss and perhaps if your “stuck” in a place and just can’t seem to get that number to fall, start tracking your sodium intake. Lowering your sodium matters to your overall health and affects other conditions. My Mother had some heart problems and she had to watch everything with any sodium as it retained water in her body and added pressure on her heart and raised her already high blood pressure. I became known as the kidney stone “queen” because I had so many due to too much sodium and too little water. It also affected my untreated sleep apnea as I retained and gained, I struggled more to breathe when I slept….

NOT to be discouraged! YOU CAN conquere your salt intake and cravings. Now when I eat something that has too much sodium, it’s all I taste and it seems to stick in the back of my throat for a long time. Here are some tips to help.

  • Be aware of sodium in everything you eat. This is where I like Body Bugg or My Fitness Pal or some programs like those help me track it.
  • Remove the salt shaker from the table.
  • Don’t add salt to recipes unless necessary. There are many good salt-free options to choose. Opt for garlic powder rather than garlic salt…
  • Cut back or cut out as many “processed” foods as possible. This includes those luncheon meats as well as boxed or frozen, 50 ingredient meals with more things in them than you can even pronounce!
  • Go for fresh foods as often as possible.
  • Cut back on eating out at restaurants, drive thru, or order in’s. When you prepare your food, you can have more control over your sodium intake.
  • Rinse can vegetables before cooking. Also, there are frozen foods with low sodium.
  • Soups – BEWARE, most are a full day’s limit or more in one can! Make them yourself and freeze for that cold day that we might have this winter!

There is so much more to that little white stuff than I realized! We need it but for the majority, we have too much and it affects so many other things. As always, check with your doctor to help you know what the right amount is for you.

Tell me if you watch your sodium and why. What tips do you have to share????

 

References:

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2009-mchi/5494.html
  2. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-and-nutrition/AN00350
  3. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sodium/NU00284

 

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3 Responses to “SODIUM, SODIUM, SODIUM – It’s Everywhere!”

  1. Hi Sherri! I have never been one to actually use salt on food and I can usually tell if someone has, however, as I have been plateuing (sp?) your article got me to thinking about the foods I do eat and what their sodium content is. I don’t really check for sodium as I focus more on serving size and calories and sugars, so i’m going to do a test and start watching and see what I can find out! Thank you so much for sharing, I appreciate all you do!!! You certainly inspire me to be a better and healthier person!

  2. Hi Sherry … Since I started my weight loss journey, I stopped adding salt to my foods and I track my sodium intake. What really stands out to me is how THIRSTY I get after going to a restaurant. I had NO IDEA how much salt is cooked into restaurant foods until now.