Taken Without a Grain of Salt

It seems there’s a critical age when each New Year adds another medical specialist. My husband, for one, has just acquired a new “ologist,” whose expertise has further complicated our lives. For longevity’s sake, we already practice a low-fat, low-carb, Paleo, Mediterranean, don’t-eat-white-foods lifestyle. Mostly. But if we wanted to extend our time on Golden Pond, this new doctor urged my darling to significantly reduce his salt intake.

Eager to be supportive, I purged pantry and frig of all offending foods. Out went the
ketchup, soy sauce, crackers, and the can of mixed nuts. Even benign cottage cheese was now a potential killer. Ever read the sodium content on packaged bread items? Positively
terrifying! And the pancake mix? There’s enough salt content to keep you afloat even if you can’t swim.

Then it was off to the supermarket to replace said items. With my most powerful pair of reading glasses on, I examined the fine print on jars, bottles, cans, and loaves. I
was heavily into condiments when my cell phone rang. It was him, reminding me I’d been gone for almost three hours. I promised I’d be home as soon as I finished researching the dairy aisle.

The new reality is that more home cooking is in order. I don’t mind preparing pasta sauce, soup, or salad dressing, but baking my own bread? Sorry, but my pioneer instincts stretch only so far. Surely there’s a salt-free loaf wrapped in plastic and sealed with a twist tie.

Success was mine at the local health food store. I decided to sample a slice, which was a tad tastier than a piece of cardboard. My search would have to continue.

salt intake restricted

Dining in is one thing when your diet is restricted, but dining out is quite another. And for better or worse, recreational eating is
a major part of our social life, particularly
during winter when returning to Florida involves dinners with friends not seen in many
months. Now, added to requirements for an acceptable restaurant (which include proper
chair comfort, noise level, and air temperature), I will have to ask, “Will the chef agree to cook
our food without salt?”

We are adjusting, gradually. I’m
learning that sodium-free, low sodium, reduced-sodium, light sodium, don’t all mean the same thing. I’m beginning to enjoy our salt-less peanut butter, and the memory of that awful bread is slowly fading. My husband is benefiting from our healthier, though somewhat blander, diet.

Maybe shaking the salt habit won’t be too hard after all. And our lease on Golden Pond may
be extended for a few more low sodium years.

Susan Goldfein holds a doctorate in Communication Disorders from Teachers
College, Columbia University, and enjoyed a successful career as a clinician,
teacher, and consultant. For more essays filled with wit, wisdom and irony,
visit Susan’s blog, www.susansunfilteredwit.com. Her book, How Old Am I in Dog
Years? may be purchased on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com
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