This is yet another post in my recent series of posts how my cholinergic urticaria went from being very severe to tremendously better (basically gone now). If you have not yet read my previous posts, then I strongly urge you to read them first so you can know exactly how this has progressed:
- My brief history of hives
- What is visceral fat?
- and My Hypothesis of visceral fat making cholinergic urticaria worse
- How to lose visceral fat
- Use Diet to eliminate visceral fat
- High Calorie Foods to Watch
- My Joyce Chen Steamer Review (My secret cookware weapon to reduce calories)
- Low Calorie Snack Ideas–some snacks to help you curb your cravings without adding too many calories.
- High Sodium Diet–How I was eating way too much sodium, and you may be too.
Note: please keep in mind that you should always talk to a doctor before changing your diet or exercise habits. These posts are only relating general information and experiences only.
High Sodium (Salt) Foods To Reduce or Monitor
- Condiments–Guess what? 2 tbsps of bbq sauce or ketchup is an average of 200-400 mg of sodium. Be careful.
- Table Salt–Again, 1 teaspoon of table salt has a whopping estimated 2,300 mg of sodium. That’s over the AHA’s recommended 1,500 mg already. So you may not want to keep throwing pinches of table salt on your meats, potatoes, soups, etc.
- Fast Foods–I eat fast food about 1 time every week (or two) at MOST. These foods are LOADED with sodium, and you really have to read the nutritional information. You can plan on essentially divorcing the fast food restaurants if you want to eat healthy, with the exception of a few times per month.
- Restaurants–Again, restaurants are likely to load down foods with butters, sauces, oils, and sodium to make it taste really good (hoping you will come back). If you want to eat low calorie and low sodium, you are going to have to limit restaurant eating significantly. Or, find a good lean restaurant that doesn’t add salt to everything (which should be a challenge).
- Canned veggies–When you buy veggies in a can, most food companies add a bunch of sodium to help preserve them. Watch Out!
- Canned Fruit–Again, many canned fruits have salt/sugar added, so read the labels and watch out.
- Processed Meats–Lunch meat, beef jerkey, pepperoni, etc have tons of sodium added in many cases. Watch out for these.
- Baked Goods/breads–As I said, most flours have 200-400 mg of sodium for only 1/4 cup. So when you bake anything at home, or buy baked goods at the store, watch out for this.
- Candy bars/candy–Any processed candy/candy bars can be high sodium, so watch out for this.
- Soft drinks–Most soft drinks have between 20-150 mg of sodium. Not a lot, but enough to monitor for your daily amount.
- Soups–Most soups, broths, etc. are LOADED with sodium. Watch out for it.
Those are some of the big meals to reduce or avoid (or at least monitor). Of course, you can have any of the above so long as you just don’t go overboard with the sodium. But try to eat a healthy sodium level. As of right now, I aim for about 800 mg- 1800 mg of sodium per day. I am really working on trying to minimize it as much as possible.
How to Season & Buy Foods Without Sodium (or Salt)
The challenge for me (once I began reducing sodium from my diet) was to season foods so that they taste good, but without adding unnecessary sodium. This was difficult at first, but I learned a couple tips that I think will help some of you. Here are ways to flavor foods with low calorie, low sodium options:
- Mrs. Dash–Whoa, this stuff is amazing, and this is by far the biggest “secret weapon” I have found to reduce sodium. Go to the spice section of your store and look at the range of spice blends by “Mrs. Dash.” This stuff tastes great, and I throw it on my salmon, chicken, veggies, and just about everything I eat that needs spicing up. They have many flavors to choose from, and it is a whopping 0 mg of sodium, and 0 calories. I’m serious, try this stuff out. I have replaced my salt shaker with this at my house, and my wife and I both love it. The way we found out about it is that my wife mentioned that they use this at her work. She is an RN and works on a cardiac floor, and they really hammer the “low sodium” thing to the patients there, and give them this stuff instead of salt.
- Lemon Juice–Lemon juice has 0 mg of sodium, 0 calories. I add some Mrs. Dash and some lemon juice (you can buy it in bottles) to my salmon, chicken, and it tastes delicious. Yum. I am getting hungry right now thinking about it.
