Low-Sodium Square One

I received a couple emails this week from readers who had been newly diagnosed with some life-altering situation and, as you can probably guess, had been told to start a low-sodium diet.

Some of them were friends. Some of them were strangers. Some were nearing their sixties. Some had barely left the nest at twenty.

All of them were stunned.

So while I had a lovely seven layer low-sodium salad ready for you today

I thought it might be better to pause from the cooking and talk about taking on this low-sodium diet, starting at square one.

First, it is important that you focus on the positives and find that silver lining…

…wait, wait, wait. That’s not right. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Because before you can really, guininely believe in any of that Pollyanna stuff, you need to do something else. You need to swear. Loudly. And I’m not talking about “shoot” or “goshdarnnit” or something really creative like “fothermucker.”

I’m talking about shit.


Yes, I just wrote that. And I’m going to write it again – shit. Because that is exactly what this sudden, unexpected crack in your life feels like. And when your life has changed, start picking up the pieces by swearing. I know you thought I would say something else inspiring. But this is just the truth, people.

And don’t just sit there. Scream it with me. I’m running through the halls yelling at the top of my lungs and you should be too. Or if you need some more support, phone a friend and scream it with them (although, please do let them know why you are doing this so as not to scare them off). You don’t have to be on a low-sodium diet to swear. And I’m sure your friend will find it equally therapeutic.

Now, doesn’t that feel better?

I know. It really does. It feels like pirate yoga. And it is an extremely important exercise to practice, because you have to own all the anger and the fears and the anxieties that come with a life changing moment.

Then you have to release it. And while it is ok to be scared and sad and swear-crazy, it is equally important to not let those emotions paralyze you.

With that out of the way, now you can really, truly start seeing the positives.

Like the fact that you may be able to be healthier just by changing your diet. And that this diet – the one you thought was going to be boring and difficult – can actually be very tasty and a lot of fun. Did you see that seven layer salad?

And that you are not alone and there are many wonderful, creative, and caring people out there who will rally around you. If you let them. And you don’t always swear when they answer the phone.

So it is up to you to own your feelings, let them go, and then latch onto those silver linings. And to change your perspective from feeling limited to limitless.

Because this is not the end to an exciting life. It is just the beginning of one.

Pinkie swear.

For more thoughts on taking on a low-sodium diet, check out some recent articles on Stanford’s Scope Blog and Lifescript.com. Oh, and have a good weekend too.



Filed under good living, tips & tricks

12 responses to “Low-Sodium Square One

  1. You are doing important work. Keep it up!

  2. Thanks so much for all your great and helpful advice. It’s so hard to adapt to such a different lifestyle than most have and you have made the positives shine through.

  3. Leslie Mahoney

    You inspire us all……..I so appreciate every single Sodium Girl entry – not just for the low-sodium advice but for your infectious love for life and reminder to look for the positive!

  4. Cyn

    SG – thank you for posting this. Even though I am an expert at making yummy low sodium saag paneer and have had my own fun adventures in low sodium cooking, it still is a piss off (ha) about having to worry about “what would happen if I eat that olive?” Thank you for verbalizing that. Here’s to you for making low sodium cooking inspiring – not just drudgery. And three cheers to my bf for putting up with my uncured reduced sodium bacon.

  5. Magdalena CAbrera

    Amen to what Leslie says. It feels comforting to be floating down this crazy river of life with such amazing loved ones. Thanks, my darling SG.

  6. Meghan

    Beautifully said! When something like illness stops us in our tracks, it makes us all the more mindful of the way we live. Isn’t that really have everyone should be living?

  7. Barbara

    Yep. I’m one of those who has to do it. A low sodium diet. I found a taste savior, though, at Penzeys Spices. They have so many salt-free blends that you WILL NOT miss SALT. Promise. We are eating more flavorfull food than we ever have in our entire lives, my hubs and me, but WE HAVE WONDERFULLY FLAVORED FOOD, AND WE DO NOT MISS SALT ONE TINY BIT. Swears. They have an unassuming little website, a catalog several times a year you can get in print of by PDF download, with lots of great recipes from people all over, and if you are very, very lucky you can visit a real walk-in store. Look for one in your state. If not, order by mail, but order.

  8. Dave

    Are there any endurance athletes out there that need to stick to a low sodium diet. I’ve got Meniere’s and I’m currently training for Marine Corps Marathon in the fall. It’s tough trying to figure out whether adding some extra sodium on those really hot summer days is going to be too much. I make all my own No-sodium breads now which has helped a lot.

    • Hi Dave! I actually am a triathlete and I’ve definitely had to figure out how to stay fueled while keeping low in sodium. I think every body is different, of course, but I’ve found that by drinking coconut water (instead of gatorade) and using gels that are low in sodium (like GU), I keep from cramping and stay hydrated.

      Check out this past post for more thoughts on low sodium racing!

      And let me know what other low sodium tricks you discover!

      • Dave

        Thanks for the information. I remember hearing about coconut water on one of those survival shows, I’ll have to look into that. For now on the hot days I’ve been using 50/50 mix of Powerade and water. I think Powerade has a little less sodium. For energy I typically just use raisins or snack bars that have lower sodium. Lately on the really hot days I have been mixing in a gel or powerbar. This weekend I thought I hydrated and had a reasonable amount of sodium but still lost 4 pounds. Just afraid to add too much sodium too fast as I’m not sure how much I can tolerate. I’ll check out the article, thanks for the tips and the great site!

  9. Christine H.

    Thank you so much for this post. I was given the ‘diagnosis’ over Thanksgiving week, and there are times where it feels impossible. No salt and limited sugar (diabetes too)? How?? I will continue to keep up with your blog and hopefully your enthusiasm will be contagious!

    PS. I’m originally from Fremont, CA. How’s life on the Bay??

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