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Monday, April 20, 2009

Breaking My Addiction to Salt

Being the educated fitness professional that I am, I know full well what is both good and bad for the body. I'm well aware of all the things you need to do to maintain a fit and healthy body and life, and for the most part, I practice all of those things. I exercise, I eat smart and well (on MOST days -lol), and I exercise my brain constantly by learning and trying new things.
However, in all my healthiness, I do have one nasty little secret.
I'm addicted to salt.

If you saw how much salt I put on my food, you would be shocked. I can make even the heartiest salt lovers gasp when I wield a salt shaker. And it's something I've done for most of my life - overuse salt. I salt my foods to death. In truth, I can't taste food unless I put a ton of salt on it. My fault for overusing it in the first place. Well, that all is coming to an end RIGHT NOW as we speak. Last week saw me successfully get through my first salt free week EVER, and now I'm on the road
to completely licking my salt addiction.

Just F.Y.I.
High blood pressure is but one of the harmful effects one can experience from consuming too much salt.
Excessive salt intake also has a negative impact on your arteries, thickening and narrowing them thus impeding normal, healthy blood flow. It can also increase the likelihood of you having a stroke, and also can lead to kidney diseases.
According to some studies, it can also interfere with the normal digestion of protein by decreasing the amount of Pepsin released into the stomach as meats and proteins are being digested.

The reason that salt makes your body retain water is because it's your body's way of trying to protect your organs from salt's harmful effects. Thus, edema (an abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin, or in one or more cavities of the body) is sure to occur frequently in those who consume it.

Okay, so there ya go. I always knew that salt was bad for me, but didn't care. I just loved it so much! I keep it and hoard it like gold in my house. Those little packets you get from take out places? I bring them home and save them so that I never run out. To me, throwing away those packets of salt would be like throwing away nickels. If there is no salt in the house, I can't enjoy my food. At all. And I tend to eat things that require some salt on them. Hell, I even put salt on my salads! This has GOT to STOP!

So...last week, as I began my quest to rid myself of this nasty salt habit, I purposely choose things to eat that weren't "salt dependent" in my mind. I also forced myself to eat everything I prepared without adding salt afterwards. I still cooked with a little, but boy, did I cut back! I made myself very aware of how much I put in while pre seasoning my foods...something I have never done. Usually, I am heavy handed with the salt, both before and after the meal is prepared. Cutting back during food preparation itself was a big step for me. By the way, I cut my salt consumption back to almost zero. Last week, the ENTIRE week, I consumed barely a teaspoon of salt. That is HUGE compared to the cup and a half I'm sure I did before.

At first, yes, things did taste a little bland. I think that I've eaten so much salt over the years that I burned my taste buds out, because unless I put a ton of it on things, I can't taste it at all. But, with my new mindset, I am determined to change, so, I dealt with it. And you know what? After about 4 days, I was cool with it. After 6 days, I allowed myself to have a little sprinkle of salt on my eggs,
and immediately saw the difference! I could have eaten the eggs with NO salt, because it's like my taste buds have come back alive, and now the least bit of salt that is already in food, I can now taste.(simply because my tongue is now desperately searching for it!)

This is MAJOR for me! I have been over consuming salt since I was about 10 years old! My Aunt Sharon used to call me "Salt", as a joke. That's how well known my love of salt was. Well, NO more! I'm smarter than this, and dammit, I'm gonna act like it!

My goal is to ultimately use almost no salt, to begin using more herbs and healthier spices in my foods, and to find craftier ways to add flavor to my meals. Salt is on its way out the door!

My addiction to salt will soon be a distant memory, and I will be even healthier than I am now. I'm very happy and thrilled to be making this really important change in my life and eating habits! ;)

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Ricardo said...

This may be hard to believe but I cook things around here with no salt at all. I will only sprinkle some into a port of boiling rice or pasta but nothing is salted after it's been cooked.

We get fooled by foods that have too much salt. We think that should be the standard. It's a trick I tell you. And I'm glad you see it. Fitness Diva, Throw that salt back into the ocean!!!!

Dwayne said...

Be careful, if you start feeling like you are not alert or anything, start using a little more. Had a friend that did that and ended up in the hospital because of an imbalance in his electrolytes. You are a very fit person, so I think you will do great. Sorry it has been so long since I commented, it happens though lol

123weightloss said...

Electrolyte imbalance is one of the major causes of hypertension
It is important issue to control salt

Commonwealth Eye Surgery - Lexington, Ky said...

Daily normal amount of salt intake is ok.This normal amount may vary from person to person according to their height and weight but the amount needed to make the food delicious while cooking can be considered normal.This also depends on the amount of food and the types of food.
But taking excessive amount of salt is not good for health and leads to problems which are mentioned in the original post.

Mercola said...

I used to be addicted to any kind of food with salt in it. But knowing the pros and cons of taking too much salted foods, I can now manage to balance the amount of salted foods that I should and should not eat.

jacqueline said...

I feel that I sometimes use too much salt as well but from reading your post I'm sooo glad that you are "ON IT." In my work, I have contact with a few doctors and I've never known soooo many people to be on dialysis in my life! High blood pressure CAN lead to kidney failure and unfortunately, many don't make it to see another day. Thanks for helping us all become more conscious of the salt shaker.

