Applying the Low Sodium Diet

The 2010 Dietary guidelines for Americans recommends that we limit our daily sodium intake to 1500 mg sodium per day. This is a decrease from 2300 mg per day in the 2005 guidelines.

Adhering to a low-sodium diet is probably the first thing your doctor will suggest you do. Some Meniere’s patients have found the change effective and studies have proven that these diets help, so it is certainly worth a try. A low-sodium diet is one of the most challenging diets because most foods have sodium in them and almost all processed foods have high amounts of sodium. The easiest way to go “low sodium” is to slowly ramp down to the intake level your doctor has targeted for you. This may not be the way your doctor would like you to do it, but if you remove all salty items from your diet immediately and replace those items with their low-sodium equivalents, you will find that everything has suddenly lost its savory appeal. I know because that is what I did. After a few weeks, your taste buds acclimate to the lower sodium level and the flavor comes back to foods in a new way; when you taste foods with regular sodium content, they taste too salty.

It will take time to unlearn your salt preferences. Research shows that reductions in salt content at 10 percent a year are not noticeable to one’s taste buds. Going from a high sodium diet to below 1500 milligrams a day overnight can be very discouraging.

To help you reduce your sodium intake, here are some strategies for you saltshaker lovers:

  • Cover half your plate with a piece of paper. Salt the plate as you normally do. Remove the paper and see if the unsalted half really tastes that much worse than the salted half.
  • Take an empty plate and salt it as though it were a regular plate of food. Collect that salt and measure it. 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt contains 250 milligrams of sodium.
  • If you just cannot break the habit of shaking salt over your food before you eat, employ the help of a loved one. Over time and without your knowledge, this person can slowly cover the holes in the shaker with a piece of tape on the inside of the shaker lid. If they really love you, they will just cover all the holes on the first day.

The majority of sodium that typical Americans eat comes from restaurants and processed foods. If you eat out, avoid typical high sodium foods and do not add any additional salt from the saltshaker. Ask for salad dressings and sauces on the side so you control how much you consume.


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