Anyone that has ever done some kind of dieting knows that there’s going to be counting. Whether you’re counting calories or points or carbs, you’re going to be tracking numbers. Believe me, I’d done it all. I’ve tacked calories, I’ve tracked grams of fat, I’ve tracked carbs – none of it was new to me. When I started my journey, though, there was a new number that was thrown into the mix… Sodium.

In all my years of dieting, I never paid a great deal of attention to sodium. I think few people do. When you start looking at the numbers, though, it is startling how much salt we put into our bodies.

One of the first things I remember being told when I started my journey was, “Most people are walking around simply bloated.” I thought that seemed little extreme, but since then I’ve realized how true it is, and some of the worst culprits are the “healthy” selections you make in the store or in restaurants. Just for fun, the next time you’re reading a nutrition label; don’t just look at the calories. Take a moment to look at the sodium as well. Now consider that you should only have 1,000mg of sodium a day.

I was probably one of the worst people when it came to consuming enough fluids during a day. In the past I would have a solitary drink sitting on my desk through an entire work day and quite possibly still wouldn’t finish it. So there I was, possibly making a healthy choice for my meal, but it was still packed with sodium and on top of that I wasn’t drinking. It’s no wonder I was retaining a ton of fluid!

Even now I do my very best to avoid eating out the day before a weigh-in because I know it is going to throw off my numbers – especially if I eat out for dinner. One of my go-to places is Applebee’s. I love their healthier options, and the Napa Chicken is a frequent choice. That meal – for everything – only has 500 calories. Not bad for a good dinner, right? However, the sodium in that meal… 1,610… that’s over 500mg more than I should have in an entire day. And you know what? I can tell a difference.

On Friday I ordered lunch after going more than a week without eating anything prepackaged or from a restaurant. Within an hour my feel were swollen and the rings on my fingers weren’t as loose. Now picture doing that all the time; many of us are guilty of doing just that.

I’ve heard plenty of people complain that they don’t understand why they aren’t losing weight when they are “eating healthy”. Some of those people are my coworkers, and I’ve told them the same thing… sodium. You can make the healthiest of choices when dining out, but I can almost guarantee that if you’ve eaten out two times in a day, you’ve had three times the amount of sodium you should have. It adds up, especially if you aren’t drinking enough.

So what do you do? I’m not going to forego eating out, and I know that no one else is. I counter my intake of salt in a couple of ways. For one, I make sure that I am drinking at least 64 ounces a day. That took some getting used to. I keep a 24 ounce Tervis tumbler on my desk with a straw. My goal is to drink three of those during my workday. That puts me 8 ounces over what I need to take in, and I know that anything else I drink is a bonus. Also, the straw is key. Mary Morrison actually gave me that tip from an ABC story, and it has worked for me. According to the story, you will drink more if you use a straw. It has definitely helped me get in 3 times more fluids than I used to drink.

My other little trick in combating the sodium and salt is parsley. Something I didn’t know until I started this journey is that parsley is a natural diuretic. You can pick up parsley tea or even capsules at most health food places or even The Vitamin Shoppe. I prefer the capsules myself, but I take two with each meal. We also make sure to use parsley when cooking and avoid using salt as a seasoning; we use substitutes instead.

Like I’ve said before, I’m not claiming to be an expert. I’m still learning as I go, but this is something that I’ve learned. You can take from it what you will. You’d be amazed the difference one small change can make
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