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Completely flabergasted by the amount of salt I eat!

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Old 08-31-2010, 10:52 PM   #1
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Default Completely flabergasted by the amount of salt I eat!

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!
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Old 08-31-2010, 11:48 PM   #2
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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

That's pretty much all of the suggestions I have 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.
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Old 09-01-2010, 12:20 AM   #3
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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...)
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Old 09-01-2010, 12:39 AM   #4
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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.
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Old 09-01-2010, 12:50 AM   #5
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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!)
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Old 09-01-2010, 08:46 AM   #6
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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!
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Old 09-01-2010, 10:20 AM   #7
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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
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Old 09-01-2010, 01:47 PM   #8
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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!
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Old 09-02-2010, 10:48 AM   #9
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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.
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Old 09-02-2010, 12:38 PM   #10
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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!
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:29 AM   #11
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Ooogh, this thread makes me glad I'm finally figuring out how to use my salt substitute without gaaaaagging! Gargargle!
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Old 10-17-2010, 12:42 PM   #12
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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.
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Old 10-17-2010, 01:05 PM   #13
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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.
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Old 10-17-2010, 01:11 PM   #14
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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!
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Old 10-17-2010, 01:12 PM   #15
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why do i have to be #13?
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