Suddenly slimmer said...

Hi..Reading this post of yours, somehow makes me less guilty. I've been trying to reduce salt into my food but still craving for salty foods, chips in particular. There are days I just don't care.
Im aware with the danger of excessive salt intake. However, if I feel guilty about taking too much salt then I just go to the gym. Or at least no salt in the next day.

EastCoastLife said...

I half the salt in all my cooking. My dishes are pretty bland but I eat to keep my energy for work. :)

ROSILIE said...

I guess I am also addicted to salty food.

But good to know that you are doing something about this. My best wishes to you.

Kelly said...

Good for you. I am fortunate to never had started with the salt. My mom never put it on the table as a kid, so I never really used it other than on a few things, like french fries.

My 90-year-old grandma, on the other hand, is a salt-freak. She might give you a run for your money on that addiction. Holy Cow! I've never seen anything like it. And she is as healthy as a horse, so there is no use trying to get her to give it up...


Dori said...

Great info as always Diva. I don't really add a lot of salt to foods, but I know that there is salt hidden in many foods though. So we have to keep on top of this as you mentioned. Thanks for reminding me to watch out for the salt :) Good luck with reducing your salt intake.

Apollo said...

I think it will be a good idea to get rid of you 'salt-addiction' but keep in mind that a 'healthy' amount of salt is required as your body does need it.

Did you know that (according to another study...yes...I know...some of them are garbage and worthless) too little salt will impact your stamina and sex-drive (among other things and not trying to say that this is the most important point to keep in mind).

It is almost with everything...if consumed in a 'smart' way it is good for your body and if you overuse it you will experience all the negative impacts of it.

The Fitness Diva said...

Ricardo, I can't believe you cook with no salt! Having grown up eating it like candy, I can't even imagine that! lol!

Dwayne, the salt that occurs naturally in most foods will be sufficient, and I will still sprinkle a pinch on something now and then if it calls for it.
It will be a huge turnaround from how much salt I used to use. You just have NO idea how much that was!

Yep, 123, gotta agree.

yes, Kentucky, is true. Normal amount is necessary. The thing is, I haven't had a "normal amount" of salt in my diet in decades! I'm surprised I haven't dissolved like a snail, i've eaten so much.

The Fitness Diva said...

Mercola, it is an addiction, just like sugar. In fact, do a search on 'salt addiction', and a ton of stuff will come up.
I'm just thinking it's time to get a handle on it, and I will! :)

Jacqueline, not just me, but everyone in my family (with the exception of my parents, who both have high blood pressure - go figure) are heavy handed with the salt. I realize that moderation is the key to most everything, salt intake included.

Suddenly, I used to think the same way. I always told myself "it doesn't matter how much salt I eat. I'm just going to go to the gym and sweat it out, anyway".
Well, that may be true, but that still doesn't circumvent the affect it can have on your arteries and other various organs if over consumed.

The Fitness Diva said...

East Coast, sounds like you've got it down! And yes, with all that I see YOU doing on a daily basis, you need a TON of energy! :)

Thanks, Rosilie. It's just a matter of being more conscious and disciplined. Thanks for stopping by!

Kelly, your grandma sounds like me and the rest of my family! And it's funny how some people can have the worst habits like smoking and other things detrimental to your health, but still live to a ripe old age! But they are the chosen few! lol!

Apollo, over consumption is what I'm talking about. Of course, I'm aware that a healthy amount of salt is needed for water balance in the body and other bodily functions. If you sat across the table from me using salt the way i used to, you would be horrified.
It's that excessive overuse of salt that I'm planning to curb.
Also, the salt that already occurs naturally in many foods will be good enough, as well as JUST A BIT sprinkled on various foods here and there. If I ever had to eat certain things without salt completely, I just wouldn't eat them, because it wouldn't be the least bit enjoyable.
Thanks for stopping by.

Wilson Pon said...

Well, Diva. It's not an idea move to put our life into the risk, just because we cannot stop our addiction to salt! Honestly, my father has high blood pressure, but he love to consume salt everyday. I always advised him to stop this bad habit, but he seems didn't even listen to what I'm saying here...

Sometimes, I was wondering that why people can be so stubborn...? Sigh

Holly said...

I stopped using salt a few years ago and I felt so much better after that. Of course the downside is now when I go out it just seems like there is way too much salt on my food.

widi said...

but salt make our food delicius...
maybe we just to make balance betwen our body need and how much delicius our food we wanted.


PaulsHealthBlog.com said...

There is good salt and bad salt, so make sure you are getting the right balance.

However, I read about Dr. Gerson, who had severe migraine headaches. He eliminated salt from his diet and the migraines went away.


Eat Well. Live Well.

Variable Annuity said...

Awesome article! I have gradually become fan of your article and would like to suggest putting some new updates for more knowledge.

Sourav Sen said...

Too much of salt consumption should be avoided and especially for people after 40's as this tend to increase the blood pressure.

Custom Labels said...

I've never been one to put a lot of salt on my food so when I cleaned up my diet in the last few months it wasn't salt I found painful to part with. Definitely sugar and, more so, processed carbs. I love pasta. :( I miss pasta. :(

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