I grew up in Northern Michigan pretty much living on lunchmeat. The refrigerator was always stocked with it and I’d just pile it on without a second thought. Nowadays the attitude has changed. Lunchmeat has been added to the “bad” foods you have to avoid on a list that keeps getting longer and longer.
Several months ago at a seminar I was asked if I thought someone was a bad mother for giving her kids lunchmeat. She is a working mom and it isn’t reasonable to expect that she has the time to roast and slice her own meat all of the time. She was concerned though that what she views as cutting corners might negatively impact her kids’ nutrition.
People trying to improve their nutrition find themselves under a lot of pressure. Parents enduring the scrutiny of everyone around them struggle even more. There has to be a point where we allow ourselves to be reasonable. Knowing that doesn’t make a person feel less guilty when they do something they think is “wrong”. So is lunchmeat really that bad?
It was actually only last year that the first journal article looking at the impact of lunchmeat consumption was published. Data from over 15,000 people was examined. Do lunchmeat eaters have higher sodium levels? Unsurprisingly, yes. But what is interesting is that these people also had some nutritional advantages over those who were not lunchmeat consumers. People who eat lunchmeat actually do a better job consuming nutrients, such as potassium, that most of the population fails to consume at adequate levels.
Overall, people who eat lunchmeat were not found to be in inferior health compared to those who do not. The findings support the idea that lunchmeat can be part of a healthy diet. Does that mean you should run out and scoop up all the lunchmeat you can get? No. But unless your goal is to become a competitive fitness model, ease up on yourself a bit.
There are many companies working reduce sodium during the preservation process in response to the National Salt Reduction Initiative. Do your research. If you make educated purchases, having a sandwich or a lunchmeat snack here and there in moderation isn’t a major crime.
It is ok to allow ourselves to be reasonable without labeling the act a failure. Plan-Prepare-Balance and you will be just fine.