General Diet Plans and Questions - Completely flabergasted by the amount of salt I eat!




K8-EEE
08-31-2010, 11:52 PM
As a lifelong yo yo dieter I'm in the familiar category of "having tried it all." I've counted calories, fat grams, WW points, you name it. But having been stuck in the "last few pounds" file for, um, like five years I think I might have finally found the culprit: SALT!

After a week of a 1500 mg a day salt regime (for my blood pressure, not weight) I was astounded to lose 6 pounds in 10 days and my energy level and exercise capacity is noticeably improved. The best part? My BP is magically below the "borderline meds" level so if that keeps up my doc will lay off pushing the BP drugs.

If you are tempted to say "oh that's water weight," guess what? Water weight (as in retaining water) is really bad for your health, just like fat weight! And losing the "water weight" is what finally let me zip up jeans that haven't fit in 8 years.

The problem is, no lie, it's one of the hardest dietary changes I've ever made. For one thing a lot of "diet strategy" things I've done are salty! Piling mustard, pickled jalapenos, and low fat cheese on a sandwich doesn't add much calories but does add a TON of salt when added together. In fact a lot of diet choices have more sodium than their more "fattening" counterparts. The manufacturers must figure: take out the fat, put in more salt!

Some of my pantry staples (vegetarian Rosarita refried beans) are OUT OUT OUT....but I am still figuring out how to make low salt alternatives. I made some beans without any salt and all and they tasted like dirt!

Would love to hear from people who have been successful cutting some of the sodium out of their diet and any recipes or strategies you might want to share.

Thanks!


Suzanne 3FC
09-01-2010, 12:48 AM
I agree, the amount of salt in our food is frightening! The best way to handle that is by cooking everything from scratch so you have full control, but of course that's not always possible.

I was very surprised to learn how much sodium was in cottage cheese, of all things.

I cook dried beans the majority of the time. If I do buy canned, I rinse them well to remove as much sodium as possible. Actually I rinse them extremely well because I think the liquid they are packed in is icky, but it has the bonus of removing most of the sodium. You can't rinse refried beans, lol, but you can rinse pinto beans then prepare them yourself. Since you tried them completely unsalted and didn't care for them, you can add some salt to them just measure it so you know when to stop.

I've personally noticed most foods need less salt if I add it at the last minute, because I can taste it more that way. I don't know if that works for everyone, I've never asked :)

I also have never been one to add much salt to food that I cook. When I moved out on my own for the first time, I had to teach myself to cook and I didn't know that everyone added salt to most foods so I got used to eating food unsalted :) I eat most vegetables without a grain of salt added. In fact, I bought a box of salt last year for the first time since I moved into this house in the early 90s. It took me nearly 20 years to use up the first box.

Most of the change you are working on will involve retraining your taste for salt. You'll get used to it with time, experience, and patience :crossed:

That's pretty much all of the suggestions I have :lol: I cook almost everything from scratch. If I do resort to a prepared food that is high in sodium, I make up for it in my other meals for the day.

Vladadog
09-01-2010, 01:20 AM
How much sodium were you typically getting every day before you startd restricting it? I just went back through a couple weeks of "myplate" and I'm always under 3000 mgs a day and often around 2000. I am very seldom under 1500.

I haven't been focusing on sodium at all though; I can only tackle so many healthy lifestyle changes at a time! I know in the bad old days I used to get a lot more sodium since eating whole cans of pringles or bags of chips was a much too common experience.... So, in the scheme of things I'm doing "better" but I guess there's always room for improvement (about 65 pounds of room for me...)


K8-EEE
09-01-2010, 01:39 AM
OMG I used to routinely eat a cup of cottage cheese with a half cup of salsa for lunch....Right there over 1000 mg!! Fuggetabout the fact that even things I didn't think of as salt (cornflakes -- 220 mg, milk 140 mg) when you add them up they add up FAST! I'm the type of over-eater that tends to go salt. Can't resist another little slice of pizza; a dish of salted nuts (especially in conjunction with alcohol) is not safe around me, but a box of candy will get dusty and eventually be thrown out.

