For most of us, it’s a devastating day when we’re told to go on a special diet. It goes hand in hand with the aging process, and American culture worships youth, among other things. To be put in a position of facing our increasing age with a special diet is being forced to confront that age concept. We know we will never be young again. For many of us, that will drum up mental pictures of sitting alone in a crowded nursing home without anyone who cares who we are and what we’ve done. It may not be a realistic picture, but none the less, it’s there, like a nightmare lurking and waiting to grab us.
After our initial shock, we embark upon doing what we know we have to. Cheating on a special diet isn’t like dieting and cheating. It has repercussions besides the number on the scale, and often those repercussions include physical discomfort, mental impairment, or worse. We don’t want to go there.
At the same time, what tastes GOOD without salt?
Salt is some sneaky stuff. Many items, even in their natural raw state, contain sodium. This salt has to be considered part of our daily intake as well. Then there are those products labeled as “light salt” or “reduced sodium salt.” At the grocery store, we’re assaulted on all fronts, even those we don’t anticipate, by secret sodium. It’s like a corporate conspiracy to cause a heart attack or stroke!
Staying low sodium means avoiding processed foods, most mixes, and a lot of other products too. It means changing how we cook and eat. A single meal of fast food now doesn’t mean too much cholesterol, fat and calories, but a sudden rush of sodium that could cause swollen legs for days–an excellent incentive to avoid the drive through window! I know, a recent fast food lunch of fish sandwich and fries had my legs painfully swollen in a matter of hours, undoing days of being careful about the sodium I consumed.
So today, I decided to make tuna and noodles, a favorite of GM’s. I sauteed onions, celery and mushrooms, made my sauce from scratch, and didn’t add salt to anything while it was cooking. Granted, I had no peas, something I consider a “must-include” for proper tuna and noodles, but I thought I’d manage.
I combined the cooked noodles and the sauce with the vegetables and tuna, stirred it gently to coat all of the noodles. A few minutes later, I took my first bite.
As a low sodium meal, this was a bomb. It had zero taste. Out came the lemon pepper, which contained salt. Carefully sprinkling a tiny bit over my small pile of noodles, I stirred them on my plate.
It was still low in sodium, just not as low, as I sprinkled about 1/4 tsp. over my noodles. The salt in the lemon pepper is diluted with the other ingredients, which also add flavor, and it took it from dreadful to delicious. Unfortunately, that was 230 mg of sodium with this particular brand, about 10% of the recommended limit for someone NOT on a restricted sodium diet. It was a lot for me. GM, who has avoided the special diet scenario so far, didn’t mind low-salt tuna and noodles at all. Go figure.
I may find myself seeking foods with more flavor that need less support from the sodium. Or eating less, which might not be a bad thing either.