Have you finalized your health and fitness goals as you plan for 2015? Do your goals include losing some unwanted pounds, eliminating a need for prescription medication(s), or managing a medical condition? If so, now is a good time to outline your action steps to make your goal(s) a reality in 2015. As a first step, I recommend starting with an assessment of the food items you typically place in your grocery cart. Most often it’s the food items in one’s grocery cart that impacts his or her ability to achieve targeted health and fitness goals—food items like boxed meal mixes, processed meats, frozen dinners, breads, soups and sugar-laden beverages.
One of my clients recently assessed the food items in her grocery cart. With some research, she became knowledgeable enough to know that her selections, namely a cart filled with processed food items, were probably hindering the progression of her fitness goals and posing increased risks to her health.
“Coach Collins, I am so glad I conducted the grocery cart assessment! A high consumption of processed foods is something I never considered. Being a single parent of four small children, I gravitated to meal solutions that were quick and convenient. And for me, selections like frozen chicken strips and boxed mashed potatoes fit that description.”
I told her, “I’m glad you are now educated on the fact that most processed foods like those you and your family consumed did not contain the nutrition needed to foster and sustain healthy bodies. Even more harmful were the sugar, salt, and chemicals (preservatives, artificial sweeteners, etc.) that are added to enhance the flavor or increase the shelf life.”
“After reviewing the information you provided me about sodium on the American Heart Association’s website,” she continued, “I researched online the nutritional value of my favorite grilled chicken sandwich. I was astonished that something promoted as healthy contained 830 milligrams (mg) of sodium. Then I researched my favorite brand of cold cereal and I discovered it had more sodium than a serving of my favorite potato chips.”
“According to the American Heart Association,” I said, “the average American consumes more than 3,400 mg of sodium per day. That’s more than double the American Heart Association’s recommended limit of 1,500 mg. For sodium to perform its function in our bodies, we need less than 500 mg.”
“For years I thought the recommended daily recommendation for sodium was 2,300 mg,” Natalie commented.
“On their website, the American Heart Association states the following:
‘Previously, the American Heart Association sodium recommendations set the limit at no more than 2,300 mg/day for the general population and 1,500 mg/day for hypertensive individuals, blacks, and middle-aged and older adults. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data in 2009 showing that nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population is made up of the groups for whom 1,500 mg a day sodium is recommended. Ninety percent of American adults are expected to develop high blood pressure in their lifetimes, and eating too much sodium is strongly linked to the development of high blood pressure.’”
“Because I’ve become more educated about food content, preparation and consumption, my levels of blood pressure have improved. As a result, my doctor has placed me on reduced medication.”
“That is wonderful, Natalie!”
“Yes,” she exclaimed. “And I have the kids helping me with preparing chicken dishes with 100 percent natural chicken pieces. I am using real Idaho or sweet potatoes to make mashed potatoes. We are eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.”
“Great action steps! It’s wonderful to hear about what you are doing to incorporate better eating habits.”
“And, I’m continuing the goal to reduce our intake of processed food by: (1) eating more fresh foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh lean meats, poultry, and fish; (2) reading the product labels for sodium content for all of our food selections and limiting those with a high sodium content; and (3) using herbs and spices — rather than salt — to flavor our foods, and (4) remembering the goal of 1,500 mg of sodium or less.”
“Thanks, Coach! I’m so excited about the possibility of totally eliminating my high blood pressure medication. Above all I’m setting an example for my children by understanding and practicing good eating habits.”
Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? (Isaiah 43:18-19)