- Vinegar— Once again vinegar has 0 mg sodium, and 0 calories. Vinegar can be added to beans, salads, and all sorts of meals for some flavor.
- Natural Spices–It is amazing how you can totally change the taste of a food by adding spices like cinnamon, oregano, etc. to it. Most of these spices have very low calories (or none), and almost no sodium. So check your spice section for garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon, etc.
- Sugar/Honey–Obviously you want to be cautious about your sugar intake too, but a small sprinkle of sugar or honey only has a few calories, and can really sweeten up a bowl of oatmeal, rice, or veggies. (Watch out giving honey to young children).
- Buy Frozen Veggies–I buy either frozen or fresh veggies at all time now. Did you know that frozen veggies are sometimes considered more rich in nutrients than the veggies sitting on the store’s shelf? Some argue that the freezing locks in the nutrients, as some break down on the shelf. I buy the majority of my veggies frozen, and then I steam them in my food steamer with my meat. Yum. This cuts down on unnecessary sodium.
- Buy Fresh or Frozen Fruit— It may seem like common sense, but it had never really dawned on me that you can buy frozen fruit. You can. Frozen pineapples, mango, berries, strawberries, bananas, etc. I have been doing this much more often (and even freezing my own). This has saved me a ton of money, and it is delicious. Especially for making smoothies and shakes. (I’ll post some tasty recipes).
- Buy Frozen Meats–If you eat meat (like me), then try to buy frozen chicken, turkey, and fish as opposed to processed or canned meat. It will have much less sodium, and probably taste a lot better too. Throw them in a steamer with some veggies for a tasty and healthy lunch.
- Buy “low sodium” items–If you have a craving for some chips or some snack food, try to find a package with “low sodium” on it. I eat veggie chips, and I found a brand that had about half of the sodium as the brand I was eating prior. This was a simple way to cut the sodium down even more. Also, many broths and soups offer a “low sodium” option if you have to use them for a recipe.
- Buy Items Unprocessed vs Processed-If you can, opt for the foods prepared with the least amount of processing. For example, if you buy minute rice, it likely has sodium added to it. But if you buy plain bagged rice, it has 0 sodium. Likewise, if you buy the pre-packaged oatmeal packets, it often has sodium. If you buy the plain oatmeal, it has 0 sodium. Get oatmeal plain, and then sprinkle some frozen fruit, cinnamon, and bam–a tasty low calorie, low sodium, healthy breakfast or snack food.
I hope this list helps you cut down on any excess sodium you may be eating above your own personal nutritional requirements. It has helped me tremendously. I feel much better too. Sodium also adds water weight to your body, and makes you feel tired and thirsty.
My wife went out to eat with her mother recently, and she came back tired and thirsty all day from the sodium. She ate at Olive Garden and got their “soup, salad, and bread stick” special. She ate around 1,400 calories for this one meal alone (almost her daily goal), and the sodium was very high too. As a result, she felt bad all day.
I don’t have anything against restaurants, and it can be a great treat sometimes. But I have found that if you want to eat healthy, you really have to read labels, and cut out most processed foods, fast food places, and restaurants. I will try to post some great meals that are quick and easy (even if you hate cooking or don’t know what you’re doing). I know almost nothing about cooking, yet the meals I throw together taste great.
I have also saved a ton of money. My grocery bill was about $100-120 each week for just me and my wife for a long time. Well, in my new diet I am only spending about $50-65 per week for both of us, and we feel fantastic. We are eating all we want, losing weight, and its awesome. My hives are still doing excellent. I am just choosing lower calorie, lower sodium options, and cooking up a lot of things in my steamer (or using one of my other tools). It is amazing.
Stay Tuned…The Saga Continues
I am not done with this saga yet. I am going to write a few more posts on nutrition and share some recipes and some of my sample meal plans, and then I will go into the exercise portion of this series (with many posts for that).
This is all I can get out today, but I will try to get more out during the week. I may miss a day or two, but I will catch up at some point. I want to finish this series so any information may help some of you.
Next Post: My Summary on Diet