Wednesday, May 12, 2010

#101 Swollen and Puffy

I don't know about you, but when I eat a slice or two of pizza, my digits [all 20] swell. Couple that pizza with some red wine, and you can add puffy eyelids and swollen ankles. And pizza isn't even the worst culprit. My little nuclear family loves ethnic foods, and along with their wonderful spices and flavors, comes a salt quantity that my body parts can measure by the crystal. If I know that I'm wearing a tennis skirt, shorts or having to show my lower legs the next day, I either pass on any unknown foods, or drink so much water that I'm visiting every potty I pass for the next 12 hours. After many a party, I've come home and removed my little sausages from the shoes, sandals or boots that had felt wonderful at the beginning of the evening. And let me just add this little [personal] fact - salt induced puffiness has only gotten worse with age. I'm worried. If it's like this now at 48, what can I expect at 58? 68?

Tackling the salt problem doesn't seem to be my problem alone [not that I really thought it was]. I was listening to NPR a few weeks ago and they were talking about grocery manufacturers reducing the amount of salt that they add to their foods. The person being interviewed said that these companies are doing it willingly, but that for a lot of people, these reduced salt foods taste bland, and for the companies, they are not big sellers. I, for one, only buy reduced sodium soups. If someone finds the taste bland, someone can add salt at the table.

I didn't grow up using a lot of salt, and it wasn't a big addition to the foods I was given as a child. On the other hand, my husband and kids find that many of the dishes I cook [ok, almost everything] are bland. Sometimes they add salt without even tasting first. I've seen this phenomena in restaurants too, adding salt before the meal is tasted. Knowing how my ankles and feet respond to most restaurant foods, I can tell you that there is already sufficient sodium added in the kitchen. In addition, frozen packaged "meals" will not be found in my freezer, nor many other prepared kinds of foods solely because of the salt content.

Recently, I read an article in a nutrition magazine that said that the World Health Organization and the National Academy of Sciences have recommended that we reduce our sodium consumption in the United States. Interestingly, one of the major reasons the US is moving towards salt reduction in foods is because of the British government. They are on quest to reduce sodium induced medical problems, and have asked food manufacturers to slash the amount of salt being added to their foods. Companies like McDonalds, General Mills, and Kraft have jumped on the bandwagon. Last November, the FDA held a public hearing recommending that salt levels be regulated by the government. Not surprisingly, there was no standing ovation. The companies, instead, pushed for voluntary measures.

What this means is that we can't wait for "someone" else to take care of us. Like removing hydrogenated oils and trans fats from our diets and kitchen cabinets, we need to take the reins with salt too. The recommended daily intake of sodium is about 2400 milligrams. That's about a teaspoon size. Even if you are not bothered by salt, I recommend that you take a look at the amount of sodium in your next microwaved dinner, restaurant meal, and morning cereal. You will be greatly surprised.

Below are some foods [picked at random] and their sodium content -

Beets - 40 mg sodium per 1/2 cup, boiled
Celery - 50 mg sodium per 1/2 cup, raw
Spinach - 65 mg sodium per 1/2 cup, boiled
Kelp - 65 mg sodium per 1/2 cup, raw
Swiss Chard - 160 mg sodium per 1/2 cup, boiled
Oysters - 190 mg sodium per 3 ounces, steamed
Shrimp - 195 mg sodium per 3 ounces, steamed
Lean cuisine balsamic glazed chicken - 890 mg per serving
Amys roasted veggie pizza - 490 mg per 4 ounces serving
Milano cookies - 65 mg per 2 cookies serving
Egg McMuffin - 820 mg per single serving
Hamburger with chees - 100 mg per 4 ounce serving [made at home]
Chilis Hamburger with cheese - 1300 mg 6 ounce serving
Boca Burger - 260 mg per single serving
Chocolate chip cookie from Subway - 150 mg per cookie

Quote of the Day: “If you want to learn, teach. If you need inspiration, inspire others. If you’re sad, cheer someone up.” Leo, Zen Habits


Lionell said...


I came across your blog the other day. I am fascinated by the wealth of information in your blog. At one time Marc mentioned to me that he was considering opening a spa. I can see from your lifetime experiences that you would be the perfect partner to work with.

watchyourtrainer said...

I would bet not many people know about what kind of salt they are using... the one that most food manufacturers use is the bad one. I have noticed that more and more products are now containing sea salt which is a better alternative. I do agree that there is entirely too much salt in food these days. I tell my clients to stay away from eating out primarily because you don't know what is being put into your food.We have become a nation that doesn't like to cook, but we love to consume and when you do you fall on the mercy of manufacturers whose main objective is to get you hooked on their unhealthy food.

Robin said...

Oddly, I have very recently become sensitive to salt. Maybe because I'm 40 now or maybe because my body has had enough and is letting me know, but either way I find I don't like a lot of salt in my food.

Lately I can feel the effects of it, not as bloating but as extreme thirst. It's very strange to me to suddenly be turned off of foods I would otherwise have enjoyed.

And, in case you weren't aware, food manufacturers have found the Bliss Point of fast food. It's a combination of sugar, fat and salt that hits the reward center of the brain causing people to crave more and more of it. The book "The End Of Overeating" by Dr. Kessler addresses it further, if you're interested.

Jeanie said...

Really good information, Bobbie and a great reminder about how much hidden sodium there is in so many foods. I love your quote at the end. It reminds me of the less elegant but very true Zig Zigler quote..."you can get everything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want". said...

Ahh salt...yes, how many times it is a bone of contention at my dinner table. My 89 mother in law always, ALWAYS throws a bucket of salt at my food BEFORE she's even tasted it. I've just learned to sit down after she's done it, so I don't see it. I just don't cook with it, and we're used to food that way, so when we get something with salt in it, the food tastes strange to us. There's so much salt in everything else (that I don't cook myself) that I just don't need to put it in my own food. The 89 year old can still run rings round me at 42 though, so who's right? (And she boils vegetables until they turn grey....!) Great blog Bobbie, keep up the hard (good) work!