The easiest way to keep sodium levels down is not to read food labels. The easiest way is to avoid food with labels. Skip the processed, packaged food as much as you can and opt for whole foods.
The thing is, even if you never eat anything except whole, unprocessed, unsalted food you will still end up getting something like 600-800mg sodium per day. Foods naturally contain minerals they take up from the earth, sodium included.
Add a few condiments and perhaps a minimal amount of packaged food and you're easily at the 1500mg limit that is recommended for people who need to watch their sodium intake.
click on the full report button at the bottom of your tracker. this is going to show you a big chart with everything you ate and all the nutrients you got from each. now look at the sodium column. look for the three biggest numbers you see. first, double check that info against anything that you have in your hand. 10 may not seem like much to be off by, but if you eat twenty things in a day that are off by ten, that adds up to your sodium numbers being 200 off. also check nutritiondata.com for things that don't have labels. it is how i found out the ready to eat beans in the tracker are canned. since i was cooking my own beans from dried the tracker was adding almost ten times the amount of sodium i was actually getting. once you have found your three biggest numbers, it's time to do one of three things. the first is to simply eat less of the food. if a cup of something has 1000 sodium in it, eating 3/4 of a cup is going to cut out 250 sodium. the second is on your next trip to the store, start comparing the label of what you usually buy with the other brands out there. you may be able to find another brand that has lower sodium and that is an easy switch to make. making your own is another option. some salsas can run as high as 1000 sodium a serving. if you buy fresh salsa instead, you can find some for 100 a serving. if you make your own, well, tomatoes, peppers, and onions don't have that much sodium in them. and all you need to do is chop them up and let them sit. the third is where it gets more complicated. that's where you cut out the high sodium food entirely and replace it with something entirely different. it might be replacing your deli meat sandwiches for lunch with a pbj. this is where you want to come to the boards and post a specific problem [ie. "i love bacon and usually have it for breakfast, but it's driving my sodium through the roof. i usually have it with an omelet and juice. what can i replace the bacon with to help get my sodium numbers down"] to get targeted help.
and i'm suggesting to only work on the three biggest for a few reasons. the largest numbers mean that you can make small changes and see the biggest difference for making the smallest changes. i find three things a reasonable number to look at alternatives in the grocery store. it's only going to add maybe ten minutes reading labels, and since i don't have an extra day where i can spend all of it reading the labels of everything i buy and their competition, it's a quick and easy way to get there. and again, by picking the biggest numbers, it's going to maximize your efforts.
I'm consistently going over my sodium allowance too! How do we share our trackers?
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Cook your food yourself and you control the sodium.
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You and me both, hun. Sodium is the one place I struggle above all else. i've gotten it down a lot, but I'm still way over normal.
Since you don't have your food trackers shared, I can't really give you any specific advice; it's hard to say what changes you can make since I don't know what you're doing. :) Consider sharing your food tracker, and we can make specific recommendations.
GEnerally, though, to reduce sodium, you aim for eliminating processed foods and adding more whole foods. If you eat prepackaged stuff, especially frozen meals and canned goods, they're usually loaded with sodium. Fast food and restaurants also tend to be loaded with sodium. Making food at home will let you control what goes in it!
Heather Writer, mother, wife, and breadwinner. I love to run, but running doesn't love me, so I'm switching to my low-impact bike.
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