We are in a time of detox around this house. While I have always been somewhat conscious of food labels and nutritional values, I have to say I have never paid close attention to the sodium content. Until this summer when I took a good look at how we were eating and how I was seasoning and preparing foods for my family. I have taken health and wellness classes in high school and college so I wasn’t starting at ground zero – or so I thought.
My blood pressure has always been under the standard 120/80, even when I was pregnant, so I felt confident that I wasn’t in need of reducing my sodium intake. Until I started noticing that I was inching closer to those numbers. Another recommendation is to lay off the caffeine, so I bid adieu to Mr. Coffee, tucking his cord back in the storage compartment I once thought laughable – who would need to store a coffee maker? Shouldn’t it be on call 24 hours a day like all emergency responders?! I miss coffee.
While blood pressure is one measure of how your body is functioning, it wasn’t the only thing on my radar. I have been feeling sluggish and puffy (never a good combination) and I noticed that when I ate “cleaner” I wasn’t getting results – I might lose a pound or two but I was hanging on to weight in a way that I hadn’t before. Again, I know there is a delicate balance of hormones and metabolic factors and even sigh, my age, which comes into play here. I noticed that I used to easily pass on salty and savory foods, much preferring sweets, but recently, I gravitated toward salty and saltier both in snacks and in preparing meals. I also noticed our daughters’ snack requests for pickles, olives, salsas and other salt laden foods.
The new month brought the vigor that I needed to try something radical in our house. We were going to modify our salt intake for thirty days and see if we felt better. Up until now we have always said you can do anything for a month! Oh how quickly a month flies by! We also said other nonsense that I used to believe.
Guess what is moderately high in salt? Everything delicious. Now you could point me in the direction of fresh produce, which I whole heartedly agree is delicious. An apple has about 2mg of sodium, you might suggest. You know what tastes amazing with an apple? A thin slice of parmesan cheese (433 mg for an ounce). Salads, you say? Yes of course, I prefer mine with olives, (24 mg per small olive) pepperoncini’s (400 mg for three), (my mouth is actually watering right now), cheese (varies, but let’s stick with shaved parm at 433 mg per ounce), croutons (200 mg for an ounce) and dressing (prepared vinaigrettes are my favorite, so 230 – 500 mg for 2 tablespoons). That is a vegetarian salad of “recommended” portions, servings that I have never adhered to. The ante is upped considerably when I make it with tuna, turkey, ham or bacon. An Italian cold cut salad should have killed me by all estimations.
I realize how incredibly blessed I am to have access to and the means to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables as well as clean drinking water in a world where many people don’t. So I easily limit how sorry I feel for myself under this self-imposed change. However we are five days in and I feel very limited. Almost anything canned is out. Make that almost anything prepared or packaged.
Breakfast has been the least challenging. There are many good options in cereals, which are universally liked in our house. Fresh fruit is an easy fast food option as are hard boiled eggs – but I have to say, I used to sprinkle them with salt. I am fine with low sodium sprouted bread and I found a few wraps that fit the bill, but my other three family members would rather skip it entirely. I have added salt free peanut butter to the pantry – we will see how it goes in the Thai chicken flat bread pizzas I am making tonight for dinner…
Lunch has mostly been salads, although yesterday I made spicy chicken in a cast iron skillet (it was raining so I couldn’t grill) alongside a plain baked potato with homemade salt free salsa. I can tell you that compared to that, today my veggie salad (though beautiful in color, sliced and composed perfectly by husband) felt to me somewhere just short of a punishment. Which seems ridiculous but that is how I saw it.
Last night I made hamburgers on mixed greens with a ginger sesame cole slaw and it felt like heaven. It far surpassed the shredded carrot meatloaves I rang the plan in with. We will see how the pizzas work out tonight.
Eating makes me happy. I am not sure what that says about me but it is true. I need to find a balance between getting the good in and leaving the bad out while still enjoying mealtime. I am hopeful that with time and practice I will be able to do both. If you have any tips or tricks to help me out that would be great. I need to catch a quick nap before dinner – it’s amazing how tired you get when you don’t rely on a steady drip of caffeine. Hmmmmm, coffee…