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Taken Without a Grain of Salt

It seems to me there’s a critical age at which each time you add another candle to your cake, you also add another health care practitioner.  If I reviewed my count of medical specialists, let’s say, at age 35, the list might just fit on the head of a pin.  And now, I believe I’d need to inscribe said list on something at least as round as a family-sized pizza!

What brings this to the forefront at this particular time, is not my own cadre of doctors, but my husband’s.  His personal list now includes a brand new “ologist,” an otherwise lovely man who has further complicated our lives.  In the interest of longevity, we already practice a low-fat, low-carb, low-gluten, Paleo, Mediterranean, don’t-eat-white-foods life style. Mostly.  With some exceptions.  But if we wanted to enjoy even more time on Golden Pond, this new doc on the block strongly recommended that my husband significantly reduce his salt intake.

Eliminating salt from one’s diet may not sound like a big deal.  It’s seemingly simple.  When eating your scrambled eggs whites, don’t pick up the salt shaker.   Or order a side of bacon.  Ever.  Or make pancakes from one’s favorite healthy pancake mix, because the salt content is enough to keep you afloat even if you can’t swim.

While salt has not been restricted from my diet, at least not yet, what else can a supportive wife do but join her husband on his low sodium journey?

Step One was to search the pantry and refrigerator for offending foods.  Out went the ketchup (organic), the soy sauce, the crackers, and the can of mixed nuts.   Even something as benign as cottage cheese was now a potential killer.  Ever read the sodium content on packaged bread items? Positively terrifying!  Life moving forward would definitely be a challenge.

Step Two was a trip to the supermarket to begin the reeducation process.  Reading glasses in hand, I pushed my cart up and down the aisles, lifting jars, bottles, cans, and loaves, reading the fine print, and trying to replace my discarded groceries with sodium-free or low-sodium substitutes.    I was heavily into condiments when my cell phone rang.  It was my husband reminding me that I had been gone for almost three hours.  I assured him I’d be home as soon as I finished researching the dairy aisle.

The new reality was that more home cooking was in order.  And I certainly don’t mind cooking up a pot of pasta sauce or soup from scratch.  Or sprinkling a salad with home-made dressing, sans salt.  But baking my own bread? Sorry, but my pioneer instincts stretch only so far.

Therefore, Step Three of the new program was a search for a salt-free bread that came wrapped in plastic and sealed with a twist tie.  Success was achieved at my local health food store.  There I discovered, in the back of a freezer, a loaf of sliced bread that promised to be my alternative to an acquaintance with yeast.  I gasped at the price tag, but, hey, what’s a few extra dollars where health is concerned? This baby was coming home with me.

Anxious to sample a piece before I introduced it to my husband, I removed a frozen slice and placed it in the toaster.  When it was sufficiently warm, I took my first bite.

Have you ever considered smearing butter and jam on the cardboard shipping box containing your latest Amazon delivery? I guarantee you that it couldn’t taste much worse than what I was attempting to swallow.    The rest of the loaf was immediately discarded, along with the dollars I had just spent.  Clearly, my search for a healthy, leavened substitute was not over.

Eating at home is one thing when your diet is restricted, but dining in a restaurant is quite another.  And for better or worse, recreational eating has become a major part of our social life.  This is particularly true during the winter months, when life in Florida involves reuniting over dinner with friends we haven’t seen in nearly half a year.

Now, added to the requirements for an acceptable restaurant, i.e., location, chair comfort, noise level lower than a subway station, air temperature that does not require a fur jacket, is – will the chef agree to cook your food without salt? The last thing you want when you’re out for a pleasant evening is the wrath of the person in the toque because you requested that he or she put the sauce on the side.

So, gradually, we are adjusting.  I’m becoming a very discerning label-reader, with a newly acquired recognition that sodium-free, low-sodium, reduced-sodium, light sodium, don’t all mean the same thing.  I’m actually beginning to enjoy salt-less peanut butter, and the memory of that awful bread is slowly fading.  Fortunately, I did locate an acceptable substitute, a mere 45-minute drive from our home!

And it’s working.  My husband is experiencing positive effects from our new, healthier, though somewhat blander, diet.    And the lease on Golden Pond might just be renewed for a few additional, (gulp!) salt-free years.

By | 2018-11-15T14:43:29+00:00 November 15th, 2018|Categories: Aging, Diet|14 Comments

About the Author:

Born and raised in New York City, Susan currently splits her time between Florida and Connecticut. She lives with her husband, and the world’s cutest dog, Sam, a rough-coat Russell Terrier. Susan gives her audiences a sideways view of life on a range of relatable topics. Whether skewering marriage, growing older, fashion, the media, politics, or money matters, her light touch keeps people laughing – and thinking.

