Ixnay on the N a

Holiday Time.
Being around extended family for a longer-than-normal amount of time.
Black Friday.
Excess of food left out at any given moment.
The bad kinds of food left out at any given moment.
Last minute work projects before holiday time.

Any and all of these things can spike up blood pressure. “It’s the Most Wonderful Time…..” -maybe. Sometimes.

Blood pressure is a sensitive subject in my household. My dear hubby of 19 years suffers from high blood pressure. A lot of debate exists when talking about whether genetics play a bigger role or if lifestyle and how you handle stress play a bigger role. Some recent findings say lifestyle plays a bigger role. I wanted to study up and see if there was anything I could do to help lower his blood pressure, but also get our family on a healthier path. Exercise was one area. We started walking 3 times a week together. What we put into our bodies was another.

Enter sodium. Dun-dun-dun-dun….

Americans get 75% of their sodium intake in processed foods. Sodium (when the amount is appropriate) plays a vital role in our health. Improved heart performance, needed for blood regulation, and glucose absorption. It is an important factor in the human diet for the regulation of cellular activity and nervous system function. You probably know what I’m going to say next. That McDonalds fries are some of the best fries on the planet?? You’ve got a gift. Sometimes you do just have to hit the drive through for the fries. Getting a small fry every 2 weeks is a treat. And a necessity. Ok, not a necessity, but there are some things you just have to enjoy.

Well, the other thing I was going to say is that with the good comes the bad. Too much sodium can lead to stomach cancer, hypertension (high blood pressure), and can even lead to coma. So, how much should one take in? All blogs tend to agree that you should take no more than

2,300mg

of sodium a day and even LESS than that if you’re over 50. Think this is a fair amount and you shouldn’t have any troubles? Think again. The table below shows a typical day for anyone – especially a busy, working mom who tends to pick up food on the go.  I have been easily guilty of this. Throw in a few medium cokes, and a grande Starbucks Latte in there…no wonder I gained 20 lbs in 2 years!

Sodium Values

How can you control this?  Will my food still be good? Is there hope!?  YES, YES, and YES
*By eating less processed foods and preparing meals ahead of time – think FRESH
*By not picking up items like frozen cheese pizzas (that have over 800mg of sodium a serving)
*By eating fresh foods like more fruits and veggies
*By purchasing items that say “Reduced Sodium” or “No Sodium”
*By reducing your salt each recipe by 1/4 tsp, or not adding even more salt when you get a meal from a restaurant. Your taste buds will get used to this and your heart will thank you for it!

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Health Tip #1

Choose smaller plates.  I do remember seeing a special on 20/20 or Dateline or another news show where they conducted a buffet type study.  In it, people were given a certain color plate.  For whatever reason, people with white plates tended to eat more food.  Again – can’t recall the exact show.  I may even have the color wrong. Point being…. there’s some Tom Foolery going on with our minds at all times.  It’s no different when it comes to food.

In the pic below, you can see clearly how big (or small) the piece of bread looks on each plate.  Obviously- feels like you’re eating more with the smaller plate.  (Bigger one is your standard, dinner size plate. Smaller one is more of a salad plate or side plate.) We also tend to try to fill up the empty real estate on bigger plates.  Unless you’re one of those really disciplined people who purposely tries to just put food in the center of the plate….to which I ask…why not just buy smaller plates then??  Ah well.  To each…

In our little family, we have replaced a lot of our bigger plates with these small plates in effort to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.  I may post a future blog on proper portion sizes, because I think this has gone on the crazy train as of late.  I don’t think people really understand what size they just ate – particularly at restaurants. Anyway, smaller plates.  That’s my first tip.

Smaller Plates