My Homemade Bread Pledge

As a result of NaBloPoMo, I've been thinking about why I'm blogging. What is important to me? What do I hope to accomplish in the blogosphere? Food is important to me. I am not a doctor or a nutritionist, so please take this with a grain of salt. I can only speak to my experiences and what I generally see taking place in the world.

Last year, I learned that my blood pressure was bordering on high. I had never had a problem with it before. I have a wonderful primary care doctor and we spoke about some possible causes. I was told that if it remained at this level, around 140/90, we might have to discuss medications. I told her that I did not want to go onto medication and wanted to control it by eating better.

The first thing that my doctor mentioned as a possible cause was too much sodium in my diet. I told her that was highly unlikely, because I'm a pretty healthy eater overall. I started looking at what changes I had made to my diet since the last time I had a normal blood pressure reading. To save time, I had recently started buying pre-cooked chicken that was quick to toss into salads.

When I told my doctor, she said that could be part of the problem. When I got home, I looked at the amount of sodium on the package and was stunned. It was really a lot. By eating the chicken for lunch and dinner, I was eating more than the recommended daily amount just with the chicken. Never mind any other food that I was eating. I had also stopped eating a banana everyday like I used to. And I had stopped drinking orange juice and was trying some different juices.

I spoke to my mother and she said potassium helps to control high blood pressure and that bananas and orange juice are a great source. Without noticing, I had increased my intake of sodium while decreasing my potassium intake. A very unhealthy combination. I had always read the labels on food for calories and fat, so I started being more aware of the amount of sodium too. I stopped buying the pre-cooked chicken. Although I love to go out to eat, I know that the food tends to be highly salted, so I don't do it too often and really try to cook most food from scratch.

Over the last several months, I've been eating a banana everyday again and drinking orange juice too. When I went to the doctor's for my back last week, I was very nervous about what my blood pressure reading might be. From what I understand, pain can also increase blood pressure. Since I hadn't been up to cooking too much recently, I bought some really good frozen meals and wasn't sure of their impact. I was very pleasantly surprised to hear that my blood pressure had decreased to 120/70. I'm sticking with the bananas and orange juice!

I was also happy to hear that the FDA recently held a public hearing regarding sodium in food. I do think that there needs to be a greater awareness regarding sodium and how it impacts our health.

Now what does all of this have to do with a Homemade Bread Pledge? Well, a few years ago, I toyed with the idea of going the whole winter without buying bread and baking all my own bread at home. This morning, I finished my last slice of store-bought bread. I made some bread that will be part of an upcoming post.

I thought again about knowing what is in my food and being able to adjust the ingredients to gain better control of my health. I can reduce or eliminate the amount of salt. I can reduce the amount of sugar or substitute honey and syrup. It's all up to me. Now I don't claim to be a health nut. You all know that I love sweets, but there is something good about homemade food, especially bread. You remember the post here.

I figure that by making my decision public, it will be easier to keep my resolve. So today, I pledge that for this winter, now through the end of March, I will do my best to make all of my own bread at home. I will not buy bread at the grocery store more than four times. Let's be realistic here. I know there will come a time or two, or three, or four, when I may not have it in me to bake, but really want some bread.

I'll tell you when I slip up and what I buy. I'm trying to reduce the amount of bread that I eat anyway, so if I don't make it, then I won't eat it for the most part. The pledge does not apply when dining out. When I go out to eat at a restaurant, I will buy bread. That's one of the best parts of eating out! Also, when I say bread, I mean not only sliced bread in a loaf, but English muffins, bagels, scones, etc.

Now I know that making bread is time consuming, but if any of you would like to join me in this endeavor that would be really wonderful. Even though I don't use a bread machine because I like the kneading, if any of you have one, it would make it easier to join along. Is anyone game? Feel free to join at any time during the winter. Please write your own post pledging to make your bread at home, link to my post here and use the Homemade Bread Pledge logo. Now to stock up on yeast and flour....

