For almost 4 years I suffered from, "unknown Cirrhosis of the liver". Do you know of anyone, or perhaps you have had to undergo a life-altering medical condition that causes you to change your diet? When the doctors say, "you need to make this change, or you will die", you sit up and listen. One immediate change I had to make when I heard the news that I had serious liver failure was, "you must go an on a low salt diet, now!." If you have ever had to cut back on salt, you know your food becomes rather tasteless, and it can your desire to eat and keep up your health. Thank goodness, I learned ways to bring flavor into my diet, and here is some of what I learned and practiced.
First, I want to tell you there is life even with a LOW-SALT DIET.
When was told I had to radically change my salt intake because my liver was 75% dead and never coming back, my heart and tastebuds sank very low. That evening my daughters and then-wife, emptied the cupboards of all, "heavy salt" items that dad loved. Overnight I went from normal salt, McDonald's fries, seasoned meats, and salted popcorn to a total of 1,500 milligrams of salt per day. Most exciting flavors were gone from my tastebuds on less than 12 hours.
Second, I want you to tell you READING BOX SALT CONTENT DOES BECOME NORMAL.
The very next day, I had to go to the store and shop for food that I could eat. But to make my salt count each day, I had to learn how to slow down and read box labels and count how much salt or sodium that was in each box or item. To make my daily food count took practice and big food choice changes. I began to intentionally look for or ask for, "low salt" food items. (Many stores now have special labels color-coded to help you spot low-salt items). I also ate more fresh fruit and foods than ever before, but there was also some food that I had to avoid. It's all a constant learning experience.
Yes, the flavor of food and your tastebuds will change. Not all foods are bad with less salt or no salt, but I will not lie, after a couple of years of a low salt diet, and an even lower sodium level (I eventually got down close to 1,000 milligrams/day) food does taste like cardboard. But there is hope!
Third, there are non-salt additives that can boast flavor on your food.
Almost immediately I learned about and began using MS.DASHES flavor substitutes. (https://www.mrsdash.com) Ms. Dashes has a wide variety of flavors and can be found in most stores today. Not all flavors pack a punch, and it may take some experimenting to figure out how much to use, but does help add flavor and joy back to your food.
As my liver failure progressed and my salt intake was less and less I craved something with even better, or more realistic salt seasoning. Thank goodness for my Aunt MaryBeth (food nutritionist) that pointed me to CHEF PAUL'S MAGIC SEASONING BLENDS. (https://magicseasoningblends.com/) I can not say enough how much the various packets or shakers helped me enjoy food again and make it through what could have been a tasteless, lifeless, eating experience. Even popcorn could have real flavor again!
Fourth, Learn to reward yourself
One of the biggest tricks that I learned, and worked well for me and my family created a REWARD SYSTEM. When my family and I started on my low-salt diet journey they wanted to support me by going "lesser" salt meals as well. At first, it was a unifier and help for me to get on the new plan. It did not take long for me to encourage them to eat as they wished and I would make my adjustments as needed. They seemed to appreciate it. Then after I got past the initial adjustments, I found I could "extra" low salt during the day, and treat myself to a more "normal" family meal with salt.
This reward system helped with family meal plans, shopping, family unity, and I had tasty meals to look forward to at night and a somewhat normal feel to life. We still had to watch and count my sodium, but I learned and trained my body to fast in the day, and feast more at dinner.
Fifth, find what works for you!
When facing a major medical life change, always follow your doctor's advice. Sometimes, it's just learning how to apply what the doctors tell you in your situation. In my case, I had to learn mental ways to keep me physically motivated. In your situation, it may be something different. Never lose hope, seek advice, find creative ways to make proper adjustments. And remember, life does not have to bland and tasteless... no matter what the salt content is on your food.
Rich "Trigger" Bontrager is a motivational speaker, leadership coach, broadcaster, and UNOS Ambassador on a mission to help you, "DEFY THE ODDS in life, leadership & public speaking. You can reach Rich at firstname.lastname@example.org
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