Home » #Happylifetweaks: Reluctant Mother v Sodium

#Happylifetweaks: Reluctant Mother v Sodium

Few months back Husband had one of those slightly bullshit health screens at work.

I say slightly bullshit because I had been in a state of partial denial ever since. .  .

My Husband, who weighs not much more than he did in High School. . .and yo yos 3 pounds max; My Husband, who runs 3 to 5 miles every other day;  My Husband who only smoked a cigar once while highly intoxicated in Mexico (against my advice) over a decade ago. . .(oh, that was ugly. . .I’m still sorry, Ritz-Carlton, Cancun).

Seemed to have border-line high blood pressure.


His cholesterol levels are never stellar.  And given our eating habits, I’d imagine he just has some genetic propensity for unfavorable cholesterol numbers.

But blood pressure too?!

Chris:  “They say I need to go on the H E A T diet.”

Me:  “Do you mean the D A S H diet?”

Chris:  Yeah.

And for months I wondered about the D A S H diet.  Because we eat a TON of fresh vegetables, without added salt.  We eat fish as recommended.   We try to limit our consumption of other meats.  We eat A. LOT. of HOME-SOAKED beans.

We eat out just once a month.

We easily eat $20 of Honeycrisps a week.

We use only olive oil and real, unsalted butter sparingly.

We LOVE adventure.  We exercise daily.

We eat a lot of nuts and nut butters. . .on bread. . .on our adventures.


Hell, I’m squeezing a lemon on some raw kale and telling my children this stuff tastes AWESOME.  How in the MULTIPLE EXPLETIVE does my Husband have some sort of blood pressure problem?!


That’s when I went label crazy.


Those whole grain frozen waffles Mac and Teddy were eating at least twice a week?  One – ONE – waffle contained 17% of the recommended sodium (based on a 2000 calorie diet – which I’m pretty sure isn’t a child’s caloric allowance).  Mac frequently ate at least 2 at a time.

I felt my blood pressure rise a little.

I swiftly moved the cart to the name brand organic whole grain waffles.  They ALSO contained 17% of daily recommended sodium.


Waffles are now a “sometimes” food.


I’m not completely ignorant:

I KNEW bread was an issue so I had been shelling out for the lowest sodium I could find –  within our budget:  Nature’s Own Whole Wheat.

I NEVER buy prepared dinners in the freezer section.

I had all but stopped stir fries because the soy sauce is off the hook and Mac drinks that stuff like water.  Then, upon further inspection, I realized even RICE VINEGAR contains sodium.  I THOUGHT ALL VINEGAR WAS “SAFE!”

The salsa and chips I thought were a “decent” snack?  To quote Jimmy Buffett “Salt!  Salt!  Salt!”

Pretzels?  FIVE – JUST FIVE contain 20% of your daily sodium.  As a family we can eat 1/2 a pound a day some days.


We needed to make a few tweaks:

I’m not into banning food.  Nothing is off-limits.  However, certain items which we ALWAYS ate are now “sometimes foods.”  And I’m much more mindful of serving sizes.  My kids no longer have unfettered access to pretzels on hikes.

What are we snacking on?  Organic kettle corn.  A serving size is a huge 2 or 3 cups, it has fiber, and it’s not too bad for you.  Obviously, fruit and veggies.  Plus, unsalted roasted peanuts – IN THE SHELL.  Shelling peanuts will definitely slow down that urge to just cram fistfuls of food in your face.

No more lunch meat.

I’ll cook chicken breasts or turkey for sandwiches.

Dips and sauces:  I’m trying to make more from scratch so I can control the ingredients.

I’m more careful with cheese – especially the processed cheese sticks kids love.  (Subbing hard boiled egg whites sometimes).

I’m buying peanut butter that doesn’t have added salt or sugar.

All those “veggie” items – Like the Morningstar burgers and chicken-less patties contain a lot of sodium.  So we do still eat them occasionally but I found that organic real chicken nuggets contained far less sodium for the kids to eat more frequently.

At first it felt daunting.  SALT is EVERYWHERE.

But these little tweaks became much easier over time.  I’m hoping they will help us stay healthy AND happy with our food choices.

This, of course, is not meant to be medical advice.  I’m not a medical or diet professional.  Talk to your Doctor.  In the meantime, if you want more info regarding the DASH diet or sodium there are plenty of great online resources easily available with a Google search.  



4 Responses to “#Happylifetweaks: Reluctant Mother v Sodium”

  1. AmyLynn says:

    This story is all too familiar. My problem was giving up soup, so I started making homemade low sodium soups and freezing them in meal sized portions. You can save your vegetable ends and make a flavorful vegetable broth.

    Try Braggs Amino Acids for a substitute for soy sauce. It comes in a spray bottle so you can spray it on top for flavor.

    • admin says:

      AmyLynn, Thanks for making a very important point: If it’s low fat or low calorie and mass produced, it’s likely loaded with sodium. I make a soup once a week during the cold months and spice it with crushed pepper flakes and stuff. No added salt. Care to share your favs?

  2. AmyLynn says:

    Chili – if I can get low sodium canned tomatoes. This is a no brainer since chili powder, garlic, fresh peppers are all sodium free.

    Lentil soup: onions, celery, carrots, veggie broth, bay leaf, thyme, lentils, add chopped kale at the very end. Simmer until the lentils and veggies are cooked.

    Beef Guinness Soup: Brown some cubed beef, then add room temperature Guinness (enough to cover the meat) and simmer for 1-2 hours on low, keep covered. Saute onions and celery in a separate pan, then add to the stockpot with thyme, black pepper and other ingredients: barley, potatoes, carrots, peas, mushrooms (whatever you prefer). Simmer for at least 1 more hour. It always tastes best the next day. I don’t usually add broth or stock to this soup. I am usually liberal with the olive oil though.

    Mmmm. I am hungry!

    • admin says:

      I do chili and a kale/lentil soup too! But I cannot wait to try the beef/beer soup! That sounds fabulous. Thank you so much for sharing.