I don’t think most of us realize what a large role sodium plays in our life. When we think of sodium, many of us still tend to think of table salt.
I found myself faced with the task of substantially reducing the sodium in my diet. I had never been one to use much table salt so I thought it wouldn’t be difficult at all. I quickly learned how wrong I was!
Once I started reading labels for sodium content, I was amazed that so many of the foods that I ate regularly were packed full of sodium. I knew that a lot of canned foods had large amounts of sodium for preservation purposes, but it never occurred to me that most packaged and frozen foods also contained high amounts of sodium. I found that two main ingredients flavoured food; sodium and fat. If something was high in sodium it would often be low in fat and if it was low in sodium it would be high in fat. I found it very difficult to purchase foods that were low in both.
One of the things I found most difficult cutting back on was ketchup – a huge source of sodium. Ketchup has never been a condiment to me; it’s always been a side dish!! I grew up being a “sauce” person, so cutting back on and giving up things such as soya sauce and barbecue sauce – that was tough. Even the low sodium versions tend to be higher than recommended. Another favourite of mine – tomato juice – which is loaded with sodium – was hard to stay away from. I would indulge occasionally; however, purchase the low sodium type.
I made these changes but didn’t think they were really having much impact. I quickly realized, though, that this was not the case. Every time I had dinner at my grandparents, my feet and legs would swell up within hours and I’d have to elevate them. One night it was so bad I had to wear grandma’s slippers home because I couldn’t get my feet into my shoes. It finally dawned on me that grandma always cooked with a lot of high sodium ingredients. It was then that I realized what I was doing was working and how important it was that I stay vigilant with the amount of sodium I ingested.