So, I really think salt affects some people they way sugar affects others.

K8-EEE
09-01-2010, 01:50 AM
Suzanne, thanks for suggestions. I have always cooked most of our meals but I have relied on a lot of pre-fab ingredients (mostly canned tomatoes, chilies, beans, salsa) which from now on are going to have to be prepared from scratch.

It's been pretty hit and miss so far. A couple of things are just as good or better (oatmeal from scratch: 0 mg, instant flavored oatmeal: 260 mg.) but a couple of things were spit-it-out bad (low sodium V8 -- blech!)

Suzanne 3FC
09-01-2010, 09:46 AM
Try Frog Ranch salsa if you have it in your area. Only 35mg sodium per serving. I thought I mentioned that in my post but I must have accidentally deleted it when I edited it to add something else in. I prefer fresh salsa, but for a salsa in a jar it's pretty darned good!

StephanieM
09-01-2010, 11:20 AM
I'm glad someone said something about this!

Salt is a big problem for me as well, it's the one thing I have trouble cutting back on and there is so much of it in my favourite foods. I'm thinking of tracking it now because I retain water often and my weight yo yo's all over the place.

Keep us updated :)

K8-EEE
09-01-2010, 02:47 PM
OMG I just looked up what I always get at Subway......holy sodium chloride, batman!!
Turns out the yummy "roasted garlic" bread, while being comparable in calories, has - wait for it! 1,320 grams of sodium for the 6 inch! GAK!

Then the jalapenos which I have them PILE ON.....has 70 "for 3 rings." 3 RINGS??? I HAVE MORE LIKE 30!

StephanieM
09-02-2010, 11:48 AM
This thread has gotten me looking at salt more. I can't believe how much salt there is in EVERYTHING :(

This is going to be hard, I'm going to have to start tracking more then just calories, protein, carbs and fat.

K8-EEE
09-02-2010, 01:38 PM
Stephanie,

As big of a drag as it is the thought of tracking one more thing -- I have to tell you I think this one was my "missing link" because even though I am now close to my goal I have not been able to get a handle on my blood pressure OR my weight...since I've tried to keep it under 1500 have been making steady progress on both, even though I sometimes make more caloric choices in favor of lower sodium.

It's actually kind of hard to overeat if you limit the salt. I'm constantly surprised at things that have a significant amount of sodium that aren't even salty tasting, and things I would think would be worse.

For instance, most flour tortillas have 220 mg but corn tortillas only have 5. So that's an easy switch. The real (yummy!) Parmesan Regiano grated cheese has only 30 mg - while a Diet Coke has 40! I gave up Diet Coke awhile back but man I used to POUND them!

I love spicy food so have started roasting my own jalapenos - 0 mg, vs. 350 for the canned. Canned anything is pretty much out.

The good news is my tastebuds have started adjusting - and my jeans are looser!

Nebuchadnezzar
10-17-2010, 09:29 AM
Ooogh, this thread makes me glad I'm finally figuring out how to use my salt substitute without gaaaaagging! Gargargle!

JayLei
10-17-2010, 01:42 PM
My go to bean mash "recipe"

pinto or black beans (cooked yourself or canned, rinsed like crazy)
chopped onion
a few tbslp salsa (fresh pico de gallo from the produce dept works great)
big shake of garlic powder
big shake of menudo seasoning (I get mine at the local Carniceria or the plain packet spices next to the chiles) makes it spicy!
a shot of low sodium chicken broth

toss it all in a saucepan with a lid on low and mash with a fork.

My fave way of eating this is on tostadas made with fresh corn tortillas toasted in the oven until crispy and topped with a pile of shaved cabbage and a little chicken boiled in water with the menudo seasoning.
Black bean version leftovers are delicious tossed in with a scrambled egg for breakfast.

popspry
10-17-2010, 02:05 PM
Canned tomatoes and broth is what kills me - especially because homemade broth takes a while to prepare and my grocery store never seems to have fresh tomatoes - in season or not.

katy trail
10-17-2010, 02:11 PM
you could make your own stock. that adds lots of flavor to beans and just about anything.
herbs add lots of flavor. no fat, almost no cal. i love basil!

katy trail
10-17-2010, 02:12 PM
why do i have to be #13?

