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Food companies are getting smart about healthy eating.


The two BEST pieces of advice for getting healthy?

1. Exercise first thing in the morning. If you miss some sleep, so be it. Studies prove that morning movers stick to their workout routines, get better sleep, and have an easier time staying healthy the rest of the day. Get it done first, so it gets done!

2. Make small dietary changes for better health. "Fad" diets don't work, that is why they are called fads. "Crash" diets are worse; they crash. Balance and moderation work. But it can be frustrating. It's difficult to make changes that will last a lifetime, and the results take time. Practice patience. Getting smart about food is the first step. (To learn more about food, visit our archive category "Everything Food".)

Big food companies like ConAgra, Unilever and Campbell Soup are getting it. It is common knowledge that a high sodium diet is risky. High salt intake can lead to high blood pressure which can lead to heart disease. Instead of waiting for the government to mandate change, these companies are doing it on their own in a smart way. And they've been doing it for nearly 10 years!

(Read a previous post on sodium risks)

What is the strategy?
Reduce the sodium so slowly that the consumer doesn't even notice it. Brilliant! ConAgra has slowly been lowering sodium in a large share of its foods and Campbell's has reduced sodium in its top-selling products by nearly 25% since 2001! Small changes over time.

Why not a reduced sodium product?

Reduced sodium products have not done well in terms of sales volume. Case in point: Amy's Kitchen, a natural and organic food purveyor, makes a lentil soup that our preschooler loves. We appreciate the wholesome ingredients, but not the whopping 590mg of sodium per 1 cup serving (25% RDA). So I purchased the "light in sodium" version. It was a failure. She wouldn't eat it. This has been the problem with many of the low salt versions. Customers try it and think it's bland, and likely compared to the original, it is!

As a parent, I appreciate quick serve meal options; and there are plenty available with top-notch ingredients and good nutrition profiles...except the sodium! I read in today's WSJ that Kellogg's reduced 75% of the sodium for its All Bran cereal over 20 years. TWENTY YEARS.

BOTTOM LINE

Dietary change is never easy. Set a goal and do it slowly. It's a good sign that the suppliers of our food seem to get this -- at least some of them do.

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