Limiting My Sodium and Sugar Consumption

My August Nutrition Goal: Reduce Sodium & Sugar intake!

Mindful Nutrition Choices Reducing Sodium and Sugar Consumption  On the blog Stronglikemycoffee.com

The typical American diet has become reliant on salt and sugar for flavor.

Why? Because both are cheap and don’t amount to significant calories.

But they have MAJOR health impacts on the body.

Sodium hides in many (or most) packaged items, and it’s important to be aware of how much we consume.

  • Food is measured under the big umbrella of calories.
    • Breaking that down, we have the main “macronutrients” carbohydrates, proteins, and fat.
      • Beyond that, we have vitamins and minerals. **I’m not saying let’s start tracking our manganese and gingko biloba consumption (who has time for that?!) but I definitely stay aware of how much sodium and sugar are in processed foods before buying them.

Reducing sodium and sugar with mindful nutrition choices (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Sodium doesn’t just come from the salt in the Morton’s container with the girl and yellow umbrella or in the shaker on the dining room table. The obvious offenders like ketchup and soy sauce are loaded with NaCl. But did you ever think about HOW much salt is on your popcorn, peanuts, and chips? Hint: TOO MUCH.

Mindful Eating: Nutrition on sodium and sugar (stronglikemycoffee.com)

If you don’t already, be sure to check nutrition labels for sodium and sugar content. Sodium will have a “percentage of daily value” whereas sugar will not.

The government regulations provide a daily recommended value of no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. I wish there was a recommended guideline for grams of sugar per day, but I suppose that would be hard to measure with fruits, veggies and other natural sources.

For this month, I will be monitoring my sodium and staying within the 2,300mg/day limit. For sugar, I am trying not to exceed 35 grams per day from packaged items.

I will never NEVER limit fruit intake for calorie/sugar purposes, and veggies are basically the best thing ever to put into your body. So no need to worry about those :) Natural sugar is A-OK and we are more concerned with processed chemicals like good ole’ High Fructose Corn Syrup, corn syrup solids, fructose, glucose, etc.

Reading packaging labels for salt and sugar nutrition (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Salt is virtually calorie-less. So no, flavoring your veggies and pasta with salt won’t add any huge calorie impact. However sodium content DOES play a huge role in our body functions and weight.

Internally: according to health.gov, consuming excess sodium increases blood pressure which puts you at risk for a whole slew of heart problems.

Externally: Salt makes you BLOAT. The NaCl wants to hold onto water. More salt = more water. Water weight is not “fat” and won’t appear as cellulite, but it does show up on the scale and when you try to button your jeans.

Sugar has ALL KINDS of nasty effects.

Sugar contributes to cavities, blood sugar spikes and drops, insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity.

Learning to reduce salt & sugar:

Spring roll veggies

First step: put the salt shaker down! We literally only have a pepper shaker in my family’s kitchen. Adding salt to foods really packs on the sodium micrograms and overpowers the flavors of fruits, veggies, proteins, and grains. When it comes to cutting table salt, I say go cold turkey. Let yourself taste all of the food’s natural flavors with herbs and spices. Then when salt is reintroduced to your recipes, you will be able to notice the difference. You might not even like the saltiness anymore.

As far as sugar is concerned, it starts in the grocery store. Reading nutrition labels before throwing products in the basket is the best thing you can do to keep from sabotaging your own healthy efforts. Finding low-sugar alternatives to items like salad dressing, pasta sauce, cereal, peanut butter and yogurt will all depend on the choices you make when shopping!

I also think it is better to just eliminate excess sugar completely instead of substituting with a sugar-free aspartame-based sweetener (though I will on occasion, like with skinny lattes). Also try trading sugar and sweeteners with stevia. It’s a plant extract, and has been minimally processed in the raw form. I use it baking! Experiment with recipes and find healthy alternatives that use applesauce, bananas, squash and cinnamon as sweeteners.

Kabob collage*The anti-salt: cucumbers and lemon. That would make a pretty infused water! I’ll be sipping on tea with lemon slices and munching on afternoon cucumber slices :)

 

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About Stronglikemycoffee

College student-athlete committed to living healthy and happy. I want to share my recipes, fitness tips and silly stories with YOU! There's nothing like crushing goals and becoming stronger than you ever knew you could be.

Posted on July 30, 2014, in Dining Out, Fitness, Healthy Habits, Real Life Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. What is the difference between sugar in fruit and regular table sugar? Just curious… love your blog! Thanks!

    • Good question! There is a difference in the sugars from fruit and granulated sugar and high fructose corn syrup: fruit is a 100% natural product that balances sugar with fiber. Granulated and other forms of sugar are processed, chemically engineered, and digested differently than fruits. If you want to get scientifical:
      Sugar = sucrose (a compound of equal parts fructose and glucose)
      HFCS = chemically engineered compound of unequal parts glucose and fructose extracted from corn stalks. The ratio of glucose to fructose is absorbed even quicker into the blood stream, putting more stress on the liver and intestinal lining. Yes, Cane sugar is “natural” but (just like anything) too much is a bad thing. Too much sugar causes unnatural spikes in blood sugar, insulin resistence, diabetes and more. Sugar in fruit is accompanied my tons of fiber which slows the digestive process, absorbs more slowly in the body and does not cause such drastic blood sugar effects.

  2. Hi! First off just wanted to say that I love your blog! It’s really helped me with my health and fitness over the past couple weeks.
    I have a question about keeping up with a healthy diet in college. It’s required for us to have an 18-meals-a-week meal plan at my school freshman and sophomore year, and I was wondering how to make the best choices in the cafeteria. I have found things that I thought to be healthy were actually processed nasty disguised as “all natural” or “gluten free”. I have to eat gluten free due to an allergy, so how do I eat healthy in the cafeteria? Thanks!

    • Awesome and thanks for the question! I had the SAME meal plan my freshman year of college. We had all-you-can-eat dining halls as well as about 20 fast food restaurants, and we never wanted our meals to go to “waste.” However, the main idea to get in your head when making a plate in a dining hall is to abandon the thought process of “I have to get my money’s worth!” at a buffet. Continue to eat the same amounts you would if you weren’t in a buffet situation.
      Secondly, considering your gluten allergy, I would suggest making a large plate at the salad bar first to give your body lots of colorful veggies and vitamins. Now that you aren’t starving, take another glance around the caf. You’re likely to serve smaller portions or choose healthier options if you aren’t working on an empty stomach. :) I always liked to make a fruit parfait with yogurt, and top it with a gluten-free cereal like Rice Chex if your cafeteria offers that.
      It’s also a good idea to set a limit for yourself at the dessert table. I know for me, having access to soft-serve ice cream, peanut butter cookies and chocolate-frosted cake on a daily basis was nothing like home. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to eat it. At least not every day. Maybe set yourself a twice-a-week treat limit.
      Hope this helps a little! :)

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