Have a great day - eat something healthy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Putting a Halt to Salt

I admit it, I’m a salt junkie. And snob. I have at least four different kinds of designer salts in my pantry and I use them all – liberally. But I know that cutting back on salt can limit cardiovascular disease and reduce bloating so it's time to make a change. 

Up until now I haven't been concerened about my salt intake - my blood pressure is super low so I always thought I was safe from the effects of salt. But it seems I'm always battling a couple of stubborn pounds that won't go away for good. And I just learned that my salty savories are probably to blame. Here's why:

When I get a craving for something salty I go for potato chips or other starchy foods starchy like crackers or pasta with oil, garlic and salt. And guess what? They’re high glycemic load foods (see yesterday's post). That means that chips and crackers and pasta are double whammy foods – they’re salty so I get bloated when I eat them; and once they’re in my system they turn into sugar and make me fat!

So even though I think I’m craving something salty because my crave faves are refined carbs, they're really masking the true craving that lies beneath the surface – sugar! Salt is my gateway for sugar cravings – crazy, huh?!

Now that I know better, I’m keeping the designer salts in the pantry, taking the salt off the table, and staying away from the chip aisle and all those starchy foods with high glycemic loads.

The only salt I will ingest will come from the few processed foods I eat, but that's where we have to be careful. So I'm going to check the sodium levels in all the processed foods I eat - I don’t eat many, but I will pay closer attention to their sodium content. And I'm going to heed Mayo Clinic's recommendation to keep my sodium intake at less than 1500mg per day. Check out this article from MayoClinic.com for some great tips on how and why to avoid salt and sodium.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cutting Back on Refined Carbs to Cut Back on Sugar

This week I’m stepping things up in my quest to get into my bikini by April 2nd. And there are three things I’m doing: eliminating sugar, eliminating salt, and increasing the intensity of my workouts. Today let’s look at sugar because it’s everywhere – particularly in our bloodstreams - and it's keeping us fat and unhealthy.

I’ve been learning more and more about sugar: how it undermines even the most ambitious diet plans; how it’s not only in sweets but in just about every crave-worthy starchy carb (pasta, crackers, chips, popcorn, white rice, cereal, bread, English muffins, bagels, pizza crusts); and how those coveted carbs turn into sugar once our bodies digest them.

Dr. Rob Thompson is a cardiologist who has written three books that address this issue: "The Glycemic Load Diet," "The Glycemic Load Cookbook," and "Low Starch Diabetes Solution." Glycemic load is the impact that a serving of food has on blood glucose levels. The higher the load, the worse the food.

Dr. Thompson appeared on one of my favorite radio shows, “Dishing Up Nutrition,” to explain glycemic load and its impact on our health Interview with Dr. Rob Thompson. It's worth the listen because he addresses how eliminating starchy carbs can help people reduce cholesterol, lower blood sugar, address diabetes and lose weight

According to Dr. Thompson we should elminate these three foods: flour products, potatoes and rice. This link LowGlycemicLoad.com contains a list of foods and their glycemic load score. Dr. Thompson advises to keep your daily sum of glycemic loads less than 500.

I don’t eat too many processed starchy carbs, but for the time being they’re completely off the table. Literally!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fat and Stupid - Thanks to Sugar

Fat and stupid? Well, it looks like there’s a correlation. On Saturday I was listening to a favorite radio program of mine called “Dishing Up Nutrition.” The host, Dar Kvist, a licensed nutritionist and co-founder of Nutritional Weight & Wellness, Inc., was discussing blood sugar; levels and brain health.

Before I go into what Dar and her co-host, Wendy Cates-Danser, RN, had to say, I want to address the confusion that surrounds sugar. Sugar isn’t just the granulated white or brown stuff that we find in all of our favorite sweet treats or the high fructose corn syrup that's almost ubiquitous in processed foods and beverages; sugar is also what results when our bodies attempt to metabolize processed carbohydrates. So that bowl of pasta, that potato, the popcorn, the crackers and chips that we all love to snack on turn into sugar once our bodies get a hold of them. And, as we all know but wish to forget, there’s no good that can come from having too much sugar in our systems. Here’s what Dar and Wendy had to say…

“There’s a new wisdom about the importance of blood sugar control. Control your blood sugars and you will control your weight, you will support your brain cells for regeneration and function, you’ll maintain organ and physical health, and keep your hunger in check. High blood sugars make the blood vessels hard and stiff which increases the risk of a stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure and all of these things increase the accelerated aging of your brain. High blood sugars impair memory and other cognitive functions. So we have more problems with word recall, senior moments, and focus.

“Everyone knows that we experience higher blood sugars after a bowl of cereal, juice and toast. The pancreas can overreact, producing too much insulin – then we have low blood sugars, which leads to short-term memory problems. Controlling your blood sugars is the key for brain health – to have good memory and focus.

2 cups of most dry cereal turns into 12 teaspoons of glucose or sugar in our bloodstream. And we haven’t even added the skim milk, the orange juice and the piece of toast, which brings it up to between 24 and 32 teaspoons of sugar – just for breakfast. Then we can pick up a bagel – a bagel weighs in at 57 grams of carbs. That’s 14.25 teaspoons of sugar! What about 2 pieces of pizza? In two pieces of pizza you’re eating 12 teaspoons of sugar. The average American is eating over 50 teaspoons of sugar daily. And our organs are reacting – especially our brains. Preschoolers are being diagnosed with depression.

“For us to maintain a healthy anti-aging brain we must eat in a way to keep our blood sugars in a normal range (somewhere between 70 and 100) and do it all through the day.” That means eliminating faves like cereal, bagels, popcorn, baked potatoes (sweet potatoes are fine), processed rice, cookies, French fries, potato chips and sweets. “When I look at food, [I think], ‘Do I want to keep my brain, my toes, my kidneys, my hearing, my eyesight’… one of the leading causes of cataracts is having higher blood sugars and eating too many processed carbs with too much sugar and bad fats going right back to the eyesight. So I ask myself, ‘Do I want all those diseases, or do I want that treat?’ Usually reason and reality wins out.”

Here’s an easy tip for determining the amount of sugar in a food item - when reading the nutritional information of a food,  divide the number of carbohydrates by 4 – that will result in the amount of sugars.