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Low Sodium Diet

  • 1.  Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-26-2020 10:33
    Anyone out there having trouble sticking to a  "low sodium" diet?

    Bill Tully
    tully & company
    Irving TX

  • 2.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-27-2020 03:43
    Hi Bill,

    I find it incredibly hard to stick to a low sodium diet, even though I have no problem whatsoever sticking to an otherwise healthy diet (lots of fish, particularly salmon, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, some fruit and nuts, occasional chicken, no junk food).  And I stay away from most sauces.  My only food vice is smoked salmon, which I have for breakfast on weekends.

    Despite this diet, and despite never adding salt, I frequently find that a lot of restaurant and already cooked store bought food tastes very salty.  Short of becoming a vegetarian or vegan, or going to a daily diet of sashimi, or only eating feed prepared at hone (very difficult for my lifestyle), I'm not sure what to do anymore.

    I welcome all suggestions.


    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ

  • 3.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-27-2020 10:52
    Thanks for the feedback.   I don't feel so alone, or as guilty when I cheat.  


  • 4.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-27-2020 11:22

    I wish that I felt that cheating was even a choice for me.  I literally cannot figure out what to eat that would truly be low salt unless I become a vegetarian/vegan, which I've started considering.  Of course, I suppose I could buy all my food at the nearest farms to the NYC metro area (I jest) or leave my family (again, I jest), who are committed urban dwellers, build a cabin in the back country in upstate NY (I know a thing or two about wilderness survival), eat off the land or whatever game I could hunt, and die alone in the woods when it's my time to go (which I actually consider a pretty good way to go).  Hell, if it was 150 years ago, I could just ride with the Sioux.

    Instead, I'm a medically controlled hypertensive lawyer at a big international law firm, living in a major metro area with five new blood vessels passing as new coronary arteries for a battered heart and who, when I die, may end up with a brain preserved in a jar with electrodes like the tycoon in the 1950's scifi film Donovan's Brain (starring Lew Ayres and costarring Nancy Reagan).


    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ

  • 5.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-28-2020 08:42
    Low salt folks,

    I share your goals and concerns. I have the advantage of having a wife who is an excellent chef willing to try different approaches to a healthy diet. Post surgery as we ate at home, for convenience since I was so feeble and she had a time consuming stressful job, she experimented with replacing salt with natural spices. I discovered new taste sensations and now we almost never use even sea salt.

    Restaurants are tough. I stopped automatically reaching for the salt by telling myself that I should taste it first since the chefs (on shows like Masterchef) automatically use it liberally, particularly on meats. It is an uphill battle to try and become an exception. I believe that the food for fast food restaurants is already pre-salted. Interestingly, when my children were young they wanted MacDonalds burgers without any toppings: they tasted like cardboard. We use mustard, pickles, onions and lettuce, but rarely ketchup (loaded with sugar) or mayonnaise. I watch the revenue of Kraft-Heinz decline as healthy eating increase although this trend is refuted by the significant increase in the statistics of over weight and obese persons.     

    We are retired and rarely go to even the restaurants within short walking distance, partly because the salt problem is insolvable. We fortunately live close to Whole Foods (great natural spices) and Trader Joes. In restaurants, for variety (we eat mostly fish and chicken at home), having watched busy kitchens, I gave up ordering low, or no, salt.  I never reach for salt, eat smaller portions and enjoy Souci. Disappointingly, I find Mexican food particularly salty.

    My still use salt, but less of it, on hard boiled eggs, French Fries and tomatoes.  

    Sorry I don not have better advice for restaurants.

    Brent Zepke
    Author "One Heart-Two Lives: Managing Your Rehabilitation Program WELL."         

  • 6.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-28-2020 09:23
    Good morning Brent, 

    At one time I weighed in at 300 pounds, getting down to my
    now target weight of 150 has been quite a trip, and I just read in the paper that almost 50 percent of Americans are now overweight.

    I made up my own diet and have stuck with it since the 80's,
    but when I had my OHS 6 months ago, I was forced to eat 
    Hospital Food that was unpalatable and tasteless.  
    I stopped eating which threw my doctor and staff into a panic, 
    but the stomach pains were so severe from the hospital rations
    that I could not eat their diet.

    Doctor started bringing me a protein shake in for me when he
    did his rounds and within a few days my family was bringing in the shakes also for me, and soon my family was bringing in the food I could actually eat and enjoy, but we had to do that on the sneak, my husband who loves all kinds of food, would eat my hospital food and bring me chicken breasts .  