K8-EEE
10-17-2010, 02:56 PM
Re: the beans, I've recently had some success cooking them in the crockpot but they need a LOOONG time. Like 20 hours! Like, I put them on after dinner and deal with them the NEXT dinner. But basically I use a mix of low-sodium veggie broth and water, with a couple of tablespoons of garlic, cumin, an onion cut in half, and a couple of fresh, whole jalapenos. Cook on low for forever then drain and mash, reserve a bit of liquid to fix up the consistency the way you like it. I love love love tostadas! One thing that I've started making about twice a week is my own salsa, it's easy and almost no sodium. Basically the low-so canned tomatoes, fresh cilantro, garlic, onion, jalapeno, salt sub. Give it a whirl in the blender or food processor, I make tacos out of almost everything since corn tortillas are so lo-so, any bits of fish or chicken I have left over become soft tacos with the lo-so salsa and fresh avocado slices.

My go to bean mash "recipe"

pinto or black beans (cooked yourself or canned, rinsed like crazy)
chopped onion
a few tbslp salsa (fresh pico de gallo from the produce dept works great)
big shake of garlic powder
big shake of menudo seasoning (I get mine at the local Carniceria or the plain packet spices next to the chiles) makes it spicy!
a shot of low sodium chicken broth

toss it all in a saucepan with a lid on low and mash with a fork.

My fave way of eating this is on tostadas made with fresh corn tortillas toasted in the oven until crispy and topped with a pile of shaved cabbage and a little chicken boiled in water with the menudo seasoning.
Black bean version leftovers are delicious tossed in with a scrambled egg for breakfast.

SeaWave
10-17-2010, 09:07 PM
Basically what Suzanne said upthread - keep control on sodium by cooking your own stuff, avoid processed foods, and keep an eye out on *everything*. I recently had one 10-inch tortilla = 880 mg salt! I aim to keep my salt intake between 500 and 1500 mg/day, and I feel it if I go over that. It can be done, but you might have to re-train your taste buds!

Sunshine73
10-17-2010, 10:21 PM
Salt is a huge issue for me. I was nearly paralyzed trying to figure out what to purchase that is low sodium, low calorie, low fat, etc.

I'm not much of a cook and not one to spend a lot of time whipping things up from scratch. I know I should but I also know that I probably won't. So right now I'm concentrating on calories, fat and carbs and trying to keep an eye on sodium but not freaking out about it too much. I'm afraid if I try to make too many sweeping changes all at once I'll just get frustrated with the whole process and give up because it will all seem so hopeless.

Hopefully once I get everything else under control I'll be able to work on lowering my sodium intake. :)

nickilaughs
10-18-2010, 12:58 AM
I think salt is a huge issue for everyone now. Anything that comes prepared has salt added to it. Drinks, snacks, canned anything, etc. I believe once the obesity epidemic starts to decrease that will be the next thing medical professionals will advise people to cut back on. People's BP seems to be just on the rise. Anything in any restaurant is loaded with tons of salt. I am sure I go way overboard, but as others said, one thing at a time. I believe the average person ingests 2-3x the recommended daily salt allowance.

tinycities
10-18-2010, 09:34 AM
I'm also really dreadful for eating masses of salt, and your post has inspired me to try to get it under control. I almost never eat processed or pre-prepared foods, but I just add tonnes of salt to my food when I am cooking.

Given the opportunity, I would add salt to things in a way that I was actually really ashamed of. For example, if I was having some toast with (salted) butter, I would actually crumble flakes of sea salt onto the buttered toast, to give it an extra salty flavour. I know this is awful because it's something I do in secret, and if people saw me they would be shocked. Also, anyone else had to do that "it's just coming out really slowly!" thing when you've been eating in public, and trying to pour salt on your food from a salt cellar and people have been looking at you in horror at how much you're adding?!

