This weekend my husband and I went on a date. Finally!
Between being busy with travel, moving, organizing a new home, and figuring out all the baby gear we need, we have not had a proper date in a while. We actually planned a fun dinner at a new restaurant in town. We love experiencing new places so this was a perfect date night for us.
Though we had a great night, we both felt like we consumed an entire shaker of salt with our meal. I even chose a pretty healthy option: a green salad with roasted chicken on top. Unfortunately, the kitchen must have had a heavy hand with the salt seasoning. By the end of the night my feet were swollen (I’m sure a mixture of salt and pregnancy) and he was downing water to balance the crazy salt intake. Needless to say, we both didn’t feel great by bedtime. We were still in recover mode on Sunday.
Over the past month, some of my clients have struggled to lose weight. When we dive into potential reasons, the common denominator is they were either on vacation or traveling where they ate at restaurants for most meals. Most restaurants (from fast food to fancy ones) use sodium to flavor their dishes. And it is hard to lose weight when you are consuming a good amount of salt! Therefore, if we are eating out for most of our meals several days in a row, we may struggle with our weight loss goals.
On the other hand, one of my bachelor friends recently lost a decent amount of weight after enlisting a chef to prepare healthy meals for him for a week. He was determined to jump start weight loss and a healthy routine. Since he is a bachelor, he tends to eat out or find quick options for meals. But in spending a little more time (and money), he found that not only did he lose weight, but he did so rather quickly. One of the main reasons: he wasn’t consuming a ton of sodium.
Salt it a big deal. Especially when it comes to wanting to lose weight. The recommended amount of sodium an average person should consume in a day is 2,300 mg, YET the average person eats about 3,400 mg. That difference can be one of the culprits for several health issues:
1. Gaining weight
2. Not losing weight
3. Feeling bloated and swollen
4. Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
5. Feeling dehydrated (which can lead to overeating, therein another issue in trying to lose weight!)
Now, salt is also a big deal for good health. It is an essential mineral necessary for certain functions of the body like maintaining fluid balance, body temperature, and nerve and muscle function. It is when we consume more salt than we need when we get into trouble. And that is what is happening when you notice one of the symptoms above.
So how do you reduce your sodium intake to prevent these things from happening? Try implementing one of the following suggestions:
Switch the Seasoning
Season your food with a variety of spices instead of salt. Oregano, thyme, cumin, and chili powder can be great alternatives to salt or can help you drastically reduce the amount of salt needed in a dish.
Stock Up on Fresh
Next time you are at the grocery store, buy fresh or fresh frozen vegetables, fruits, beans or meats. Avoiding canned and packaged products will naturally help reduce the amount of sodium you eat. That deli packaged meat can be loaded with sodium!
Check the Menu
Many chain restaurants are now listing the nutrition information on menu items so check those out before ordering. If they don’t have that information listed, ask your server. They can guide you to low-sodium options as well as share with the chef to not add salt to your dish.
Choose Condiments Carefully
We all love to add soy sauce to our sushi, dressings to our salads, ketchup to our burger, and salsa to our chips. But those condiments can contain tons of salt. Choose the reduced or lower-sodium version to still enjoy those items, but without having to pay for it with swollen feet or a bloated stomach.
Potassium can help counter the effects of sodium. Adding foods like sweet potatoes, leafy greens, tomatoes, oranges, and bananas into your eating plan can help balance the sodium levels in your body.
Remember, salt is not all bad. Excess salt (like what I ate this weekend) can be. By being mindful of what you are eating and how you are preparing what you eat, you can balance your salt intake and avoid sabotaging your weight loss goals!