With the growing concern about how much sodium we are consuming daily, many people are starting to watch their salt intake. Anyone who has previously tried to switch to a low-sodium diet knows that it can be difficult to stick with due to the fact that we really enjoy our food with salt. Here are some tips that should help you, as it did me, to stay on a low sodium diet.
1 – Don’t go cold turkey
If you can, try to ease yourself into the low-sodium diet. Immediately changing everything you eat to low sodium will make you want to switch back right away. This is because you will be acutely aware of the lack of salt and its wonderful flavor that you’re so used to.
I tried low-sodium soups when I first started watching my sodium intake and it was awful! Adding salt to the soup after it’s been made does not help either. I went back to regular soups until after I was on lower sodium for a few months. Now the lower sodium soups actually taste pretty good!
2- Drop the salt shaker!
So many people have the habit of adding salt to their food at the table. If you are one of those who reach for the salt shaker at meals, put the shaker away! When eating out, move the salt shaker to another table before sitting down. Remind yourself that your food already has salt in it.
There are so many spices out there that can add flavor to your food without having to add salt. Instead of grabbing the salt shaker, try picking the other shaker that sits next to it. You’d be surprised how many things taste great with black pepper used in place of salt.
Don’t be embarrassed to bring your own spices with you. My mother used to carry a tiny Tupperware of cinnamon and sugar in her purse for whenever we ate at a Chinese restaurant. She would only eat white rice if it had cinnamon and sugar on it.
Try some of the spice blends available at your grocery store. Many of them, such as Mrs. Dash, boldly advertise themselves as salt substitutes. Be sure to read the labels though, as some salt substitutes and spice blends contain Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). MSG has been known to cause some negative side effects in a certain percentage of people.
4- Add salt LAST
When you cook at home, add the other spices to your food first. Add salt last. Adding the other spices first allows them to infuse their flavors into the food. Then, when you add the salt, it should simply enhance those flavors because that is salt’s real purpose- to be a flavor enhancer. You’ll discover that allowing the other spices to get into the food first will make it so you don’t need as much salt. Try it! It really does work.
5- Cut back or Drain
I used to eat a ton of ramen noodles. These delicious, easy-to-prepare meals are loaded with sodium. After one of my female bosses scolded me for eating them during my pregnancy I started using only half of the flavor packet. These days I find it easier to just make the broth in a separate cup using the whole packet and then pour half of the liquid into my bowl.
With canned soups I make the soup using the complete contents of the can. After it’s heated I drain half the broth. I even do this with lower sodium soups.
As with diets of any kind, the main thing to watch is quantity. Don’t eat a lot of high sodium things all in one day. If you MUST eat something which you know is loaded with sodium, make sure everything else you eat that day is low sodium.
Don’t go crazy adding up numbers either. Rough estimates are ok (unless your doctor tells you otherwise) and after a couple months of reading labels, you’ll get a good feel about what is high sodium and what is low sodium. Remember that YOU control what you eat so BE in control!