    Once I did get home, I had to have 1 or 2 of everything  that was
    not good for me.  I even had my husband pick up Popeyes Chicken, and it tasted so good but I have never been back now to order it again.

    I have now purchased a WOK and stir fry is now my passion, I don't use any of the Asian sauces, unless they are less then 250 mg of salt per serving, and I stick with natural WOK ingredients like veggies, asian noodles and chicken in Olive oil

    I also purchased a Air Fryer and do not salt any of the 
    foods I put in there.

    It is all a learning curve and does take more time to cook healthy and smart.  I wish we had a whole foods, our closest is in Milwaukee Wis about 100 miles away, but we are pushing for one here in the heartland .  That would be awesome

    Thank you so much Brent, Hope you have a wonderful day


  • 7.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-28-2020 09:25

    The funny thing, Brent, and all, is that I don't like salt and I am not tempted by it (or any other spice) in the least.  In fact, I find the taste of salt repugnant generally and the only time I tolerate it is with smoked salmon.  Salt is my green eggs and ham.  The problem is that, unless I cook from scratch in my own kitchen, or get lucky and/or very selective purchasing food at restaurants or prepared foods at supermarkets, or eat only vegetables, I know the food is salted.

    Last month, I came down with a wicked case of sciatica from foolishly overdoing "bear crawls" indoors for cardio one rainy morning.  I was homebound for two weeks, ate the same amount as I eat normally while working and, obviously, got almost zero exercise.  I nevertheless lost three pounds.  When I returned to work the following week, and returned to full activities at the gym, and eating my lunches at area restaurants,I regained the three pounds in a few days, even though I wasn't eating any more than when I was incapacitated.  My conclusion:  the three pounds were water weight related to hidden salt consumption.

    This, in short, is the problem, and I increasingly am coming to the view, but am not there yet, that I need to become a vegetarian.  Either that or eat the way our ancestors ate before the advent of processed foods and additives (impossible, I submit, unless you live on a farm or in a primitive society, and probably why the obesity rate in our country is reportedly 40%).


    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ

  • 8.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-28-2020 10:00

    Many people find that low sodium diets "just have no taste", and they are often right. We have a couple in our Chapter #61 (Dayton OH), Mike and Jeannine Diano, who were on a low sodium diet. Mike started baking peppers, then ground them up and mixed them to make his own spices. Eventually Mike and Jeannine started selling their spices (called Big Axe Spices because Mike said he had a big axe to grind with sodium), and they now sell on Amazon as well as some grocery stores. They have a range of about a dozen flavors from mild to wild, and they are all "no salt" as well as vegan, kosher, and meet several other standards. Great on popcorn, salads, and all kinds of foods.


    Other than that, I find that if I stick to fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and hard cheese (although goat cheese is soft but low in sodium), you can have a healthy and tasty diet. I bake my own bread because most low sodium bread tastes like cardboard. I found the recipe in "The No-Salt, Lowest Sodium Cookbook" by Donald A Gazzaniga.


    Restaurant food is a problem, often heavily salted.  A visiting nurse told me to remove the top half of sandwich buns and eat the sandwich as an open-face sandwich to reduce the sodium.


    I hope this sparks a few ideas. Eat well.


    Ray Steck, VP, MH Chapter 61

  • 9.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-27-2020 07:12
    I sure am. I'm not the salt fiend that my hypertensive mother was, but it's always been my weakness. I use very few packaged foods - so many of them are overloaded with sodium - but when I started paying attention to the sodium levels in my food, I was dismayed to find it hidden in all sorts of "healthy" foods, like cottage cheese. And it's very hard to ignore the salt shaker when I sit down to a meal. 

    So I asked a hypertensive friend for advice, and she turned me on to 2 salt substitutes"No Salt sodium-free salt, and Lo Salt, which is salt containing 66% less sodium than regular salt. Lo Salt is a British product and if you can't find it locally, you can get it on Amazon. I use No Salt in cooking and Lo Salt at the dining table.

  • 10.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-27-2020 08:53
    Heck yes, especially me....

    Never ever liked salt before, potato chips, nope, snacks, nope, did not even own a salt shaker, but since my OHS I am addicted to this devil, searching out the saltiest foods I can think of.

    I asked my nurses during rehab why this is happening and they said it may be the new medications I was prescribed after OHS.  

    After 6 months now, the cravings are getting better, but I did notice that while prepping for the possibility of the Coronovirus,  6 bags of potato chips have found their way into my kitchen cupboards....

    I feel like a bad dog, and I know processed salty foods are not good, but cannot explain the reason why after 50 years, I love the salt...


