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Bad eating habits

Published:Wednesday | April 28, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Rosalee Brown, Gleaner Writer

Some of us have food-preparation habits which may not be healthy. Some popular habits include:

Adding salt to tea, coffee, and all hot drinks. Some people, even those with high blood pressure, say that they must do this to make the drink flavourful. As we know, a high-sodium diet can increase our chances of high blood pressure, and for those who already have this problem, more sodium can make it more difficult to manage. We should strive for less than 2,300mg of sodium in our diets daily. A pinch of salt (one-eighth teaspoon) is equal to 300mg sodium, so depending on the amount of salt added to the hot drink, you could be over your maximum daily requirement before you take your first bite.

Meats must be seasoned with powdered seasoning and soy sauce. These are high-sodium alternatives. Some soy sauces have between 800 and 1,260mg sodium per tablespoon!

We must have a sweet drink with or after our meals. A typical glass is between 10 and 12 ounces and many people will have more than one glass of 'sweet drink' with their meal. One tablespoon of sugar can amount to between 60 and 80 calories, depending on whether it is a level, heaped or rounded tablespoon, and some people use more than one tablespoon of sugar per glass.

Must eat something sweet after a meal. A small piece of cake, for example, about three ounces of pineapple upside-down cake, is approximately 300 calories; an orange is about 50 calories and a small ripe banana is 100 calories.

Butter or oil in the rice will increase the flavour but also the calories. One tablespoon of butter is approximately 135 calories, but one clove of garlic or a country pepper will not increase your energy intake but will improve the flavour.

Must eat potato salad every Sunday. Try the 'lite' mayonnaise instead as one tablespoon is 45 calories. You could also use less mayonnaise and use more herbs for flavour.

Fried plantains must be part of the meal. To fry plantains you will need several tablespoons of oil, even in a non-stick pan, and one tablespoon of oil is 135 calories. Try baking plantains in the toaster oven or cooking them quickly in a microwave.

Must have fried eggs. This can be achieved with one teaspoon oil in a non-stick pan. One teaspoon of oil is equal to 45 calories, or enjoy the eggs boiled or scalded.

Our favourite habits come with a cost, so become informed and make wise choices.

Rosalee M. Brown is a registered dietitian/nutritionist who operates Integrated Nutrition and Health Services; email: yourhealth@gleanerjm.com.