I was standing in front of a group of 15 people in McCormick County conducting a program about Daily Sodium Intake. We were getting ready to inspect food labels on groceries.
“I have a confession to make,” I said to the group. “These are my groceries.”
“I normally go to the grocery store and buy a variety of items to show when I do this program. But I’ve travelled so much for work this week, this morning I opted out of driving to the grocery store and I opened up my cabinets and refrigerator at the house. I just collected a sack full of my own groceries. I can promise you that today we will look at real food from a real person’s house and have a real discussion about salt intake.”
In an instant, the mood in the room became very relaxed and conversational. The group knew I had just been as honest with them as I knew how to be. We went on to learn about hidden salt, how to determine what foods are high in sodium, and how to make dietary adjustments to lower daily sodium intake.
What the group didn’t know was that I had alarmed myself with my own groceries earlier that morning. As I pulled those items from my freezer and pantry a few hours before, I couldn’t believe I had neglected to check the nutrition label on those items when I initially purchased them. I will be the first to admit that I drove to McCormick that morning with one very salty and pitiful excuse of a bag of groceries. But I drove home that afternoon vowing to pay closer attention to nutrition fact labels on the grocery items going into my shopping cart.
I don’t want to give the impression that every food in my house is dripping with salt. It isn’t. But I know I can do better than what that bag of groceries represented. And I will. I will not rush through the grocery store. I will stop tossing items in the buggy without looking at the nutrition label. I will stick to the recommended serving size when I prepare my plate (and my child’s plate.) Those are easy and reasonable remedies to my embarrassing and salty bag of groceries.
Expect these foods to be high in sodium as you shop for groceries:
Frozen pre-cooked chicken
Ramen style noodle products
Soy Sauce and Teriyaki Sauce
Convenience type foods
All deli meats, hot dogs, sausages
How much salt should you look for?
When you read the nutrition fact label, foods with sodium content of 5 percent or less have an acceptable level of sodium per serving. Foods with sodium content of 20% or higher have too much sodium per serving. The other thing to keep in mind is the sodium content listed on the label is per recommended serving. If you double your serving size, you double your sodium. Read your label carefully.
I provide a Cooking Healthy, Eating Smart program for the McCormick Senior Center the third Friday of each month at 10:45 a.m. The meeting is open to the public and free of charge. For questions about this program, contact me at Rhonda@clemson.edu.