Sodium-the unexpected enemy

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I haven’t always been a healthy eater.  College, a time when my basal rates were way too high, is a perfect example at how unhealthy I was.  I would eat way too many carbs just so my blood sugar wouldn’t go too low because my basal rates were so high.  Recently, though, I’ve been trying to eat healthier.  The motivation for eating healthy stemmed from the fact I gained about 30 pounds after getting married and wanted to lose the “wedding weight” which combined with motivation to get my A1C below seven so I could begin trying to getting preggers.  I haven’t really “dieted” but more been focused on trying to eat less calories than I expend.  Although, I have tried to eat healthier options, which provide better calories than junkier food.  I even tried a clean eating challenge last fall.

Overall, I’m pretty content with my eating habits.  I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.  I get a lot of protein.  I am allergic to milk so I make up for the calcium with string cheese.  The past year or so, when I was trying to lose my “wedding” weight, I used My Fitness Pal a lot to keep track of calories.  My Fitness Pal also helped to keep track of carbs, which was a win-win for me.  One thing that I never EVER paid attention to was my sodium intake.

I know sodium is not good.  I add salt to my french fries, Mexican chips and rice, but besides that I don’t really add salt to anything.  Since I don’t eat fries, Mexican or rice all that often, I figured I wasn’t overloading on sodium.  I just never paid attention to it because I didn’t think it was something I really needed to pay attention to.  However, last year my blood pressure was high for the first time.  I wasn’t sure why this was but I attributed it to my salt intake.  I started to try and “be good” and not add salt to my fries. I thought this must help my blood pressure.  However, I really didn’t see a change in my blood pressure until I stopped taking my birth control pill last fall.  Since I stopped taking my pill, my blood pressure has been amazing.  So again, I wasn’t too worried about sodium.

However, that all changed about a month ago.  Putting the food I eat into My Fitness Pal to track my calories and carbs, I realized that WHOA my sodium intake is ridiculously high!  The US Department of Agriculture and the Mayo Clinic recommend you get less then 2300 mg of sodium per day.  The American Heart Association recommends even less at 1500 mg per day.  The Mayo Clinic stated the most Americans get an average of 3500 mg per day,  way more than needed!  If I look at a few of my typical days, you can see how every day I go over (don’t judge me on my food choices):

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Some things I’ve realized:

  • Fast food has a ton of sodium (obvious right?)
  • Sliced deli meat has a LOT of sodium (didn’t realize it was so high)
  • String cheese has some sodium which on it’s own isn’t a ton but when you eat 4 or 5 a day, it can add up
  • Canned foods also have a TON of sodium, so when I think I’m eating healthy by having canned green beans, I’m not really
  • Clean Eating diet really has a LOT of benefits besides the obvious ones that I thought.  Eating clean has a lot less sodium.
  • Food labeled as reduced sodium or lower sodium are deceiving.  Often, they still have a LOT of sodium so be careful to check the sodium content.

Too much sodium can lead to a lot more than just high blood pressure.  It can increase your risk for stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, kidney disease and stomach cancer.  Since I’m still fairly young, I’ve only ever been concerned with my blood pressure but I’m becoming aware that my bad habits can lead to a much more difficult life down the road.  I am not planning to go back to only eating clean, but I’m definitely going to be more aware of my sodium intake and work to keep it under the recommended amounts.

Some good links I found:

8 thoughts on “Sodium-the unexpected enemy

  1. Such good info here, thanks!! Sodium truly is one of those “hidden” things lots of us don’t pay attention to. Cutting out a LOT of fast food (included in that would also be pizza, Chinese food, etc) has been one of the best things I have done to reduce sodium intake. Keep up the fantastic work, girl!

  2. Great post! I don’t judge you for your food choices at all. 🙂 If anything they make me feel better, I’m always interested to see the carb intake of other type 1’s. This was chock full of info, thanks for sharing. I really need to be better about sodium I guess myself, I know I don’t pay enough attention to that one.

    • Yeah, no kidding! My hubby is always trying to get me to eat fresh green beans, but I like the taste of canned green beans better but I guess I’ll have to pass more on those since it’s so much sodium!!

      • I don’t like fresh green beans either. Until my sister in law introduced me to baked green beans. Coat your pan with coconut oil or whatever spray you use. Lay down your beans and then lightly drizzle oil over them and then lightly sprinkle with garlic and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees until crispy, i think maybe it was 15 minutes? I have yet to make them myself but so good! They end up with a nutty flavor.

  3. I’m confused… you say you’re allergic to milk, yet you can eat cheese? Are you sure it’s not just an intolerance? My son is allergic (swelling, hives, trouble breathing, stomach issues, etc) to anything with cow’s milk, so cheese is definitely out of the question.

    • To be honest, I don’t know haha. When I was younger I was “allergic” or so I’m told. I was also told it was fine to have a form of milk as long as it was cooked so cheese was OK? But I was told to stay away from milk and ice cream. I haven’t tried to drink milk ever (since I was always told I was allergic). I’m probably fine now but I figure that I do OK without milk or ice cream so I’m not tempted to try it.

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