Posts Tagged ‘high blood pressure’

Best Food Forward – Halt the Salt!

March 13th, 2013 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

Next time you’re shopping, take a look at your grocery cart. How many processed, packaged food items and ready-to-go meals are there? Over 75% of the sodium in our diets comes from processed foods such as deli meats, pizza, cheese, sauces and soups. Excess sodium is bad for your health. Take these steps to reduce your sodium intake, starting at the grocery store:

  • Buy more fresh foods that are naturally low in sodium, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, milk products, dried legumes (beans, peas, lentils) and unseasoned meats, fish and poultry. Back at home, cook from scratch.
  • Compare food labels. Buy the products with the lowest amounts of sodium.
  • Use the % Daily Value (% DV) on the label to see if a food has a little or a lot of sodium. Here’s a useful guide: 5% DV or less is a little sodium; 15% DV or more is a lot. Choose foods with less than 15% DV for sodium.
  • Pick up sodium-free seasonings such as herbs and spices, fresh garlic or ginger, lemons or limes, onions or balsamic vinegar. They add fantastic flavour to your meals without adding salt!

Eating less sodium can help you stay healthy and feel your best. For more facts and tips on sodium, visit:

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U-Turn on Salt – Maid of the Marinade

May 10th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

I am building on the theme of making a U-turn on using excess salt started on April 20, 2011 to help us get into the habit to use less. You know it’s much easier to “break the shake” habit when the new tips and habits still create lovin’ spoonfuls of tasty food.

This week let’s get our head around marinading our main course meat, fish and poultry. We might be used to using those super salty rubs as we break into the bar-be-que high season. A few weeks ago we had a weeknight chicken fajita extravaganza that was high on flavour and low on salt. This recipe was posted on April 29, 2010 and it’s a real crowd pleaser. Approved seal of approval my my grown up nephews and niece.

I like to mix up the marinade the day before to heighten the taste further. The lime juice in this marinade packs a pucker punch making the chicken taste oh so divine. Give this recipe a try and I know you’ll be adding it to your menu cycle as teaser pleaser.

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U-Turn on Salt – Pepper on the Paprika

April 20th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

I thought I’d delve into different ways to flavour our food sans-a salt in a new blog series “U-Turn on Salt”. I don’t know about you but I have come to the realization that my love affair for “the white stuff” has got to cool down. Yes folks, getting used to having less salt takes a little getting used to but the health benefits abound by doing so. Taste is certainly king for many consumers, including moi so what I’m suggesting is a flavour change-up. What better way to do this than to cultivate a culinary change-up and fast.

Last year I wrote about the issues about consuming too much salt with some practical tips to decrease your use on July 28, 2010. I wrote about how to use the food label to help you get a handle on your intake on July 30, 2010. You and I are not alone on this because consuming too much salt is a global problem. In North America alone we’re eating about double of the upper limit of what’s recommended while most are way over this – not good. But our love affair for taste is strong, so it’s not about taking the bland, ho-hum route and sacrifice taste, but to shift things gradually so no one even notices.

If we try to decrease salt gradually in the foods we eat and prepare at home our taste buds actually adjust and get used to having less. That’s the magic of Mother Nature with this adjustment. You’ll notice the stark difference if you revert back and eat something salty and it won’t taste very good.

This week’s suggestion is to get you thinking about incorporating some Paprika in the foods you prepare. Paprika is used as a finely ground powder from dried red peppers. The taste ranges from sweet and mild to a speecy-spicy hot. Buy it in smaller quantities to start and get into the habit of “peppering” it on your roasted and bar-be-qued meat, fish and poultry, roasted potatoes, fried eggs and even in your salads. At the same time, use less salt and see how this flavour change-up works for you and your family.

If you’ve tried to cut back on your salt usage, drop a line so we can all learn from and be encouraged by each others experiences. Happy taste shifting!!

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Label Reading 101 – Focusing on Sodium

July 30th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times, knowledge is power. This notion truly applies to gleaning a greater understanding of what’s in your food. The food label is your friend, so why not get to know it better. I suggest you pick up a package and learn more about some basics of the food you’re bringing into your house. You may end up changing your ways from what you discover. Today we’ll focus on sodium.

If you’re a newby to this, I suggest starting within the confines of your own home first. Trying this right off the bat in the freezer section of the supermarket might result in frost bite!! So be kind to yourself.

Ok, so take some packages of dried goods out of your cupboard, go get your reading glasses and get comfy. Consumers often make decisions on the fly by looking at splashy text, symbols and pictures on the package. Let’s focus on a few parts of the label to begin with – the nutrition facts table and the ingredient list focusing on the sodium. We’ll focus in on calories and fat another time. I suggest you not let the package design sway your decision but the product content.

