Going on a low salt diet is scary, unfamiliar and intimidating.
As a result of Andy’s diagnosis with Meniere’s Disease, we felt uniformed and alone. We understood very little about sodium and found few resources to assist on this new journey. The recipes we did find had no spice, felt outdated and were unaspiring to cook, much less eat. Taking a leap of faith, starting something new that is hard and overwhelming.
When you start out, everything is really hard. Temptation is everywhere, and you have to be extremely careful. It might feel like it’s always someone’s birthday at the office, your kids are constantly screaming for cookies, and you seem to gravitate towards unhealthy salty foods at the grocery store.
Every time you give into one of these temptations, you feel like the day is ruined and you’ve been set back at the beginning of the level. But every day you succeed, you build strength, and it becomes easier and easier to pass up temptations. Building the right eating habits are essential to living a low salt lifestyle. It is imperative to start one step at a time, with one meal at a time.
Retraining Your Salty Taste Buds
When it comes to our relationship with salt, most of us have to make a change. We have become so accustomed to either eating refined foods high in sodium such as pre-packaged food, canned foods, frozen meals, condiments, deli meats, and sprinkling salt on everything we eat, that we are now deeply entrenched in the addiction. Suddenly, any food without it tastes "bland" or "unexciting." Salty foods light up the pleasure centers in our brain. The more we have salty foods, the more we want.
Studies show that salt, which is found in most processed foods, is actually highly addictive. When we stop eating these processed foods full of salt, we can actually go through legitimate withdrawal and are in danger of relapsing into eating these foods again, in greater quantities. Believe it or not, salt releases the same “happy” chemicals in your brain as drugs.
Human beings are born with around 10,000 taste buds, most of which are located directly on the tongue. These taste buds help us enjoy the five primary tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami.
When we retrain our taste buds and free ourselves of this addiction, we begin to appreciate many of the wonderful food’s nature has to offer for their own flavors, rather than trying to mask them in salt. Once you cut back on salt in your diet, the great news is that it takes a very short period of time for your taste buds to adjust. Once that happens, suddenly, all the high-salt foods you used to love will taste far too salty.
It is a process to change your taste buds, and it might not feel good those first few days, but over time your taste buds will adapt. Within 30 days weeks your tongue will become more sensitive to salt. Your food will taste just as salty but with half the salt.
It’s Not a Diet, It’s a Lifestyle
A “diet” typically means a temporary change in eating or drinking habits to achieve desired results. Most of the time spent “dieting” is miserable because you’re depriving yourself of all of the foods you enjoy….and you can’t wait until you can eat “normal” again.
There is a reason you are making the transition to eating less sodium, perhaps you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, high blood pressure, maybe you just had a heart attack, have diabetes or feel bloated and swollen all the time.
From now on, look at any changes to your diet as transitions to a new lifestyle. We’re not making temporary changes or getting started on the next diet…we’re building lifelong habits and lifelong health.
Andy and I struggled for a long time on this low salt journey. After 10 years of “learning the hard way” and making mistakes, we want to pay it forward. Low Salt Kitchen is here to support you teach you strategies, tips, tricks and most importantly recipes that will help you thrive in your journey to living #theunsaltedlife.