I spent a few hours the other evening participating in a diabetes webinar. One of the things I found out is that the guideline for recommended daily sodium intake is in the process of changing. The Canada Food Guide folks are hoping the Canadian government will soon be on the bandwagon in making sure that the nutrition value labels on our foods are updated to reflect these new and seemingly impossible to adhere to standards.
According to the presenter on our webinar the new daily standard is going to be lowered to 1500mg sodium per day! That is a big drop, a necessary drop and one that is going to either be ignored completely or else stand the food production companies on their heads!!
For the sake of our health I hope this news of a lower standard is true. On the other hand, in our culture and with our accepted diets it is going to be a big shock trying to return to more fresh foods, purchase less prepared foods and slash most restaurant meals from our entertainment budgets. When I had dinner out the other night, despite my best efforts, I am guessing I consumed nearly 1500 mg of sodium in that meal alone. It was that salty.
So, I have decided to start keeping a personal sodium journal. I will record the number of mg of sodium in everything I eat that is labelled with a daily nutritional value label.
I all ready know cheese is going to be one of my worst offenders, my biggest downfall. The cheese I love most may be only 17% MF, but it still contains a tremendous amount of sodium. I haven't been able to purchase whole wheat crackers that are sodium free and there are often over 150mg of sodium in one slice of whole wheat bread! There are 5mg of sodium in my 100g container of fruit yogurt that comprises my luncheon dessert each day.
I have never been a fan of prepared tomato sauces like salsas and spaghetti sauces but I have been sneaking a heaping tablespoon of them here and there for a bit of variety at meals. No more!! I can get sodium free tomato sauce at my local Coop grocery and will continue to make my own sauces and salsas once my supply of fresh frozen tomatoes in the freezer is used up. I have been purchasing lower sodium tinned tuna on occasion but will now cut back on that as well and cook more fresh frozen fish. Oh how I wish I lived out on the coast and could eat fish, REAL fish, far more often.
Since my diagnosis 4 months ago I have rid myself of the craving for refined sugars, basically eliminating most of them from my diet. Now comes the really difficult task of purging my sodium cravings from my head and body. I have been doing my own cooking most days for the past 4 months with a restaurant meal about once every 2 weeks. I suspect that if I can cut out as much sodium as I want to cut from my diet, the restaurant meals will become as unbearable to eat due to excess salt as desserts are for me now with all their sugary sweetness.
I will purchase a new journal tomorrow and start entering my sodium intake on April 1. Cutting out so much sodium is going to call for far more creativity on my part in the wonderful world of food.
It will be worth the effort. In the last 4 months I have all ready seen a huge drop in my blood pressure just from staying clear of fast foods and the processed foods I used to always have on hand for busy days when I had no time to cook properly.
At the time of my diagnosis my BP was peaking under stress at 151/87. Now when I am stressed it is peaking at 125/76. If I can gain control of my "white coat syndrome" when I go for testing at the clinic I hope my readings will be closer to what they are when I test at times I am relaxed: somewhere between 106/62 and 118/71. My highest BP as a diabetic should not be higher than 130/80, which it was the last time I was at the clinic listening to the intern inform me that if I react negatively to acers then the doctor could shunt my kidneys. (At least she made her point as I have not forgotten one terrifying word that came out of her mouth!!)
So now I have a new project to amuse myself with: keeping a sodium intake journal. No doubt I am going to learn a tremendous amount about my diet and my body's reactions to reduced saltiness in my food. One of the needs listed for diabetics is a calculator and using it to calculate sodium percentages is one of many good uses for it in the hands of a diabetic.