Good day, I hope you all have had a fantastic weekend.  For any of you on the West Coast (like myself), I hope you and your families are safe from the devastating wild fires. 

For this week's challenge we are going to focus on a small piece of nutrition....SODIUM! 

Sure, sodium is a necessary mineral that helps your body function properly, but if you’re regularly overdoing it, even just a little, on the sodium you aren’t doing yourself any favors. A high-salt diet has been linked with hypertension, heart disease, and stroke

So your challenge this week is to cut back on your sodium intake. 

The first step to keeping your sodium in check is finding out how much you're actually consuming. Now, you don’t have to track it down every single miligram - but getting a general idea of what you’re consuming regularly is a good start. Basically, let’s start with anything you eat that has a nutrition label. 

Keep in mind that the % Daily Value on the nutrition label is based on a daily limit of 2,400 mg of sodium (which is more than the USDA and the AHA actually recommend - yikes). So you're better off keeping track of the actual milligrams of sodium you're consuming instead. And don't forget, some not-so-salty foods are packing sodium—even cereals and bread. It won’t take you long to realize that sodium is everywhere. 

Once you’ve got a general idea of what you’re typically consuming, here are some things you can do to start cutting back: 

  1. Start slowly. Go easy, or pass entirely on  processed foods and stick to whole foods instead. Some great replacements include: 

  • Swapping bread or a bun for lettuce

  • Using veggies instead of chips 

  • Choose low-sodium options - there are lots of culprits in packaged foods. Nuts, lunch meat, and cereal are common, high-sodium staples. 

  1. Beware of condiments. Condiments are harboring way more sodium than you think. If you can, always dress your burgers and salads yourself. Ask for your condiments, “on the side” so you can control how much you’re having. Some great, low-sodium condiment options include: 

  • Balsamic Vinegar 

  • Lemon juice

  • Olive oil 

  • Low-sodium, light mayonnaise 

  • Or even better, make and bring your own! 

  1. Check your labels. Let’s face it, nutrition labels might as well be in another language. Not only are they hard to read - you’ll find sodium in just about everything (it’s often used as a preservative). So here are the basics when it comes to sodium:

  • Sodium-free = less than 5 mg of salt per serving 

  • Very low sodium = less than 35 mg per serving 

  • Low sodium = less than 140 mg 

  • Reduced sodium = 25 percent less sodium than in the regular version of the product 

Usually if something is low in sodium, it’s high in something else so keep checking those labels - even if they are hard to decipher. 

Homemade is best. If you can, make it from scratch. We’ve got some great recipes for homemade condiments including: 

Homemade ketchup 

Salad dressing

Avocado dip 

Tomato sauce

Basil Pesto

And BBQ sauce!

Let us know how you plan to cut down on your sodium intake this week! 

~Coach Pam