So. Tomorrow is the LAST DAY of my internship. I refuse to work for free ever again. We graduate Wednesday, at nice awards banquet/dinner, and our families and all of our preceptors that we’ve had throughout the months will be there as well. It is an amazing feeling to finally be at the end of this long process to become a Dietitian. Four years of school and a then a ten month long internship, and Wednesday at 6pm I get to call myself a Dietitian . But it’s not over yet. I still have to take the registration exam.
I noticed that I have been posting a lot of recipes, and not as many health/nutrition opinion posts as I would like. I’m also not posting as often and I’d like. Now that my internship is practically over, I am going to have MUCH more time to spend devoting my time to growing this blog and turning it into what I want!
I have been working with heart failure patients for the past four weeks and I’ve had the fantastic opportunity to work with patients in a cardiac rehabilitation center. These are patients who have had heart attacks, stents, bypasses, and are in recovery. Physical activity is vital to the recovery of these patients from their cardiovascular events. Cardiac rehab gives them the opportunity to exercise in a safe environment—hooked up to monitoring machines and staffed with nurses and exercise physiologists. It was awesome to be able to work in a team environment like this.
I am now a master of my “Low-Sodium schpeil” that I’ve been giving to pretty much all of my patients. A high sodium diet can be very detrimental to a patient in cardiac recovery. I love my cardiac rehab patients because they are so willing to listen and change—some have even taken notes in our sessions.
High salt intake can cause water retention in people with heart failure, can increase blood pressure, overwork the kidneys and heart, cause dehydration, electrolyte abnormalities, and can even increase the urge to eat (the munchies).
Sodium can be one of the trickiest things to cut out of a diet. It takes a lot of effort and planning to make this kind of change. Many of my patients were surprised to see where excess sodium was in their diets. Here are my main talking points with them:
- Most Americans need to stick to 2000mg of sodium per day—but the American Heart Association has changed the rule to 1500mg for people with high blood pressure.
- Processed meats, cheeses, chips, crackers, breads, pickled vegetables, and pasta/rice sauce mixes are some of the biggest culprits.
- The easiest way to reduce sodium in your diet is to shop the perimeter of the store—get your fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy first and try to avoid the center as much as possible.
- Flavor your foods with spices, herbs, vinegars and even lime or lemon juice. Try out Mrs. Dash’s many salt-free options.
- Taste your food before salting. You may not even need the salt.
- Restaurants tend to overload with salt. Your best bet is to get a small, lean steak (6-7oz) and tell the cook not to add salt. Order fresh veggies or a baked potato for sides.
- Balsamic vinegar and olive oil is your new best friend. You can add it to pretty much anything and it will taste good— and salt free. Pasta, bread, salads, even vegetables.
It’s even hard for me to stick around 2000mg. I’m usually around 2500mg but I try hard to avoid salty processed foods when I can. I also try to get enough potassium throughout my day to make up for the excess sodium. Including as much fresh food as possible is the best way to reduce salt intake, and making sure you stay hydrated with plenty of water throughout the day.
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Hi! I’m Emily, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and self-taught intuitive chef. I firmly believe that cooking is the simplest and most important step we can take to improve our minds and bodies and build healthier communities. Join me and let’s bring food back to the kitchen!