I think people get psyched out of reading labels when they focus in on too many nutrients all at once. It’d help to develop a baseline comfort level of understanding how to read a label and build on that with time. Sound good to you?? That’ll be my approach.

Package Serving – How much of a product are you dealing with here? We need to find perspective. Is it 1 pizza, 1 bag of cookies, 1 can of soup, 1 box of cereal? Get an idea of how much is in the package and think about who in your household eats that particular food.

Nutrition Facts Table

Serving Size – Now, what is the defined serving size for that particular food on the nutrition facts table? Is it 1 slice of pizza, 2 cookies, 3/4 cup of soup, 1 cup of cereal? All of the numbers in the nutrition facts table are based on on this serving size. Now think about who eats what, how much of it do they have during a typical meal/snack. You see Grandad might have 2 cookies with his tea, your 17 year old son who doubles as a jock eats 3 slices of pizza at one go. You see where I’m going with this?? How many actual servings are consumed? You then need to multiply by 3, for the pizza example with your son. Got it??

Food Frequency – Now is this food an “everyday” food (or frequent), such as eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast each morning, or a once in a while food, let’s say pizza night is Friday night. All foods fit, but “everyday foods” nutrient profiles should generally be better for you than those considered a treat, which you indulge in once in a while. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care what’s in a “once in a while food”. But let’s stick with looking at labels of foods you eat regularly. When you get the hang of this review all of the food labels you bring into your home.

Ingredient List - By law this is listed by all ingredients in that product by weight from most to least. Now take a look at some of the products you’re focusing on. Are you seeing some trends here?

Note the following additives contain sodium: monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), sodium benzoate, sodium nitrite/nitrate, sodium propionate and sodium sulphite. Are you surprised of the amount of sodium in the foods you and your family eats regularly??

Comparing Products at the Store - After orienting yourself to what info is where on food labels in the comfort of your own home begin comparing products you use with other brands in the grocery store when you need them next. You can start by choosing alternatives that have lower sodium right away.


I’m not getting into total amounts per day right now to keep things simple. My approach is a behavioural one – substitute a lower sodium food for a higher sodium one. Try incorporating the advice in yesterday’s post to lower sodium in your family’s diet further. You’ll be well on your way to retraining your palate to be used to lower sodium foods in no time!! I’ll build on this exercise in future posts and wanted to get you started. Once you get used to it, it’ll become second nature.

I have made snap decisions myself by making assumptions like choosing a pepper based rub for bar-be-quing – wrongo!! When I compared labels, that one had higher sodium per serving than the others. The nutrition facts table IS your friend, so get acquainted with it!!

Do let me know how it’s going for you and if you have any questions??

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Posted in Foodie Fundamentals, Miss Behavin', Nutrition News, Policy for the People | No Comments »

Monitoring Mania – The Annual Physical

June 25th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

Yes monitoring your physical status IS important. It’s vital!! It’s important to know where you’re at so you know where you need to go. Last week I had my annual physical and at age 49, oh joy – from the MD appointment, extra blood work to monitor my thyroid function, return visit because my period is no longer “well timed” and the mammogram, I just about had it. I totally realize the importance of all this, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it….

I really can’t skip my physical, because my MD won’t extend my thyroid medication prescription. I will; however, drive an hour for this one blood test with the hope she’ll raise my dose just a tad.

My appointment starts with the weigh-in by the receptionist. A great place to start the week after returning from the all inclusive vacation! She wings the scale’s balance mechanism over like the butcher would for a veal shank. Somehow you think that by edging the balance mechanism over slowly might allow it to shift just one more notch.

Then comes the girth test to measure my waist size (groan). You can’t fake that like you can at a fancy ladies clothes store, can you? The more expensive the clothes the smaller the size. I can buy myself into a 4 or even a 2 where the size is disproportional to the price. You cannot; however, fool the tape measure. She measures in centimetres so 36-24-36 no longer applies….as if it ever did. Somehow the seventy-something cm measure doesn’t sound so sexy…..

Then comes the corollary activities and tests. I’m now at the age where sales people call me Ma’am, which is about when my MD started scheduling my annual MA’AMmogram. (I stole this line from a comic’s routine – very witty). If your bubbies weren’t sagging when you arrived, they surely will by the time you leave. You check in and wait, then the technician calls my name and locks her steely gaze onto mine. I’m going in for a fun ride here. Someone’s in a cranky mood this Friday afternoon and it isn’t me……yet.

Ok, you get down to business and drop the dairies to get this over with. I know the drill, I’ve been coming here for 9 years now so get those jaws of life in gear so I can vamoose home. Surely a man has designed this machine because the technician uses an accelerator pedal on the floor to close the clamp on your poor booby….really, really tightly. I’m in position for the first picture and the technician says “hold your breath”. Well my dear, it was hurting so much I was ALREADY  holding my breath. Then comes the other “angled shot”. If the breast wasn’t dislodged from the pec muscle in your chest after the first picture, then this other view will surely do the job. UG.

