Retiring the salt shakers


Well, I’ll be a salty dawg!

I have not been to see a doctor in more than a year – why should I?  I feel great and have been doing most of the right things. I power walk most days, try to eat the ole Five a Day fruits and veges even though I mostly just choke them down, being a junk food junkie and all….

no_salt The real reason I haven’t been to a doctor is that my Daddy retired last year, and now I actually have to PAY for office visits.  Nevertheless, I broke down and found myself a doctor in Starkville and went in for my first visit yesterday.  I was stunned to learn that my blood pressure has crept up to dangerous levels.  When did that happen? And why.

My new doc and I reviewed some of my habits and he diagnosed part of my problem as a “salty” one – I love all things hot and salty, as well as sweet and gooey.  I’m especially fond of Tony Chacheres, and “doctor” everything with multiple “shakes.” He made a few suggestions any instructed me to clean up my act and come back in three  months – if it’s down to normal levels, I won’t be forced to go on prescription drugs

In the meantime, I have to go to Wal-mart once a week and use their machine to check it out and send him my report card once a month.  Why are all good things bad for you?

Step 1: Read, read, read.
Check all labels before food preparation so you know how much sodium you’re starting with.

  • Try to stay below the limit of 1,500 milligrams per day.
  • Always buy the low-sodium versions of prepackaged, frozen, canned, or jarred foods and sauces.
  • Opt for fresh veggies over canned and retire the salt shaker permanently.
  • Make things from scratch when you can, to control the sodium content.
  • Step 2: Reduce, reduce, reduce.
    How many ways can you cut the sodium from your food?
  • Rinse canned foods before using.
  • Don’t add salt to the water when you boil pasta or rice.
  • Ditch the flavor packets that come with instant or prepared foods, and do your own seasoning.
  • Choose fresh whole cuts of meat or fish over processed, pressed, cured, or canned.

Step 3: Season, season, season.
Get creative with fresh flavors so you won’t feel tempted to grab the saltshaker.

  • Choose fresh herbs and salt-free spices instead of salt.
  • Use herb- or citrus-infused oils, avocado mash, or malt or cider vinegars instead of salty condiments like barbecue sauce, ketchup, and soy sauce.
  • Try oil with red wine vinegar or lemon juice instead of salty salad dressings.
  • Season lean animal protein and veggies with onions, mushrooms, garlic, peppers, and other fresh, savory flavors.
  • Stuff fresh, crunchy veggies into sandwiches or wraps, instead of pickles or olives.

3 thoughts on “Retiring the salt shakers

  1. Emily…Welcome to the salt free world! I have been trying to be good at this for several months now and have found, surprisingly, that some things actually taste good without salt. I love salt on tomatoes and corn, but have been able to eat them happily now without sodium I guess it is an acquired taste. I still have to sprinkle a bit on eggs…I can even eat a hamburger (made with ground turkey) without salt. Good luck! Shirley

  2. Emily,
    If you haven’t done it already, try leaving off ANY processed foods. There are lots of things done to foods that play havoc on the human body these days — should be illegal, but it’s not.

    Monitor your BP frequently and see if it doesn’t help lower the blood pressure. If it helps enough, perhaps you could eventually use just a little bit of Kosher salt without getting elevated BP’s, but wait until it’s consistently within normal range before you add any.

    You probably already know this, but Kosher salt is bigger so it hits the taste buds when the tongue first hits the food, rather than being hidden inside the bites. Since it’s surface area is larger, that may be another reason why it tastes twice as salty for the same amount of sodium as table salt.

    On the other hand, avoid sea salt as it has twice as much sodium for the the equivalent amount of table salt to get that same taste.

    Only bad thing about Kosher salt is that it doesn’t have iodine in it (I think, but check that out), a necessary thing the body needs for some of it’s major functions. You don’t want to end up having a goiter pop up on your neck!

    The good thing about Kosher salt is that it’s inexpensive and can be purchased at Walmart and most any grocery store. Many people think it has a nicer, cleaner taste than some of the other salts.

    This is for the future in case getting off of processed foods helps to reduce your BP enough to reintroduce added salt into your diet — that is if you want to try it.

    Oh, and remember that frozen dinners VERY often will have TONS of salt in them, so best avoid those. Other frozen foods may not have any salt as they shouldn’t need a preservative if they are frozen right away. By the way, many frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen right in the field as they are picked. Isn’t that neat?

    If you go into a Chinese restaurant and request NO MSG, don’t be surprised if the cook in the back doesn’t interpret that to mean “just a smidgeon of MSG.” I’ll betcha you didn’t know that smidgeon was a Chinese word, did ya? (A Chinese friend who happens to be a chef told me this once. He said that they want the food to have taste, so they just reduce the amount, thinking (without inquiring) that a little won’t hurt!

    Another thing I would avoid if possible would be nitrates?/nitrites in foods, such as meats, like bacon, for instance, even if it doesn’t help your BP.

    Both those and MSG will give me the worst migraines, and with the migraines, I would get a VERY high BP, particularly before I got off gluten which I cannot eat even a molecule of without doing damage to my intestines.

    I insist on uninjected meats at the grocery store, mostly due to my immune responses to certain allergens which are commonly in those injections into meats, but I just think the uninjected products are the best anyway. Meats come under the jurisdiction of USDA rather the FDA, so it’s much more difficult to find on the label what else is in there other than the meat you think you are getting without adulteration.

    You should be able to find meats like that at a Krogers if you have one near enough, but don’t look for them at low end stores — you won’t find them. Often times, even at the higher end chain stores, the people behind the meat counter aren’t too helpful when it comes to knowing what’s in the products that are brought in from elsewhere and sold there, but usually, the more natural products will be free of some of these things.

    It’s hard for me to tell what caused my BP to go from high to low during the process of eliminating things to cool down my hyperactive autoimmunity, but I think the food “allergies” had a lot to do with it.

    I just sort of stumbled onto some other food additives along the learning curve in removing those that made me realize there are other things that don’t belong in foods. At least my allergens are all foods, if one is not allergic to them! These, on the other hand, are poison to anyone, not just the allergic or sensitive.

    Good luck with the BP. Oh, and back to your original question.

    I used to put pepper on things and found that I didn’t notice not having salt when I’d do that.

    Even now, whenever I have a baked potato, I use rosemary along with pepper. Because I’m sensitive to dairy casein, I subsitute good olive oil for butter anyway, and think the combination is just delicious, and easy to do. Rosemary packs alot of flavor. I hope you like it. I squish it up with my fingers as I’m spreading it over the potato. Of course, now I use a little Kosher salt on the potato since my BP has shifted toward the low to normal side since I’ve altered my diet otherwise. I think it will taste just about as good to you without it.

    Oh, and I hope you don’t like cheese too much — they are really salty!!

    I would avoid sulfites as well, particularly when there are “added sulfites.”
    Note on bottles which products mention “-ites.” These things tend to come in bottles as condiments and wines, for instance.

    Many of these things, other than the regular food proteins people are allergic to, are additives which act as “excitotoxins.” I believe that not only do they do a job to our nervous systems, but that they might possibly play a role in all the high blood pressure people are having these days.

    Anyway, with that bountiful harvest of yours, you should be able to have lots of fresh food on a regular basis to help with avoiding all the processed and otherwise unhealthy foods.

    I’m sure that others have some things they’ve used to replace salt with things that keep things from tasting so plain.

    Let us know what else you discover that works for you.

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