WTF sodium?!

I'm trying to watch my sodium intake, and I think that I can't get the fact that sodium is almost everywhere. I try to eat good food (I cook almost everything we eat, but I also rely a on little number of "processed" favorites, like sprouted grains bread and artisan cheese), and still, everytime I want to cook something tasty, with really bold flavors, my sodium intake jumps. A little hot sauce there (putting 1/4 cup of Frank's Red Hot sauce on some cauliflower to eat them "buffalo style" was the worst idea ever), a little soy sauce there, and bam! I'm over my 2500mg goal. And I just don't want to think about that thai fish sauce because, OMG, it's so good in my tofu pad thai but it's like 1300 mg of sodium for a tablespoon!

I have a culinary school training background and what we learn in school is that everything needs to be seasonned carefully, and by that, they mean that you have to put a lot of salt in everything (really!). I try to get rid of the table salt, but it seems like virtually everything is full of sodium (bread, cheese, spinach, beets... really, spinach and beets!?). So... is it really possible to cook interesting and scrumptious food without all the sodium? I can eat anything healthy as long as it's not boring, but I will never get acustomed to "plain" food, healthy or not.

What can I do?

Replies

  • NaomiJFoster
    NaomiJFoster Posts: 1,451 Member
    Table salt is actually supposed to be a better way to go. The amount of salt you use when you sprinkle it on top from the salt shaker is minimal. It's the sodium that's already in processed foods that is the danger. However, it's really only a danger if you have cardiac problems or if the doctor has told you to reduce sodium. Personally, I think I only have one or two days a week that I'm 'under' my sodium goal. It's just not very easy to do.
  • MoreBean13
    MoreBean13 Posts: 8,702 Member
    You can increase your potassium intake, it counterbalances sodium. Assuming you're not on any medications that make potassium dangerous, you can find potassium as "No Salt" or "Salt Substitute" in the spice aisle of the grocery store.
  • andeey
    andeey Posts: 709 Member
    Do you medically need to watch the sodium, or is it just a preference?

    I ask because I was fanatical about cutting out sodium as much as possible and later had blood work done where I was informed by my doctor that I had "low sodium" results! The combination of my cutting salt out, sweating a ton during exercising and drinking a load of water every day meant my body went into the opposite direction. Just something to think about so you don't tip the scales too far the other way.

    As for what to do to cut sodium, see above! Obviously, drinking more water and sweating the salt out of your system helps to get rid of excess sodium and so the level you see in your diary might actually be more balanced out than you think.
  • DaivaSimone
    DaivaSimone Posts: 657 Member
    I watch sodium because all my macros are ok, so I probably need to obsess about something... ;)

    Joking aside, I think that I may be sensible to water retention and if I don't necessarly feel bloated when I had to much sodium, I'm seeing it almost instantly on the scale. Sometimes, it can be pretty decouraging, so I try to watch this. Also, my mother as an history of high blood pressure, so I may be at risk too.

    I'm gonna read more about this potassium thing. I think that the only food I know that is rich in potassium is banana. I may need a little knowledge about this.

    Thanks for all your insights.
  • MinimalistShoeAddict
    MinimalistShoeAddict Posts: 1,958 Member
    I recommend reading this article:

    http://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-runners/pass-salt?page=single

    I have to work hard to get enough salt to replace what I lose while running. Another alternative to reducing sodium is to exercise more!
  • Sashoi
    Sashoi Posts: 295 Member
    I don't cook with salt never have but I cook with spices. So my food always have flavor but I don't use hot sauce I make my own pepper sauce out if fesh scotch bonnet peppers n vinegar best thing ever. I'm usually under my sodium but I go over when ever I eat food out.
  • MoreBean13
    MoreBean13 Posts: 8,702 Member
    I recommend reading this article:

    http://www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-runners/pass-salt?page=single

    I have to work hard to get enough salt to replace what I lose while running. Another alternative to reducing sodium is to exercise more!

    Great article!
  • ovhenderson
    ovhenderson Posts: 13 Member
    it can take years to change your taste buds. If you're a chef, then it will most likely be a lifelong struggle for you, since you'll be cooking to satisfy the palate of others. I personally often find it difficult to eat out a lot, because I find that the food is too salty for me. It taste well seasoned to everyone else though lol.

    I actually had some Doritos the other day, and I hadn't had Doritos in YEARS. I used to LOVE Doritos, but when I ate them recently they tasted like salty fake cheese chemical crispy nachos lol. It was horrible, and I tried to make myself like them again, because it was too much lol.
  • wolfchild59
    wolfchild59 Posts: 2,608 Member
    As a general note (not to the OP, since I'm sure she knows this already) - Salt, when used in cooking, isn't to salt the food. Salt brings out the natural flavors of food and increases their vibrancy in the dish. So you don't want to stop using salt when you cook.

    Yes, using different spices to bring flavors to the dish instead of salted seasonings is a good way to reduce sodium on the dish as a whole. But those spices can't replace the salt that should be being used just as the basic cooking ingredient. Trust me, if you make pasta cooked in unsalted water and then pasta that has been cooked in properly salted water, you wouldn't believe how good just the plain pasta cooked in the salted water will taste compared to the plain pasta in the unsalted water. You will taste the layers of flavor in the pasta itself, you aren't going to taste the salt. Meanwhile, the unsalted one will just taste very blah and single note.

    But, when cooking, it requires balance. So if you want to use fish sauce or soy sauce, use that as your salt in the dish. So add it earlier and let it provide the flavor and the sodium, then don't add any extra salt on its own.

    And it is definitely true that if you are working out regularly and sweating a lot, that you won't really need to worry about your sodium levels that much. I made the mistake of trying to eat really cleanly and my sodium levels went super low, while I was training for a half marathon, and while I was drinking 21-24 cups of water a day. Oh my god, I felt like I was constantly dying. Constant cramps and even some weird water retention in my thighs that made running really uncomfortable.

    When I upped my sodium and dropped my water intake slightly, all the issues went away. So lots of sweaty workouts can definitely help balance things out.

    Oh, and foods like potatoes, tomatoes, and spinach are high in potassium. But potassium isn't a required mineral on US nutrition labels, so your potassium may seem lower than it actually is. I used nutritiondata.self to create all of my own food entries for all fruits and veggies to make sure I had entries with potassium levels.
  • CatAMcC
    CatAMcC Posts: 166 Member
    Do you medically need to watch the sodium, or is it just a preference?

    I ask because I was fanatical about cutting out sodium as much as possible and later had blood work done where I was informed by my doctor that I had "low sodium" results! The combination of my cutting salt out, sweating a ton during exercising and drinking a load of water every day meant my body went into the opposite direction. Just something to think about so you don't tip the scales too far the other way.

    As for what to do to cut sodium, see above! Obviously, drinking more water and sweating the salt out of your system helps to get rid of excess sodium and so the level you see in your diary might actually be more balanced out than you think.

    Hi Andeey - can I ask how you changed this? Experiencing the exact same thing right now and need some help/advice!

    Thanks so much.