worth my salt…

I’m starting Michael Thurmond’s Six Week Body Makeover today… I’ve heard great things about it and wanted to do something to jolt my weight loss efforts.  A friend of mine swears by the program and assures me that you do get used to the eating plan and the workouts are actually easier than the ones I usually do myself.

According to the plan, I’m supposed to eat small meals, five times a day.  Only turkey, chicken, or lean fish most of the time with red meat being a “treat”.  No dairy, no sugar, no oils, and low-low-low sodium.  Okay, owww.  That last one really hurts.  I loooove salt… it’s a wonder my blood-pressure isn’t through the roof from my salt-habit alone.  Friends and family have often made pained faces at the amount of salt I use, but I’ve never really given it much thought before.  That is – until I had to go grocery shopping for my eating plan yesterday. 

It is amazing how much sodium is in everything!  I was looking for lean turkey lunch meat that I could use for some of my quick snacks and even the “Reduced Sodium” options were insane!  The regular Hillshire Farms smoked or oven roasted turkey is 460mg of Sodium for a 2 ounce serving (19% of your daily sodium allowance!).  The “Reduced” version is 420mg of Sodium for the same serving size.  That’s STILL 18% of your daily sodium allowance – in a few pieces of lunch meat!  And those are among the better options!  Oh, and don’t get me started on chicken broth… even the lower sodium version makes me cringe.  Yikes!  Erik and I spent a morbidly curious hour or so just checking out the sodium content on the foods we normally eat and it was a major eye-opener!

This morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about the salt thing, so I started poking around online medical research to see how significantly sodium affects your weight-loss efforts and your overall health. 

First, I found that it’s not all evil… our bodies actually need sodium for several reasons (maintaining proper fluids balance in our tissues and helping nerve, muscle, and blood function).  The FDA recommends between 500 and 2,400mg per day (unless otherwise directed by a physician). 

Second, I found that sodium most commonly causes water retention (which ends up being a few extra pounds on the scale and some bloating that can keep you out of your favorite jeans), but that water retention slows your metabolism and could eventually lead to metabolic syndrome through high blood pressure.

So we’re talking a balance here… no need to completely eliminate sodium (which would be virtually impossible anyway), but I certainly need to greatly reduce my salt-habit.  The awesome thing about that is that when you focus on reducing sodium, you are forced towards fresh whole foods and away from the processed stuff in boxes and cans.  And that?  Is a much healthier plan anyway.

If you find any good articles regarding sodium’s impact on our health, I’d love for you to share them!

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