No-salt/low-salt living

It’s in my mind.

Partly this is to do with my change in blood pressure medication, and resultant strong determination to get back to losing weight, that being a much to be preferred way to lower the damned thing.

And partly to with worrying about a fellow ex-voxer who is new to the dietary contortions required to turn what you should eat into anything you are likely to want to eat.

Anyway, after couple of years down this particular path, here are my best discoveries.

First, and most simple minded: if you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it.
If the people you live with want to eat something you can’t, let them eat out.
The shopping list reflects what I need, by and large.
(Bread is an exception; we just have separate.)
But they can salt their own spaghetti sauce.
Things like tuna, tomato sauce, broth, all can be found in no or low salt versions.
There is no reason to buy them with salt ever again.

Second. Five a day, vegetables and fruits, and no cheating.
Every day, count them.
A minimum of five.
And try not to rely too much on fruit.
Getting the fifth one in is often a struggle – it helps to get going on this early in the day.

There are some good ways to make this work.
Like real carrots, not the nasty ready-to-eat things.
Big, tasty Bugs Bunny carrots that you have to work to eat.
Just take one along in the morning and finish it when you can, and that’s one.

Never eat a meal without an extra vegetable or two.
It helps to have a couple that are easy, that you will eat.
Me, I will always eat steamed cauliflower or brocoli, and they go okay with about anything.
Just cut it up, and steam it in the microwave (bowl with some water and a saucer on top).
But these don’t have to be yours.
Saute a great handful of baby spinach.
Make a quick salsa of avocado, peppers, onions, and tomatoes to go over some fish.
Just because you are trying to be healthful doesn’t mean it has to be dull.

A lot of foods you can adjust so that a salty taste isn’t particularly missed: vinegars, citrus juice, garlic,hot peppers, green onions, all of these can add a lot of flavor.

Somethings just won’t be much fun – breads mostly suck without salt.
Alvarado bakery does a sprouted grain no-salt bread that is bearable, but things like crusty artisanal breads just aren’t happening.
If you are at the point where there is the occasional cheat, this is where it happens.
If not, well, welcome to the furry-footed hobbit world of seedy breads.

Bad foods?

Soup is almost by definition salty.
I can occasionally do something with masses of onions, lime juice, hot peppers, fresh cherry tomatoes, and beans that is not too bad.
But it would be better with salt.

Cheeses are also salty.
This, for me, is one of those can’t really do without it.
So it is slice it really, really thin, and consider it the week’s Bad Thing.

And things like crackers, pretzels, and the like.
You will learn to sneer at the words “healthy” and “natural” combined with “sea salt.”

So, other people with other ideas/thoughts?


17 responses to this post.

  1. ugh it is so hard. I don’t have to worry about salt because I don’t use it a whole lot and my blood pressure is good, but I do tend to go for things with less salt because I can’t stand salty. I need to cut back on sugar. That’s my big downfall. I just want to cut back and that is hard enough, but some kind of -ose is added to SO many things you buy. It’s awful. And I certainly don’t have the time, patience, or knowledge to be making even half of my own stuff. I was raised on sweets (i could punch my mom for all the shit she let us eat 2 out of the 3 meals we ate plus snacks and shitty drinks) and I might die if I completely cut them out.
    So…I don’t have any ideas for you but you have my sympathy.
    Oh AND I recently read something about how oh, salt isn’t really to blame for this and that and the other, blood pressure and such. I don’t believe anything anymore from the health articles.


    • I think it is that there are people it doesn’t seem to bother.
      And other people it does.
      Me, when I get a lot of it, it turns up on my bp.
      Sugar is another one.
      Luckily I just don’t like soft drinks.
      Like maybe I have two a year.
      But label reading is tiresome.


      • But so, so necessary!

        I remember, years ago now, when a friend was diagnosed lactose intolerant, we started reading labels to find out what had lactose, or other milk products, in them. That whey powder is everywhere! That started me on my drive to eat as little processed food as possible.


  2. oh and with my hyperthyroidism now there is stuff I should avoid (actually i think salt is one now i’m remembering…)


  3. I don’t need to cut back on salt for any reason but I am trying to eat healthier – more fruits and veggies, less processed foods, nothing with high fructose corn syrup are my big drivers. Figured I’d start with that and not overwhelm myself with the label reading.