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Good for you. I am looking forward to the new favorites you discover. I wish I could join you but I am still trying to come up with a decent gluten free loaf. : (
David Sullivan said…
Even though I have to cut out the Carbs I'll live vicariously through your blog!
Suldog said…
I basically have to give up bread whenever I need to lose weight. It's one of my big guilty pleasures. I can sit down and pretty much eat a whole loaf of anything, given the right toppings for it.
Brava! I definitely look forward to see what you're making, and I promise to at least try one of the recipes--I've never made bread!
Tera said…
Anali, I have been battling with blood pressure for about a year and a half now. And I have FINALLY disciplined myself enough to cut back on the little things like not adding too much to fries because there's enough in ketchup or not adding it to things that contain cheese etc. I use certain substitutes and creative with cooking as well. For the most part, it has worked, and I just recently lost 7 lbs. by accident, and finally my BP is under control!
Allison Miranda said…
Here's a couple of posts I did on high blood pressure:

Feel free to read my other posts as well. Good luck!
vasilisa said…
We are dealing with a very similar situation (out of control blood pressure etc...) It's so nice to know that it can be beat. I'm gonna make my hubby read your post! And am looking forward to getting more ideas and swapping recipes :-)

PS: I know I've been off the face of blogosphere. Lot's has been happening on the kids/health front. I'm pretty much a health-food fanatic now. All I'm doing is cooking, researching and trying to restrain my kids. But I'm doing my best to try to get into a blogging groove again :-)
AVIANA said…
Hi there!

Thanks for passing by!

sorry...I can't make this pledge cuz I don't make bread and on top of that, although I love bread, in particular wheat bread from corner bakery, i don't eat it ...gotta keep up the shakiras and fergies..


good luck!
Nance said…
I think it's commendable that you didn't look for a magic pill to control your blood pressure and instead looked to a more natural way to do it through diet. Too often, many people just want to use a pharmaceutical product for a quick fix, and that can lead to yet another pill to remedy a side effect from the first one, and so on until a vicious cycle is begun. Sometimes, we need to take a disciplined and thoughtful approach to our own wellness.
I'm so happy to hear you're eating healthier, Anali. We have to take care of bodies, don't we? You might be interested in an article I wrote about sodium and potassium which will be published on Friday over at Fit Fare on the Well Fed Network.
Lisa Johnson said…
bipolarlawyercook - I have some rice flour, which I think is gluten-free, so I'm going to be using it at some point.

david sullivan - I'll have to make sure it looks good!

suldog - This experiment is also a way for me to cut down a bit too, because I have to make it to eat it.

sognatrice - I'm surprised that you've never made bread! It's way easier than people think and I'll be looking forward to seeing you make it too!
Lisa Johnson said…
tera - Congratulations on your BP too! It really is a feeling of relief. ; )

randi523 - Welcome! Thanks for stopping by! I read your posts and congratulations on all that you have done! I'll be stopping by again. ; )

vasilisa - So good to see you back here! ; ) I'll be looking to you for some suggestions too. I hope your husband likes the post and is able to get his BP under control. I guess it's something that many of us have been struggling with.
Lisa Johnson said…
aviana - Hey there! No problem on the pledge. It's a lot to do, so I'll actually be shocked if people decide to do it, although it would be nice. ; )

nance - Thanks! I really don't like medication and do all I can to avoid it. Like you said, all the side effects end up morphing into something bigger.

susan - Thank you! I'm looking forward to reading your article. I hope you'll post a link on your blog and tell us all about it. : )
Barbara said…
Bread making is so winter isn't it? Good luck. I always find I eat more bread when it's home made.
Lisa Johnson said…
barbara - Thanks! It definitely tastes best! ; )
amisha said…
lisa, i am so proud of you for changing your BP on your own... that is fantastic. and i wish i could join you in the bread pledge 100% but i will try :) i miss baking so so much. one of my second semester resolutions is to bake once a week.
Lisa Johnson said…
amisha - Thank you! I'm looking forward to seeing your bread baking, even if it's just once! ; )

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