14 Comments

  1. Adrienne M Halpert November 15, 2018 at 3:11 pm - Reply

  2. gail November 15, 2018 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    been there, done that…..have you looked at canned soup? – might as well swallow the whole salt shaker and get it over with!

  3. Suzanne Chait-Magenheim November 15, 2018 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    Love the humor of the Amazon cardboard comparison!
    Deciding whether to share this with my husband who wants to gain weight as he thinks he lost too much so there’s probably no solution there on any market! As usual, can identify!

  4. Carol Makofsky November 15, 2018 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    Have you tried Mrs. Dash seasoning? It comes in several salt-free versions that are quite tasty. I also use a heavy hand with garlic powder and onion powder. As for eating out …. that’s another story!

  5. Suzanne Chait-Magenheim November 15, 2018 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    Love the humor of the Amazon cardboard box! The advice also given to my husband is even more difficult for him because he thinks he lost too much weight! And for me- why didn’t I enjoy eating as much as I do now, when I was a skinny child?!

  6. jane z November 15, 2018 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    Loved your descriptions and searches for good tasting saltless food. We all know important cutting back on salt is and we think we are doing it just because we don’t salt our eggs or tomatoes. NO to that!! Keep the advice coming

  7. Lynn Tepper November 15, 2018 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    I dont want to sound like like the serious gerontologist/ gerontology professor that you knew back when, but…..I’d like to add some science-based commentary here. If you dont need to lower or eliminate your salt intake, DONT! Most of us need some salt in out diets for many reasons, one of which (oddly enough) is our heart. and other organs as well. Another suggestion is that you purchase potassium salt – or “NO SALT” which is a terrific salt substitute made from potassium (also good for us aging folks!), not the salt that may be contra-indicated. The MRS DASH seasoning suggested by Carol is fantastic – so please dont give up hope, only your husband’s salt! Your ol’ prof, Dr Lynn

    • Susan Goldfein November 30, 2018 at 4:52 pm - Reply

      Sorry for the late reply, but appreciate your words. We were warned off the salt substitute because excess potassium is not great if you have a heart condition. I tried it and thought it tasted weird – like eating metal. Anyway, he’s managing and I’ve become a secret sprinkler!

  8. Nancy Berkley November 15, 2018 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    Love the cardboard box also!! You have a fan here at Frenchman’s who also writes and would like to meet with you. (I’m coming along). I’ll call after Thanksgiving and see if we can set something up. Thought the last PBDramaworks was superb!! Very happy with the way the education initiative is turning out. So…. now I have my tale to tell about blogging about women’s golf… not really a blog… I guess more like op-eds. Going to Naples, FLorida tomorrow for the last tournament of the LPGA Tour season and will have something to say about that! Regards to salt-free husband — aka Larry..
    Fondly,
    Nancy Berkley nmberkley@aol.com

    • Susan Goldfein November 30, 2018 at 4:49 pm - Reply

      Would love to meet and look forward to hearing from you now that it’s after Thanksgiving and on to the next holiday!

  9. Leslie in Oregon November 16, 2018 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Courage! About ten years ago, I started the process of retraining my taste buds, which always had loved salt, to be happy without it. I found it surprisingly easy to replace salt with herbs, spices and/or black pepper. Eating in restaurants took a hit, as we found that most cooks and chefs continued to regard added salt as essential to their offerings. We had to stop eating processed foods because of their added salt (and sugars). All and all, though, it proved to be much easier than anticipated to transition away from salt. That process was just about complete when the lay press started publishing articles proclaiming that salt did not pose the general dangers to human health that the medical community had previously thought. 😉

    • Susan Goldfein November 30, 2018 at 4:47 pm - Reply

      Live long enough and everything that was bad for you becomes good again!

  10. Judith Czubati November 30, 2018 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    Understand this subject very much…my husband is more careful about his salt content …at least on foods at home. We all know that eating out means “anything goes”! I have discovered the joys of Maldon Sea Salt Flakes…and I love to take a pinch out of my cute little Salt Pig…and sprinkle this on way too many items. My little Evil Treat.

    • Susan Goldfein November 30, 2018 at 4:46 pm - Reply

      I also admit to sneaking salt on my plate before bringing it to the table! Being supportive goes only so far.

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