Enjoyed this blog post by a young mom in my neighborhood, Melanie Willis Wilde.
The American Heart Association recommends eating 1500 mg or less of sodium a day and 6-9 teaspoons of added sugars (24-36 grams). If you’re like me and most Americans you’re not following this. I decided to try my hardest to start “eating clean,” and this was a pretty good ruler for me. I didn’t calorie restrict, I just watched my salt and sugar. It’s an interesting challenge to see how much you normally eat and then cut it back to the recommendation.
I was shocked at the sodium levels in things like cereal, soy sauce, canned soups, chicken broth and honestly most packaged things. You can eat your entire recommended daily amount of sodium in just a couple teaspoons of soy sauce or two servings of most canned soups. Crazy!
I found myself having to get more creative, cook more from scratch, and find some new recipes. Here are some things I’ve learned and some tips.1.I checked out a few Paleo cookbooks from the library and found some great recipes and snack ideas.
2. You can add no salt or half or less than half the salt required in most recipes and it tastes the same or better. This includes soups, baked goods, salad dressings- really. really.Same with sugar. Add way less than what it calls for and be amazed at how good it still tastes.
3. Your tastebuds “reset” if you stop eating so much processed food and suddenly an apple or salad taste amazing, whereas before they don’t taste so amazing because your body thinks it wants salty sugary stuff.
4. As a general rule, I eat one salad a day. I make a batch of homemade salad dressing at the beginning of the week and use it all week long. I like to mix it up and go for more Mexican style salads, fruity nutty salads, cob type salads- lots of possibilities.
5. Corn tortillas. 10 mg of sodium compared to 150 + in flour tortillas.
6. Almond butter is delicious.
7. Coconut milk is amazing. You can make creamy soups, smoothies, curries, etc with coconut milk with no added sugars and no sodium.
8. I don’t follow this every day, all the time, and I don’t sweat it. I feel that being mindful at all and having a general guideline really helps me, but I’m not so strict that I can’t go out or have my cake and eat it too sometimes. I feel like choosing a new lifestyle is just that. It’s not a temporary diet for me, it’s how I want to live from now on. It’s not realistic for me not to have treats or salty things sometimes and when I eat with other people I can’t control what they fix, so I let it go for that meal. No big deal.
9. Meals weren’t too hard to for me to come up with, but snacks were. Nuts, fruit (fresh or dried), apples with almond butter baby carrots, snap peas, toast with “no salt” butter, homemade salsa with corn chips or corn tortillas, Lara bars, homemade beef jerky,greek yogurt (check the sugar and sodium and get the lowest you can find) with berries or a low sugar granola, seeds…
10. I discovered that adding more ginger or garlic or peppers or other fun spices are not only fun and exciting but made it so I didn’t miss salt and sugar so much. Fresh herbs are great too.
11. Lots of people are doing this and the internet is a great resource. Google “clean eating,” and you’ll see what I mean. You can find meal plans, recipes, support…it’s great.
12. I have ditched cream of _____ soups, Ramen, boxed mac and cheese, bottle spaghetti sauce and other sauces, and lots of other stuff completely. I cleaned them out of my cupboard and food storage and I haven’t looked back. I still have some questionable items, but I’ll never go back to those offenders. I don’t miss them.
13. It was not easy to start this. I got a little down thinking about the ease of processed food and I got stumped for awhile about what to eat and what to feed my kids and I ran out of ideas. I kept at it and kept looking and I feel like we’re doing pretty good and have been for about a year. It’s about progress not perfection.So, that’s kind of all I can think of. My health and energy have improved. I only had to take blood pressure meds for a couple months. Probably due in part to my postpartum period ending and my anxiety levels dropping and I think a lot because I was choosing to be more healthy. If you’re looking to make some healthy changes, I’d recommend looking at your salt and sugar intake and starting with that. Hope this helps someone somewhere have a starting point. I think if we do all in our control to be healthy it’s so empowering.There’s so much you can’t control about having a body and what it does, but giving it good fuel is something you can do.