So yep, I seriously love salt and eat way too much. I do drink a lot of liquid, which to some extent mitigates problems with water retention, but it's still not good at all. I think I might start tracking salt (or at least measuring it out when I add it to things rather than just pouring it in) - I figure that would be a start, just to know the scale of the problem!

slimslim
11-16-2010, 12:31 PM
When the USDA revises the food pyramid next year, it is expected to reduce the recommended salt intake to just over HALF a teaspoon per day! You could easily overshoot your daily allowance with a single serving of processed food. Sneaky salt manages to find its way into everything you eat unless you cook it yourself. If you want help cutting down the salt in your diet, there is an article on Truth in Slimming with some very useful tips. Note that sodium can take many forms. Buyer beware!

VermontMom
11-16-2010, 10:02 PM
Given the opportunity, I would add salt to things in a way that I was actually really ashamed of. For example, if I was having some toast with (salted) butter, I would actually crumble flakes of sea salt onto the buttered toast, to give it an extra salty flavour. I know this is awful because it's something I do in secret, and if people saw me they would be shocked.

*gasp*!! I have found my secret salt soul sistah!! :rofl: Yes I have salted my toast.even when I also had salted butter on it! those extra flakes of kosher salt, yum...

GradPhase
11-16-2010, 10:24 PM
Oh man. I was JUST thinking about this today. I've been eating any and everything salty lately - and I gained 9+ lbs in ONE week. I was thinking, man - I should seriously up my water intake this week to flush all of this sodium out before the boyfriend gets back from his work trip. My pants don't fit, my rings don't fit. I freaking BALLOONED. And I was SURE it was all the salt. (and TOM, but definitely mostly salt).

Is coming down from so much sodium similar to coming down from a ton of sugar? Are there a lot of bad side affects to brace for? This seems like such an epiphany...

KenzideRhae
11-23-2010, 10:19 PM
I've struggled with pre-hypertension for a few years, so salt has always been something I try to be mindful of, but I never realised how much salt was in these until recently either! I stopped adding salt to the things I eat, and use potassium salt or other spices in its place, thinking that would be enough, but pretty much anything not made from scratch is loaded with it. The past few weeks, though, I've been actually paying attention the sodium in things and trying to stay under 1,500, and that is so so so much easier when I prepare most or all of my food myself. It's really been an eye opener, seeing how much sodium is in my favourite "healthy" soups/breads/etc.

tinycities, VermontMom: I totally used to do the same thing with my toast! I'd also individually salt each fry I ate, and mix it into the ketchup I dipped them in or used on my burgers as well. Or just dipped my finger in it and lick it off haha. My mom does things like that because she has really low blood pressure, but they are definitely not habits I wanted to keep up with XD

Eskinomad: It might be different for other people, but "coming down" off salt wasn't too bad for me, other than it takes time to get used to how things taste without it. Gradually using less salt and experimenting with other spices is really great for getting over that, though.

Krazy
11-24-2010, 02:31 AM
Lately I’ve been trying to keep my sodium count down, but it’s so hard. There seems to be a lot of sodium (over 500mg) in everything I eat.

steinanwine
12-03-2010, 09:48 PM
CRAP (and other swear words).

I am yet another over-salter. I too have been thinking more and more that I need to STOP adding salt to my food. I've gone about two days without adding any extra salt but I have NEVER looked at the amount of salt in my food. Literally NEVER.

I do not even know what a healthy mg of salt per day is! I was googling it and for some reason can't get a straight answer.

People seem to be saying here they are aiming for 1500 mg or less. Is that the recommended daily dose? I have a LOT of work to do to cut out salt.

Does anyone use salt substitutes? Or products like Salt Sense - I guess it has 30% less sodium than regular salt but is not a substitute.

I'm going to be so upset when I start looking at the salt on my nutrition labels!!

Kitsey
12-03-2010, 10:17 PM
Oh my....I'm a salt addict. I'm one of those who will salt my plate in the kitchen before bringing it to the table, so no one sees how much I use. I have a salt shaker specifically kept at my computer desk... doesn't matter what it is, ramen noodles, chinese food-salt, salt, salt! I imagine that most of the food I salt would be inedible to normal people. If there is salt left on my plate I'll press it onto my finger so I can have that too O_o