Tuesday, February 23, 2010



No, not the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, but sodium chloride.

Cultivated for thousands of years it has a an extensive history from trading with China, to Egyptian funerals, to the bible. It was needed to preserve meat back in the day, but obviously, no longer.

I have had the same 1 lb canister of Morton's Salt for the past 12 years - my roommate back in '98 loved salt. Obviously, I don't salt much.

However, I taste it more and more in food that I eat. Tonight I had Wolfgang Pucks lentil soup in a can -- good, but too salty. I bet I can make it better, too. Also had some vegan fish sticks, but not VBites - good, but way too salty. I will outline the health concerns of salt below from Dr. Fuhrman.

Today was the usual - oatmeal, raisins and granola. Really, I am not getting tired of that breakfast at all.

Lunch was a large salad with chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and sunflower seeds. I got a small side of fat-free Italian (whatever that really means), but never even poured it on my salad. I didn't need it! Back in the old days I loved salads, especially dripping with gallons of bleu cheese, or creamy Italian dressing. Now, I just don't like that much dressing, or oil at all - it tastes bad to me now. I have a much more complete love of food as food without any artificial additions!

I never made it to the gym either yesterday or today - the strain in my lat muscle is too bothersome. I feel guilty, but, I have been walking briskly to and from work.

Recently, I have been pretty good at satisfying my sweet tooth with fruit, and not licorice!

Watching the Olympics as athletes compete on a snowy mountain I thought to myself, I really would love a beer. But, do I? Not really, I don't have a craving for it, but I am conditioned, mainly through tradition, of sitting down with a beer to watch someone else work their tail off in athletic competition. It's like getting popcorn at the theatre -- you are conditioned to want it whether you really do or not. I like being able to say no to such things that were such a part of my life almost 4 months ago. I really do think, no, I know that the hard part is over as far as cravings are concerned. I now realize that by resisting temptation early on because I had a goal has made those cravings subside, and it's far easier to live this new life. Now, I know full well that a cold beer right now would taste amazing, but I also know that I can enjoy myself without one.

That really is the key. I recently responded to a post about this issue. Right now I can think back to November 1st and of all the experiences I have had - watching the marathon, watching a big football game, watching rugby, hanging out with friends in bars, going to the opera, having a great meal at some of New York City's best restaurants - in not one case would drinking a beer, or wine, or eating a juicy steak have altered my experience so completely that my life is lesser for it by not partaking. Now, it is 100% true, 1000% true that a nice wine would have enhanced my experience at a fine meal, or a few beers with the boys would have been even more fun, but it was not life altering in a negative way.

It's like if you save your money for a once in a lifetime trip to some place you always wanted to go, and you stayed in your hotel room the whole time - now THAT would be a life altering experience where you truly missed out. If you chose to sit in your hotel room and watch "The Hangover" instead of watching the sun set on the great pyramids, or hiked Machu Picchu, Peru, then yes, your life is less lived without it. But, abstaining from animal products, and alcohol for a mere 6 months? I've missed nothing that I cannot relive a thousand times over in my life.

That was a real awakening for me since part of my insatiable appetite for things that are unhealthy my whole life is that I had a constant fear that I was missing out. Sitting around at a picnic with friends? Well, I was going to enjoy it to, in my mind, the fullest and that meant eating every last steak, and drinking every last beer because 1 is fun but 10 is better, right? It is so clear to see the folly in that way of living.

If I was forced to eat gruel morning, noon and night, perhaps a point could be made that I was making my life miserable and less lived, but I am not, I am eating well, and I am enjoying what I eat. Consequently, the little sacrifices like not drinking a fine scotch whiskey in an oak covered bar, or downing beers outside Giant's Stadium on a snowy Sunday is nothing, sacrificially, like sitting inside the Hilton in Pamplona checking emails on your blackberry while the bulls are running outside. Common sense, I know, but you have no idea how I would have easily compared the two for the last 10-20 years! To the old me, not eating the famed white cheddar cheese and saltine crackers while drinking dark beer two at a time in McSorley's Old Ale House with friends was like going to Paris and not visiting their restaurants, only eating in a Pizza Hut all week. Now I know. One is a mild sacrifice - but not life altering, and the other is more serious and lessens your life lived, not to mention, just stupid. I don't confuse the two any longer.

Too Much Salt (From Dr. Fuhrman)
(1) I do not recommend that salt be added to any food. The DASH study indicates that Americans consume five to ten times as much sodium as they need and that high sodium levels have a predictable effect on raising blood pressure. (2) Elevated systolic blood pressure is an important risk factor for future development of heart disease in middle aged and older adults. Even if you don’t have high blood pressure now, you probably will if you keep eating lots of salt over the years.

There is a frighteningly high correlation between sodium intake and all cause mortality in men. High sodium intake predicts mortality and risk of coronary heart disease, independent of other cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure. (3) This means that salt has significant harmful effects, independent of its effects on blood pressure. Salt also pulls out calcium and other trace minerals in the urine when the excess is excreted, which is a contributory cause of osteoporosis. (4)

You should resist adding salt to foods and look for salt-free canned goods and soups. Since most salt comes from processed foods, bread and canned goods, it shouldn’t be that hard to avoid added sodium.


Anonymous said...

It's kind of like with kids; which is happier: the kid who goes out every Friday for an ice cream sundae with m&d, or the kid who gets a sundae a few times a year as a special treat? That first kid need a bigger sundae after a few weeks, then wonders why he always goes to the same place. The second kid is just psyched. We glut ourselves on pleasures, and lose them all in the process. Amazing...

jewel@fit-and-fabulous-jewel said...

Hi Terry, just leaving a comment to say hello! I found you on Disease Proof and followed the link to check out your blog.

Congratulations on your lifestyle change. You are a great inspiration!

I am on a similar path, also blogging the journey. 40-something (a little more 40-something than you) and a recent vegetarian (not vegan at this point), never athletic but putting activity into my life as well. I have lost 31 pounds.

Looking forward to following more of your journey.

Terrence said...

Jewel -- thanks so much, and your blog looks great! Congrats on the 31 lbs