I've been helping one of my staff with tracking her iron intake because she is experiencing highly common symptoms of iron deficiency: fatigue, weakness, cold hands and feet, pale skin.. etc. Well what have we found out is her iron intake is actually very normal however a common nutritional link of experiencing iron deficiency symptoms that is overlooked is actually a diet low in potassium.
Potassium is one of the important vitamins that i am definitely guilty of not always hitting the recommended daily requirement for my profile type (height, weight, activity level). Potassium is an electrolyte: conducts electricity in the body, which is critical for heart function, proper digestion and muscle contraction. Potassium aids in protein building and breaking down carbs for energy/usage.
What can happen if you consistently don't feed your body enough potassium? Hypokalemia- weak muscles, abnormal heart rhythms, and a potential rise in blood pressure. Signs of deficiency are typically to fatigue, irritability and tension in muscles.
Unless you are on dialysis, overdose of potassium from whole food is rare but it is possible to consume too much potassium salts which can lead to nausea and vomiting.
What foods to find potassium in? "BANANAS." FALSE! Well no not false at all BUT bananas actually fall on the back end of the potassium rich food scale; here are some top choices: Lima beans, Avocado, Spinach, Sweet potato, Coconut Water, Yogurt, Beats, Banana, Acorn squash, Dried apricots, Mushrooms. Many fish choices (halibut and salmon) are also high in potassium!
How to keep your diet on point while traveling, at work or on the go? Salad bars! They are everywhere now days which is extremely continent for clean eating but can also feature many unhealthy choices in a "healthier way."
Rule 1: Pile on the veggies! Most vegetables are very light in weight so they won't break your bank at the cashier. Spinach, carrots, broccoli (added protein for vegans), peppers, zucchini are all great toppings that deliver good-for-you antioxidants for very few calories.
Rule 2: Vegetables like sprouts, peas, iceberg lettuce, corn, white potatoes and celery don't provide enough nutrition to be worth the cost or plate space. Avoid any vegetables that appear to have been seasoned or marinated for you, you can add your own (and probably much healthier) condiments at the end.
Rule 3: My personal opinion is to opt out of fruit from a salad bar and grab a 39 cent banana instead. You will not only save money but you'll avoid excess sugar intake from anything that is dried or previously canned or in syrup for preservation. If you do want to add in fresh fruit I would suggest cranberries, kiwis or apricots they are all lower in both sugar and carbs!
Rule 4: Simple, the carb sources that will provide you with the highest "bang for your buck" and nutritional value will be from brown rice, black beans, quinoa or sweet potatoes. Skip the pasta salads, potato salads and rolls!
Rule 5: GRAB YOUR PROTEIN. If it isn't clear yet, i consume a high protein diet so i am the biggest advocate of getting in protein via multiple sources (broccoli for veggie, black beans or even chick peas for carb). What my go to is at salad bars are typically eggs or chicken. Sometimes the eggs don't look so appealing so i stick with chicken. Most salad bars have a "tuna salad" option which is better than nothing but not the cleanest option.
Rule 6: Toppings? Go for salsa, balsamic or humus. Pass on creamy or oil filled dressings that will not only weigh down your wallet but give little to no value for your body. PASS on croutons!