  • 11.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-27-2020 10:03

                  It can be done. And that's speaking as a guy whose Three Basic Food Groups had been Pickles, Pretzels and Pastrami.

    Bob Levin


    Sent from Mail for Windows 10


  • 12.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-27-2020 10:20
    ​I have a more basic question.  Does a low sodium diet even exist in this country short of one becoming vegan, vegetarian or macrobiotic?  If so, please educate me.  Everything I eat in restaurants or obtain prepared at supermarkets (I don't have the luxury of eating home cooked meals often) seems as though it is loaded with sodium, even supposedly healthy foods.

    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ

  • 13.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-27-2020 11:09

    I'm able to keep between 1500-1800mg/day for the most part, but it did mean cutting out a lot of foods I used to eat, and changing a lot of others. I didn't have to go full vegetarian, but...almost? I still eat chicken (grilled, breast, no skin) and fish (tuna, low sodium), and even the occasional burger. But I eat a lot of veg and fruit cuz they're mostly negligible in terms of sodium. I do eat some prepared foods, too, because at NYHA Stage IV, I don't have the energy to do much prep work.

    Trader Joe's has some good frozen meals I like that are low enough sodium to work into my diet: the cauliflower bowl, paneer tikka masala, pad thai, etc. TJ's has prepared grilled chicken that's fairly low sodium, so I buy that to add to their frozen, microwavable rice packets, along with some roasted veg (the kind that comes in a bag of carrots, cauliflower, broccoli at the market? Just spray with olive oil, pop in oven for 45minutes) and toss with Yumm Sauce. Instant dinner.

    I've even found that at Taco Bell, the shredded chicken burrito is fairly low sodium, so it hits the craving for fast food that hits occasionally. I hardly eat out at all anymore, but very occasionally, if I do, I try to ask for no added salt, and I go for baked or grilled, not fried, options. I don't eat bread (except for a 21 seed, thinly sliced organic sandwich bread for tuna; 65mg/slice) or cheese or sauces (aside from Yumm.)

    Ice cream is low sodium. It's become my one real indulgence.

    The diet is doable, it just takes a good deal of label reading, willingness to change, and seeing what substitutions are available. Feel free to ask me for clharifications.

    Rachel McGonagill

  • 14.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-27-2020 11:25
    Thank you, Rachel.  That was most helpful, and there is a Trader Joe's nor far from my home.

    Best to you,


    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ

  • 15.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-27-2020 12:13
    Thank you Robert Levin....

    I love smoked processed meats now too along with pickles
    which I pass by really fast in the food aisles of my grocery

    I do look at everything I buy for sodium values and was so surprised to see some favs I had pre surgery are loaded with over 1000 mg of sodium for 1 serving...And I have never been a 1 serving lady...

    So perhaps after reading all your replies, I was eating more salt then I even imagined, I even saw that Healthy Choice Meals have more sodium then I am comfortable buying now.

    Thank you so much for this thread


  • 16.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-27-2020 12:27

                   I couldn't've done it with out my wife. She has found low sodium bread, low sodium tuna, and low sodium cheese. But, yeah, most restaurants prepare food with too much salt and most packaged food is loaded. You have to keep an eye out – and being an obsessive has it's good points. I can honestly say that within a relatively short time, I didn't give it a second thought. I haven't had a pretzel in about a decade and I used to think nothing of snacking on an entire bag of them, the saltier the better.

    Bob Levin

    Co-author, with Adele Le vin, of "I Will Keep You Alive: A Cardiovascular Romance"


    Sent from Mail for Windows 10


  • 17.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-27-2020 11:14
    I have found it easy to ask at any restaurant to ask the staff to not add additional salt while cooking my order. It does not eliminate the salt that has been added during processing but it does help. Even Denny's staff are more than willing to leave off added salt.
    I also use a salt substitute while cooking at home. I am lucky enough not to have issues with potassium. Also, Mrs. Dash really allows me to cook and BBQ due to the variety of flavors available. 
    Garlic powder and onion powder allow me to get the cravings under control and still have the tastes I want. 
    I use only unsalted butter now and have not suffered for it. 
    Yes, I am still having trouble finding things I really like without added salt, but these things make it easier. 
    I make tomato soup at home with tomato paste now instead of the canned soups. The paste is available unsalted. 
    I am half Italian and I am not going to give up CHEESE. but I try to cut back on salts where I can. I hope this gives you some ideas on where you can cut back without giving up flavor.

    Richard Short
    Chapter 395

  • 18.  RE: Low Sodium Diet

    Posted 02-27-2020 11:28
    ​Thank you, Richard, for these excellent ideas.


    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