Gather round team, time for a (low-sodium) pep talk!

I don’t normally delve into my family’s day-to-day doings, but the strength of this analogy cannot be denied.

This is my daughter, Maddie.Β  Maddie started middle school in the fall and announced early on that she wanted to join the swim team. For a kid who’s never expressed much interest in sports and had never before played on a team, this was pretty big news.

Swim team started two weeks ago and with it daily practice. Overnight, Maddie went from her normal footloose & fancy-free (lack of) routine to a disciplined schedule. I braced myself for the possibility that she might not enjoy it. I half-awaited an announcement that the daily grind of school and practice was too much. But each day she’s returned home glowing. Her gusto for swim team is contagious.

Yesterday was Maddie’s very first meet. I watched with nervousness as she mounted the diving platform. Here was my daughter, a new & determined athlete giving it her all. Maddie placed third out of her 6-girl heat. Last night before bed she told me she couldn’t wait to get to practice today.

To see something so fundamentally good blossoming within my child, a love of camaraderie and competition, fills my heart with joy. It’s every parent’s wish: to instill in their child a desire to succeed, to encourage them in their passion, and through failure and success discover what life is all about.

Similarly, each of us comes to the low-sodium table not as a champion, but as a novice. We start with our first tentative strokes, and sometimes we come up choking. We may feel defeated. But I’m here to say don’t give up.

On those days when you feel as though you’re simply treading water or that you’re swimming on autopilot, remind yourself – you’re in the pool! Those above you on the bleachers can see your progress, even when you can’t. You may struggle with fatigue, but with daily practice you’re building endurance and ultimately, success.

Living without salt and without convenience is a pain in the.. I want to say butt, but it’s far more than that. It’s a chore. Much like my daughter’s daily swim practice, a low-sodium diet is something you must commit to. You can’t slack off and expect to make inroads. It can be hard, but like swim team, it’s easier together. When we motivate each other, encourage ourselves, and provide inspiration, making wise and healthy choices becomes rote.

Whether you’re living low-sodium because of heart disease, hypertension, renal failure, Meniere’s disease or something else altogether, I want to remind you: YOU ARE LIVING. Until that very last breath, you have the ability to do something. Food can heal. If you don’t believe me, pick up a copy of The China Study or watch the documentary film, Forks Over Knives. Food choices can change lives. I’ve seen it firsthand. The difference in my quality of life now, and that before the low-sodium diet, is night and day. And low-sodium days add up. In the same way a diet of fast food and convenience does damage to your body, you can help reverse that damage, meal by meal. Think of food as medicine. You are what you eat. Feed yourself accordingly.

Like most things in life, staying healthy and maintaining sanity on a low-sodium diet is all about motivation. It’s up to you. No one can put food in your mouth three times a day from now till the grave; it’s your responsibility. So make yourself, your health, and your happiness a priority, and I promise to keep rooting us on.


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22 Responses to Gather round team, time for a (low-sodium) pep talk!

  1. I love “you can help reverse that damage, meal by meal”. That’s really hard for me to think about too much, because in some ways, I don’t want to reverse the damage! I love bad-for-me foods, and I don’t want to become one of those people who eschews them because I’m all holier-than-thou. On the other hand, why would I purposely mistreat my body?

    (Go, Maddie!)

  2. Susan says:

    Thank you. I needed this right now. xo

  3. tracie says:

    Thank you, Christy, I needed this today! I am “fighting the good fight,” but sometimes the unrelenting fatigue threatens to overwhelm me. But choice by choice, I am changing my life and my health. Cheer Maddie on for me!

    • Christy says:

      You’re right Tracie, you are making strides. When you get down, remember how far you’ve come. And most importantly, remind yourself you are DOING something, not simply giving up. That’s crucial. GO GIRL!

  4. Amber says:

    Ok, I now have another foodumentary (food documentary) to add to our list. And yes low-sodium cooking/living is definitely a pain in our other word for butt. Some days I think, we keep eating the same thing every week, we need something new. That’s where the blogging world comes in.

    And, the new site looks great!

  5. Cara says:

    Thanks for the post! This low-sodium diet thing is a pain but 100% worth it.