The 4 pics have been taken and the song lingering in my head is “do your ears hang low, can you tie them in a knot, can you tie them in a bow, can you throw them over your shoulder….” Do you remember that tune from days of old? Somehow it applies to this test, only it doesnt refer to your ears. My final thought as I leave is how that machine would make a great nut cracker…..

All joking aside, it is not only important to monitor your weight, girth, blood work, blood pressure, mole status and everything else but your life DEPENDS on it. Get out of the dark and go to your annual check up if you haven’t lately.

Next year, I’ll be scheduled for my first colonoscopy after turning 50. I’m sure I’ll be writing about it, God willing :-)

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About Ole Dogs Learning New Tricks

May 19th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We all know someone who we think could use a little advice. Take my Dad (aka Pops) for example, he has had high blood pressure for years. He also has balance issues which put a monkey wrench on his walking routine. His appetite; however, has been as good as ever leaving his girth looking like he’s due in 3 months if you catch my drift. At least it was… Well, there’s no preaching “diet” to Pops. Although he’ll listen politely and thank you, he’ll just keep on doing what he’s been doing. I guess we can give him a break given he was the only man in our household growing up with 5 females bossing him around. Well 4, I barely got a word in edgewise :-) He is a living saint, but I digress!!

What is it about that senior generation, they treat every goodie like it’s their last? Cookies, Werthers candies, donuts, cake, French fries….. Not to mention doing the “shake, shake, shake” with that salt shaker. Like I’ve always said “all foods can fit”. My point is to not have them all fit on the same day unless of course you’re a triathlete in training!

This year we have the first family wedding of our young generation – our benchmark nephew Chris to our Jenny-girl. The essence of the circle of life lingers in our family’s consciousness as the excitement builds for the blessed event. As routine dictates, my parents go to Florida’s proverbial Del Boca Vista for a few winter months. One day when they were there enjoying “the early bird special” there was a man at the next table who looked like he was living with the consequence of having had a stroke. Well that experience hit Pops like a ton of bricks.

Since that day Pops started cutting back on the treats, the salt, got back to walking and has made a 180 degree turn ON HIS OWN. He’s losing weight steadily, as if he’s competing with George Castanza on the Jenny Craig television commercials. His tummy has shrunk down where he almost doesn’t look like he’s expecting and his blood pressure is much better – thank the Lord!! He ordered French fries as a treat the other day and said he didn’t really liked the way they tasted. Just as Lee DeWyze sang on Idol “Alleluia”….amen Lee!!

Who says you can’t teach an ole dog new tricks?? Well you still can’t!! They have to learn it on their own. In this case, I’m glad he did. Way to go Pops, keep up the good work!!

I know we preach to each other because we care. If our preaching falls on deaf ears, I say dish yourself up some of your “good advice”, MYOB and do something to better yourself.

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Posted in Edit-Storial By A Foodie, Foodie Fundamentals, Francy Rants, Miss Behavin' | No Comments »

Veggie Might, or Might Not

May 12th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

Sandra Wrote about May 9th Post on my Veggie Solution:

I read your post about getting your RDA of fruits and veggies by combining salads that you purchase at the deli counter.  Aren’t you concerned about how much sodium etc they may contain, as they dont include an ingredient breakdown?

Francy’s Response:

Thanks Sandra!! I’m sure many people are wondering the same thing. In an ideal world we as adult consumers should try to watch fat, calories, sodium, etc. But I find most people make nutritional goals on a continuum – home made veggie salads at one end and say French fries with poutine from a fast food joint at the other. I know as a working woman I’m not going to buy all of those ingredients and make a number of salads on the weekend. No can do. So despite my solution’s imperfection, that’s what I’ve chosen currently. For me making this change was a few steps better than my previous lunch choice. As I like to call it “Dietary Snakes and Ladders”.

I think people feel they need to balance so many nutrition and health issues they drive themselves batty feeling guilt that they never do well enough. I try taking the 40 thousand foot view in the grand scheme of things and find perspective for that circumstance. For me in my household eating these salads was much better than sandwiches with deli meats, for example. Also, my husband’s more likely to eat some of these when he’s scrounging around in the fridge for a nibble of something. It’s one of those trading off exercises discussed on May 6th – You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

Many of us health professionals deal in the ideal sense of “what people should do”. It would be much more helpful to people to assist them in evaluating where they are on the continuum and make one or 2 goals to improve just a few steps better. (see my post on May 4 – Build a Better Body – A Better You). I think people who are so far off “the ideal” diet end up throwing up their hands and saying “forget about it”. That’s the last thing we want. Stay in the game and take baby steps to improvement.

Also, we can rely on each other, because we’re all in this together, Through Thick and Thin :-)

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