A glass of milk, a pickle, and a few slices of block cheese will certainly do the trick!
Without giving it a second thought, that little snack just cost you 45% of your daily sodium intake.
Faster Isn’t Always Better
Having a wife that worked at a grocery store for numerous years, and being an avid people-watcher myself, I am often AMAZED when I glance at grocery carts at our local store.
I’d estimate that 50% of the time you’ll see canned food, boxed dinners, bags of chips, and cases/bottles of sodas lining most peoples’ carts.
While I’ve thought a lot about our personal shopping and eating behaviors, I haven’t been able to figure out why so many people eat the way they do: (1) do we just not care what we’re doing to our bodies or (2) are we just too uneducated to understand the impact our decisions have on our well-being?
Better yet, maybe a third scenario fits the best: maybe we just don’t care?
Knowledge is Power
As with all things, educating, understanding, and having knowledge about the things we eat generally will determine what you put into your body. Like I tell my clients: financial knowledge has a direct correlation with financial behavior and this concept proves true throughout other aspects of our lives and diet is certainly among them.
After finding out that my wife had border-line high blood pressure at the age of 27, and discovering that I sported rather high levels of cholesterol, we started to get serious about the things we were putting into our body. The news of our health definitely was a shock because we aren’t overweight and I feel most people would consider us “healthy” based on outward appearance.
After reading books, blogs, magazines, and paying attention to the nutrition labels found on the foods we were buying, we quickly became horrified at what we found.
After taking some time to reflect I find it ironic that our poor health status came about very similarly to how my financial downfall originated: I didn’t educate myself or think on my own; I simply followed what the masses did, accepted it as “the norm” and figured it was the right way to do things.
Our Fight Against Ignorance
While eating healthy and planning a menu accordingly isn’t an easy task, we’ve realized that a little effort and a few extra expenses now could likely save us thousands of dollars and a life of misery in the long-run.
On my blog I recently announced The China Study Diet & Fitness Challenge that my wife and I are undergoing. It involves eliminating animal-based products from our diet and eating things that are primarily plant-based: beans, fruits, vegetables, grains, etc.
Although this major lifestyle change may not suite everybody, we’ve found that making small changes helps us to accomplish a larger end-goal. While we didn’t jump into the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle overnight, we have taken steps over the last year that have led to this point.
One of the first steps we took was making a conscious effort to reduce our daily sodium intake, and this first step could be a great place for you to start. Not only will you feel better, but it could help reduce your blood pressure and pay large dividends down the road.
Reducing Our Sodium Intake
Avoid processed foods.
A majority of the foods that contain highly concentrated levels of sodium are ones that have been boxed and prepackaged.
TV dinners, pizzas, bags of chips, and deli meat are doused with high levels of sodium. Instead of opting for these easy meals, we started by designating a 3 nights each week as a “real meal” night. These “real meals” had to contain fresh ingredients and we’d pay careful attention to the sodium levels of all of the ingredients.
Buy “no salt added” canned goods.
While you may not be able to buy everything fresh, be wary of the canned goods that you buy. Things like tomato sauce, soup, and various beans have TONS of sodium.
Instead of buying cans of garbanzo, black, or red beans that contain 50% of the suggested daily sodium intake, we’ve opted for the “no salt added” cans. While it may take a little taste away, it’s worth the sacrifice when you consider your overall health.
Be smart when you eat out
Eating out, whether fast food or high-end restaurants, was certainly a culprit in elevating our blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If you’re eating out on a daily basis, it’s likely that you’re getting 100% of your daily sodium in a single meal!
Always ask for the nutrition guide when you visit your favorite sit-down restaurant. You may be shocked what you see.
For many months we were lucky to see the inside of a restaurant once or twice. These days, if we eat out we opt for the salad and make them serve the dressing in a side cup (dressings are FILLED with salt).
Cook, Cook, Cook
While all of our daily schedules are filled to the max, one must take time to evaluate what’s most important. While I acknowledge that making home-cooked meals take additional time, it will pay dividends in the long-term.
Each Sunday my wife and I sit down and plan our weekly menu. After the menu is set, we go grocery shopping and return home to prepare everything we can for the week. We’ll rinse all of the fruits and vegetables and cut up everything that we can.
Sure, it may take a few hours but this small sacrifice allows us to prepare great meals every evening; even if we’re in a rush.
Have you taken any time to really understand what you’re putting in your body? What steps are you taking to eat healthy and counteract the long-term effects that a poor diet promises?
Guest Post Author Bio: Jason is a financial advisor and Dave Ramsey-trained counselor that blogs over at WorkSaveLive. He shares his family’s journey out of debt, a myriad of financial knowledge, and great weekly recipes.