My Story

In January of 2004, I received a diagnosis that changed my life. I was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease that in my case attacked my kidneys and brain. Due to the intensity of the initial “flare up” of the disease, I became renal insufficient and eventually faced kidney failure. Amazingly, through great medicine, wonderful family and friends, and an enormous amount of support, I became stronger and healthier and miraculously, my kidneys partially regenerated. I no longer depend on dialysis and by regulating my diet, I depend on fewer medications.

Seven years later, I work as a full-time food writer (isn’t that ironic!) and I live a full and utterly enjoyable life. My dietary restrictions have transformed into a real passion for food and I hope to be able to pass along my favorite finds to others facing similar dietary challenges. Be creative, be friendly, and be full!

Update: Next fall, Sodium Girl and Wiley Publishing will bring you (and your local book store) all the delicious low sodium meals you can possibly handle, and then some. Get those salt-free palates ready!


40 responses to “My Story

  1. Wow–you’re really inspirational! Few people are so proactive in turning the bitter to sweet. I look forward to seeing how you infuse food with flavor without relaying on the common crutch of salt…

    • Dear gluttonforlife,

      Thank you for the kind words (especially from a much more experienced blogger yourself). So excited to be connected through cyberworld and of course, food!

  2. Milli

    Thanks so much for your blog. I’ve been really encouraged by how many people are talking about dietary issues. I found out I had Fibromyalgia (as well as a wheat intolerance) about a decade ago, and recent discovered that my body had developed more food allergies/intolerances. Anyway, you’ve got some yummy recipes and helpful advice!

    • Hi Milli –

      Thank you for your kind note. I’m so sorry for your diagnosis, but it sounds as if you have an incredibly strong spirit and a great attitude. Dietary restrictions can be tough, but if you attack it with a lot of creativity, it can end up being a lot of fun. Eating and cooking have now become more of a joy than I would have ever imagined, mostly because I have to take more care and thought when it comes to food. I hope my adventures can be helpful to you and as always, please feel free to email me with any questions or advice of your own!

  3. Hi Sodium Girl! It was so great to actually meet you today! I think the photos are going to be great — I will definitely send them your way! Thanks for all of your help and willingness to be a part of this project. We’ll have to work on getting you that cape after all . . . ;o)

    Take care!

  4. Kelly

    I’m so excited to have found your blog! I also have autoimmune disease that has affected my kidneys and after neglecting my diet, I need to become better about eating a low sodium diet. I can’t wait to try out some of your recipes!

    • Hi Kelly! Welcome to the blog and I am so glad that you found it. I hope this recipes make your diet easier and more exciting. Let me know if you have any questions or tips!

  5. Don

    I luv your blog, Sodium Girl!

  6. Pingback: Hold Pls: Sodium Girl « Hold Pls

  7. Sally Estes

    I read about you in Arthritis Today. Thanks for sharing your blog! Are you on Facebook?

  8. Jacqueline

    This is an incredible story! I look forward to reading your posts…we could all use a little less salt in our lives.

  9. Savanna

    Dear Jessica,
    My name’s Savanna & I’m seventeen. I was diagnosed with kidney failure on September 20, 2009. I’ve been on dialysis Since november & I’ve had to face many obstacles. As soon as I read your story it was truly inspiring, it gave me confidence & faith. I believe as you did I can accept my disease & not let it control me. May God remain to be with you (:

    • Hi Savanna – so glad you found the blog and that your spirit sounds strong! You are definitely on the right path and I know that you will not let this disease stop you from anything. Let me know if you have any questions! I’m happy to share my experiences to make your journey just a little bit easier! Best – SG

  10. Cullen

    Great information – I’ve sent the site to a few friends who are wrestling with how to reduce/eliminate sodium from their diets due to health concerns.



  11. I was diagnosed with Lupus Nephritis and microscopic microangiitis in June of 2009. I managed to get my creatinine from 8.6 down to 4.0. When I went on a vegan diet I was able to push it down to 3.4, which is where I am now. Fortunately, I am not on dialysis.

    I notice that many of your recipes include meat. Were you always able to eat meat? My creatinine shot up every time I tried animal/fish protein. Can you give me any insight regarding meat and CFK?

    Your site is great and I love trying your recipes.

    • Hi Shoshana! I’m glad you are enjoying the recipes and that you are doing so well on your diet. I personally have not discovered a correlation between meat and my creatinine (although it is something I’ll be sure to watch for now!) Just remember every body (and everybody) is very different, whether it is salt or meat, so keep doing what works for you and working with your doc and diet to find that perfect balance. Thanks again for reading and keep the questions coming!

  12. Carrie

    I am so happy that I stumbled onto your blog! I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease 3 years ago. It is a inner ear problem that is affected by sodium. If I eat too much sodium, I have intense episodes of vertigo. it is not fun! I am happy to see so many great recipes on your site. I have had to totally change how I eat and it is great to see that I am not the only one living the low sodium life. Thanks!

  13. jessica

    hello i seen ur story as i was waiting for the doc the magazine i saw was in a heart book. i also have lupus and heart problems my kidneys failed last mouth and i depend on dialysis i really need help with a diet

  14. Cannot wait for your cookbook!

  15. kate

    I love your website! Despite being a fit 30-something, I have borderline hypertension that I am managing with diet. I know medication is in my future, but I would like to put it off as long as possible. I feel like none of my friends can relate to the challenges of a low sodium diet, and your blog has been a great resource to me for recipes and for reassurance that I am not alone.

