Balance is the key to any healthy lifestyle, from the food we eat to the way we workout. When it comes to diet and exercise, I think CrossFitters know all too well the ramifications of overindulging and overtraining. We have all probably had a week of doing too many air-squats only to find the next week we’re struggling through a set of weighted back-squats.
When it comes to food however, this kind of overindulgence can be damaging to the body. So it’s even more crucial to find a balance within the confines of your diet.
Recent research emerging from the University of Alberta found that sodium strips the body of calcium. The study found that diets high in salt deplete the body of calcium, an element vital for strong bones and a healthy nervous system. The study also affirmed prior findings that overindulging in salt increases the risk of osteoporosis and kidney disease.
It is often hard to determine calcium intake, especially for those of us on the Paleo diet so reducing sodium in our diet and finding that balance in the variety of foods we consume is that much more important.
So in the spirit of balance I thought I would share with you some tips to help lower your sodium intake.
1. Taste your food before you season: Yes, this seems painstakingly obvious but so many times we reach for the saltshaker before we’ve even picked up our forkin’ knives.
2. Cook with herbs: Simply put when you cook your meals with fresh herbs salt doesn’t find a place on your plate.
3. Anything salt does chilli does better: A personal favourite of mine is to substitute salt for chilli. Over the years I have built a very strong bond with chilli and get no greater pleasure than finding new ways of incorporating it into my meals. From smothering my morning egg whites in chilli paste to dressing my chicken breast in spicy flakes, you name it I’ve done it. An added bonus is that chilli has also been known to increase the metabolism by as much as 50% for up to three hours after consumption.
4. Avoid processed meats: Yes that means salami, beef jerky and bacon (don’t shoot the messenger). I know most CrossFitters following Paleo have developed a special relationship with bacon so if you can’t avoid it balance your intake with foods lower in salt. Processed meats are among the foods highest in sodium and while there’s no denying salt is an essential nutrient, the reality is we really don’t need that much of it. Unfortunately, it may mean alternating your staple breakfast of bacon and eggs to fruits and nuts.
5. Make your own dressings: Store bought salad dressings tend to be very sodium rich, so an easy way to make your healthy salad even healthier is to get creative in the kitchen. I like to liven up my salads by combining a touch of olive oil, balsamic vinegar with a squirt of honey. There are countless ways to tantalize the tastebuds with homemade dressings.
I think it is fair to say that calcium consumption is always a contentious issue especially for us cavewomen so rather than debate about whether we get enough of the nutrient it’s helpful to know that easing off the salt by way of substitution may just keep those strong bones strong.