Thursday, April 21, 2011

Random update...

This week I've started seriously tracking grams of sodium. It took me a few weeks of just looking at labels and trying to figure out where it was hiding before I could really take the bull by the horns.

I've realized some interesting things. Breads have a lot of sodium, honestly I was sketched out by white bread before, this sodium thing is probably going to put me over the edge to eliminating all bread. Plain, uncured meats aren't nearly as sodium filled as I thought, but no matter how much you rinse it, a brined chicken retains a LOT of sodium. There have been some good discoveries though. Corn tortillas have a miniscule fraction of the sodium in flour tortillas. And fresh mozzarella has far less sodium than other cheeses, and can even be used to stretch a little bit of high sodium cheese in gratins, casseroles or quesadillas.

I don't talk about my work too much here, but I got sucked into a project that is actually relevant. I work in health behavior research, mostly on drug abuse issues. But because of my technical skills in survey development, I've been recently working on some nutrition research for a diabetes project. As part of this project, I've been hunkered down with the nutritional information for several fast food & chain restaurants. Sodium is not the focus of the research, but I've been scanning that part of the menu for my own interest. HOLY COW there is a LOT of sodium in restaurant foods. I knew that in the back of my mind, but looking closely at the numbers, it's astonishing. Right now I have a target sodium intake of 1200mg, many items on the Denny's menu are DOUBLE that amount. Even some of the items on the children & seniors menus have OVER 1000mg of sodium, just for ONE meal of the day!!! That is astonishing! Fundamentally, I don't want to restrict my son's sodium intake because he's healthy and active and growing well... but I also don't want to feed him junk that's been artificially pumped up with WAY more sodium than he needs. At McDonald's a basic 6 piece Chicken McNugget Happy Meal with the fries & ketchup has 870mg! The chocolate chip pancake kids meal at Dennys has a whopping 1160mg of sodium! That's crazy.

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