  16. Shawna

    Thank goodness for this website! I suffered heart failure with the birth of my son in November 2010 – when I awoke from a coma, I was in the cardiac ICU and on a “cardiac diet” – a bland gross salt-free diet! I have been doing a lot of research to keep my sodium below 2,000 mg/day, per my cardiologist and my heart has improved DRAMATICALLY and much beyond my expectations thus far. The low-sodium lifestyle really is a challenge at times and it’s good to see the positive effects that it truly has.

    • Hi Shawna! Thank you so much for sharing your story and I am so glad you are finding this site helpful. Low sodium, salt-free food does not have to be bland or gross. Sure, it takes some extra work, but as you’ve discovered, it can be surprisingly fun. And delicious. I’m so glad to hear that your health is improving and I look forward to more good news on your end! Happy eating and living!

  17. I’ve been visiting your blog for a couple months, just because I like food — cooking it, eating it and writing about it. Last week, though, I had a blood pressure scare. Normally 116/70 … now I’m 152/88. Yikes!

    I’m going through your blog now with a finetoothed comb. I’ve never been one to salt anything, but also haven’t watched salt content in prepared foods. New world for me.

    Thanks for all you do!

  18. audree lytle

    I’ve had to cut my sodium lately as well due to high blood pressure. I’ve been driving my kids crazy reading labels! I’ve been blown away by the amount of sodium in food that I have never considered to be a sodium problem. All those grams add up really fast! I’m so excited to find a new resource to help me in my quest to make low sodium dishes! Thank you!

  19. Fendi

    I just discovered your blog, I love it! I have a huge passion for food/cooking & am also on a low sodium diet. I was born with a heart & lung defect, only in the past 3 years I have been strongly advised to go on a low sodium diet. It’s pretty tough because I love salty foods, lol. So I also try to reinvent recipes & make up my own to be low sodium. I can really relate to you & your blog. You’re a great writer, you make me laugh & inspire me. 🙂 Thanks, I look forward to reading more!

  20. I just discovered your blog!! My mother was very sick a few years ago and suffered end stage renal failure. She is on dialysis now and of course has to watch her sodium intake. I too try to watch what I eat as I suffer from Endomteriosis which can be effected by different foods. Thank you so much for sharing. I can’t wait to dive into the recipes!!!

  21. Hi there,

    Found your blog through other food blogs I found searching the new Google+. I sent you an invitation to join … in the hopes that I could point others to your your blog.
    I had a heart attack on 6/6/11 … in front of my wife, in the doctor’s office. Something I NEVER want to do again. Since then, my sodium intake had to be drastically reduced because I also have high blood pressure, AND I am a type 2 diabetic. You posts are witty, and the pictures and descriptions sound yummy (I have not tried any yet).
    Thanks you for putting yourself out there for the rest of us to enjoy !

    Mike in Tucson

  22. Hi,
    I just found your blog by reading a great article about you in BH&G. Can’t wait for your book too. My mom has managed to stay alive after a tough diagnosis of progressive kidney disease by eating low sodium. I have also inherited her sky-high blood pressure and am on heavy duty meds because of it. Of course, no doctor talked to me about losing some weight or cutting back on sodium. So I taking the plunge and the pledge to go to sodium free and/or low sodium to get a handle on this blood pressure thing.
    Thanks for all you do for those of us out here who need some guidance. Keep blogging!
    Ate social

  23. Hey, Jessica…I just came to your site after seeing you feature in BHG (I bet this will increase your traffic!). I was diagnosed with SLE and kidney involvement in 2006. Fortunately for me, I was diagnosed early due to wacky lab results for an exam for life insurance. I’ve been in remission for over 3 years now. I write about lupus on my blog occasionally and I’ll link to you in my next post. Nice to “meet” you!

    • Hi Kelley! Nice to meet you too and congrats on remission and for sharing your story with others! I’m so excited to have you a part of this community here and to help keep those kidneys in good shape!

  24. Deidre

    My sister died of Lupus at the age of 25. It makes me feel so good to see you survived this nasty disease, and are living a full life. Thanks so much for this blog. You are an inspiration.

    • Hello Deidre. I’m so sorry to hear about your sister and thank you for your kind notes. It sounds like you are quite the warrior yourself and I’m so honored to have your eyes on this blog!

  25. Courtney

    I’m so glad that I found this blog…a friend of mine just told me about it. I was also diagnosed with lupus nephritis and recently had a flare up. I’ve have been trying to follow a very low sodium diet, and so far so good.

  26. Sara

    Great blog sodium girl! My 2 year old is a transplant baby and we have to watch sodium intake and I love finding new sites. Do you know of any kid friendly low sodium sites?

  27. Sharon in San Francisco

    What a great find! I have the high blood pressure that so many of us suffer from and am always looking for good recipes. I found you while searching for something to do with the chicken that I took off of a carcass when I made stock.

  28. Jodeana

    My boyfriend has kidney disease and has diet restrictions as well. We do dialysis at home 6 days a week and we watch his sodium, potassium, and phosphorus. I understand your book is recipes for low sodium but I was wondering if any of the recipes would meet our criteria for low potassium and phosphorus as well. Thanks!

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