  6. shambo says:

    This is a wonderful essay. Your words are encouraging yet realistic. Living low sodium is a challenge and sometimes you can get tired of the constant battle. It’s so easy to give into temptation (and to deny that we’re tempted is foolishness). The encouragement we receive from each other is vitally important. Thank you for this post. We all need to hear these words from time to time.

    • Christy says:

      Shambo, your friendship and support mean so much to me, and so many others. It’s so important to build people up, encourage them and help. And in the case of diet, it can mean the difference between long term health or…

      Thank you, my friend!

  7. That’s a great analogy, Dishy… and a wonderful story, too!
    Congratulations to your daughter! Very impressive, indeed! Especially to me (I tend to do more sinking than floating)! Now… where did I leave those water-wings?!

    • Christy says:

      I didn’t even learn to swim until I was Maddie’s age, let alone compete competitively!

      She’s loving it. Yesterday was meet #2, she came in third in both races. So proud of her.

  8. Mary says:

    Great post! I was diagnosed with two forms of Kidney Disease almost 5 year ago. Living a low-sodium diet was really hard at first, I put salt on EVERYTHING! Once I got used to it, I found that my food actually taste better, not only because I wasn’t using salt, but because I was discovering the joy of spices and seasonings. I have been dubbed “The Salt Police.” I have converted about a half dozen other people in my life to a low-sodium diet! People are really ignorant when it comes to salt, even if they think it’s not hurting them because they don’t have a disease. Sodium awareness, one person at a time!

  9. Jody says:

    This is a really good post Miss Dishy, and great timing too as I’m in a food funk and don’t need to turn to junk.

  10. Leah says:

    Thanks for the pep talk. I needed it today. I’m struggling with what to do about bread. Do you just eat bread and factor it in for the day or do you really have a low sodium recipe that is good? I’ve tried baking three versions thus far and they all taste like cardboard. I miss cheese a great deal too. Bread and cheese together….I can only dream! πŸ™‚ And most of all…I miss eating out with my family. We are sort of a “foodie family” living in a “foodie” city and we all love to explore a new restaurant. It’s been a big change to have to make everything for every meal, every day. I needed a pep talk. I’ll hang in there. I have discovered that things taste noticeably salty now. Congrats to your daughter. Very impressive. 6th grade can be a rough year. I bet this is great for her self-esteem.

    • Christy says:

      Leah, it sounds like you’re going through exactly the same sort of thing I did. It’s SO HARD learning to live low-sodium. Esp. initially.

      I will never forget being stuck in the car while on a road trip, my family were inhaling some sort of greasy fast food while I ate a plain baked potato. The car was filled with the smell of FOOD. I sat there salivating. I totally resented my lack of choice.

      Life gets easier. But you have to plan for things. Bread is hard. I’ve found some good low sodium breads. – I like the salt-free whole wheat bread they sell at Trader Joe’s – particularly with grilled swiss cheese sandwiches. At Whole Foods they sell Garden City All-Natural Lavash, they’re like big soft tortillas and are SUPER low in sodium. I think they’re my favorite bread of all. Food for Life has a sprouted grain bread, low sodium and rugged in texture. And Vermont Bread Company also makes good low-sodium bread.

      As for cheese, you can eat Swiss pretty much always. I also eat Parmesan cheese, albeit in limited quantities, as well as fresh mozzarella. It can be hard, but hang in there! I know how you’re feeling – as do many, many others. Strength in numbers!

      Thanks for the congrats. Maddie is working hard & I’m so glad she’s found something she enjoys so much – and at just the right time. πŸ™‚

  11. Tracy says:

    I just stumbled upon this site and your blog through Pinterest. I was recently, February, diagnosed with early onset heart failure. I am a 54 year old, healthy woman otherwise. This low sodium-low salt eating is totally new to me. I have rarely cooked with salt as I prefer flavored olive oils and a wide array of spices from around the world. I appreciate any information and recipes that boast flavor while being low/no salt! Thank you and I hope Maddie is still swimming! Tracy

    • Christy says:

      Hi Tracy! I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but it sounds like you’re already on your way to a great low-so transition! Flavored oils and spices are what make cooking great regardless of salt – and it sounds like you know what you’re doing! Thanks so much for your kind note. I really hope the site helps offer some advice and recipes you enjoy. Wishing you all the very best! Christy PS: Maddie is still swimming happily when it’s warm here (NOT YET!) hahah No longer on the team but loving it as much as ever. πŸ™‚

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