    I’ve dropped five pounds in the last few months from this plus working out more. Changing up my diet to include healthy habits will work better for me than trying to “be on a diet” or eat less. Just eat better – which is also is less because I’m paying more attention to portion sizes.

    I’ve also been on a quest to use up all the spices in my cupboard. This means a lot more home cooking where I can control what is in my food. I heart cumin. It’s my favorite. Black beans with some olive oil, water, cumin and garlic (and whatever else suits your fancy) simmering for a while can be soooo yummy. I also like to add a can of diced green chiles to everything I can.

    So I guess I don’t really have good no-salt suggestions beyond what you have. Get creative with other spices. Eat fresh. That’s about it. Thanks for sharing your tips!


  4. Drinking lots of water is good too.
    I think I get 4 a day out of those 5. Fruit in the morning with my oatmeal, spinach in my lunch, piece o’ fruit with lunch, and spinach or broccoli…and/or sweet potato with dinner. Check spice stores for spice blend inspiration. Cook your own beans. Try out different grains and other things like quinoa, polenta (corn!), and amaranth. Quinoa is a complete protein too.
    Cheese would be SO hard to cut down on or live without 😦 *pat pat*


  5. Japanese food contains so much sodium, I don’t eat it most of the time. It sounds funny since I am Japanese, but when my blood pressure started to rise, I started checking the labels for sodium content and discovered that many of the basics of Japanese cuisine, soy sauce, miso, dashi (shaved bonito flake broth), dried seaweed, pickled vegetables, ramen noodles, are loaded with salt. The only thing that isn’t is wasabi, and I’m not going to flavor everything with wasabi. Ginger root has a wee bit of sodium in it: I like using it as a seasoning when I’m cooking things that otherwise use tons of soy sauce. But I feed Dad his miso soup and salt mackerel because he doesn’t care anymore if he dies from a stroke, while I eat Indian, which uses little salt and mostly spices like cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper.


    • I have the image of HG saying, “OK here are some wasabi muffins, some wasabi chicken etc…. I find that controlling salt intake is one of the worst ways to really control BP, and like you say at the beginning, losing weight is the best. But controlling salt is easier.


      • Wasabi fudge!
        The salt isn’t as hard as the generally healthy thing.
        And exercise.
        Would that it were all just about salt.
        Le Sigh.


      • LOL! I saw wasabi-flavored potato chips and popcorn at this gourmet grocery store a few months ago. I didn’t touch them—a little wasabi goes a long way for me. But I could stand to lose some weight. I don’t like sitting down and feeling this potbelly resting in my lap, lol.


  6. My blood pressure is good, so I don’t think I need particularly to watch my salt. What I do need to do, though, is eat less processed/fast food. I’m beginning to think that a lot of my tummy troubles are due to the extra pounds I’ve put on in the last 3-4 years. I’m not built to wear off-the-rack waists anyway, and when I add a few pounds, it just squeezes more. 😦


  7. Posted by Riesie on September 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    The old guy has been on a salt-free diet for years (which of course means that I am, too, sigh), so I sympathize. Watch out for anything pickled, like relish or some salsas – usually lots of salt there. Also, if you make your own bread, you can leave out the salt – it’s not necessary for the chemical magic. I find that letting it rise twice – and the slower the better – instead of just once before forming the loaves for the final rise helps enormously with the flavor factor and we don’t even notice that there’s no salt. HTH


  8. Good advice, especially about the fruit and veg *goes to fridge and gets carrot*
    Washing carroths, slicing them and sticking them in cold water (in a glass or somesuch) makes for decent snack. All raw fruit/veg is easier to eat when sliced and sitting on the table 😉


  9. Good luck! It’s not easy, but I think the key is to pretty much not buy anything in a box. We’ve migrated to a diet in which we get our CSA fruits and veggies, make our own bread, eat a lot of lentils and beans, and small portions of lean meat. All our numbers are going in the right direction, so that’s good.

    I’ll point out that booze has no salt. And you’ll take my cheese only from my cold, curd-encrusted dead fingers.


  10. Good stuff!
    I had to cut back on salt for my blood pressure and that worked. Well, cutting the salt and increasing the exercise, which is very difficult to do. I have found it fairly easy to keep the salt under 2000 mgs per day.
    I love carrots….like you said, real carrots with the tasty peel still on, scrubbed good. Crunch crunch crunch. And thank dog that potato chips don’t have all that much sodium!


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