Wednesday, February 8, 2012

An overdose of salt plagues the American diet

We all should know by now that Americans eat way too much salt, especially from all the processed foods we consume daily. But a new CDC study, released on Tuesday, spells out just how much salt we really are consuming. And the numbers are enough to make you shun your salt shaker for good!

That's because a whopping 90 percent of us are consuming more than the recommended amount.

According to the CDC, the average daily intake of sodium is about 3,300 mg per day, almost 50 percent more than the U.S. Dietary Guidelines of  2,300 mg (about one teaspoon) -- and more than double the recommended limit of 1,500 mg for about 60 percent of us who suffer from things like diabetes and high blood pressure.

The study also listed the top 10 "offenders" in contributing to our sodium overdose. More than 40 percent of the salt in our diet comes from these 10 types of foods, in order: breads and rolls; cold cuts and cured meats such as deli or packaged ham or turkey; pizza; fresh and processed poultry; soups; sandwiches such as cheeseburgers; cheese; pasta dishes; meat mixed dishes such as meat loaf with tomato sauce; and snacks such as chips, pretzels, and popcorn.

Surprised to see bread atop the list instead of salty snacks? Well, the CDC explains that many types of bread can contain 200 or more mg of sodium. (For instance, two products in my pantry are Thomas plain English muffins, at 220 mg per muffin, and Walmart's Marketside multigrain loaf, 220 mg per slice.) Doesn't seem like much, until you consider that many people have several servings in their daily diet -- so it can add up fast.

The CDC notes that reducing our sodium by an average of 1,200 mg per day could save up to $20 billion a year in medical costs.  "People can choose how much salt to add to their food at the table. They can't take it out once it's there," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden told the Associated Press.

So, what proactive steps can be taken? 

First and most important: Limit high-sodium foods!  When shopping, read the nutrition labels
to find the lowest sodium options of your favorite foods. Amounts can vary widely. For instance, canned soups can range from about 200 mg per serving to almost 1,000! Or, three ounces of luncheon meat has between 450 and 1,050 mg.

Other CDC recommendations include:

  • Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and frozen fruits and vegetables without sauce.
  • When eating out, request lower sodium options.
  • Support initiatives that reduce sodium in foods in cafeterias and vending machines.
 Oh, and here's one more: Shun that shaker!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ten things I like about Tom

All dressed up: Tom and I, out on the town.
All good things come to those who wait ...

After years of striking out in the love department, this time -- maybe -- I have found the right one! Of course, I have thought that in the first blush of past relationships (witness my blog post of Aug. 9, 2011), only to have the relationship end after it became apparent that we were not really suited.

But well, this time just feels different somehow. I actually me Tom a couple of years ago, when he attended a party I hosted for a mutual friend of ours, Alicia. But he was dating someone at the time, so that was that. Fast forward to early 2012, when he asked Alicia for my phone number and promptly called me. From our first phone conversastion -- which lasted almost two hours and could have gone on who-knows-how-long -- we were simpatico, in sync, on the same wavelength, etc. etc.
Here, in no particular order, are 10 things I find so great about Tom:
  • He is patient.
  • He is thoughtful and kind.
  • He is sexy and loving.
  • He is communicative.
  • He is ambitious.
  • He is very intelligent.
  • He is a compromiser.
  • He is a planner.
  • He is funny and fun to be with.
  • He really digs ME!
So, there you have it. As I write this, I am thinking of him and the next time I will see him.
Can't wait ...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The right plate to lose weight

Pile it on: A white plate and mostly whitish food
is a bad combination for portion control.
On a diet or weight maintenance plan? Here's a simple strategy that I ran across, as reported in Scientific America, to help control your portion sizes: Choose your plate color according to what's in the meal.

A study found that people tend to pile more food on their plates when the food color and the plate color are similar. So, for instance, if you're eating spaghetti in marinara sauce, stay away from a red plate! And if it's in alfredo, choose any dinnerware other than white.

This makes sense, if you think about it. It's much easier not to "see" how much food is actually on the plate when it blends into the background, whereas a starker contrast would act as a better visual signal of portion size.

Of course, many of us don't have a plethora of plates in our pantry -- meaning we can't easily adjust the dinnerware color to the meal content. However, it's good to keep this study in mind when dishing out servings, no matter what color you're dishing them on!

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