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Drop the Fight and Soon You'll Be Saying: Salt Who?

This is the final week of the Reduce Your Salt Healthy Habit challenge, and I'd to summarize how Susan transformed her salt habit this month. I feel like this month, more than any other, we were playing a mental game.

So to put us in the right state of mind, before we begin this blog post, let's say a collective, yoga-style Oooohhhhhmmmm.

"Ooooooohhhhhhhhhhmmmmmm." Thank you. Now let's begin.

Susan fought salt all her life. Her father fought salt (and still does), and Susan inherited the salt ageda. The whole I-just-need-one-more-shake-I-really-shouldn't-but-there-I-go-again-with-my-bad-habit thing. She wouldn't use salt in her cooking, then the food would taste bland. So she'd add it at the table, with constant negative-self talk.

Susan thought I'd come in like Attila the Hun and forbid her from having salt; but that's not my mojo. First of all, every body needs salt, and second: a little bit of salt can bring a whole lot of magic to food. I'd never do without.

Linguine with Pesto Sauce

So instead of taking salt away, we added: kosher salt (a less salty kind of salt), a special pink salt cellar for her daughter, and Susan started using salt in recipes again. One she realized the salt wasn't going anywhere, we stopped focusing on it, and shifted our focus to flavor.

That's right; we didn't take away any salt. But we added a whole lot of flavor. Susan began using fresh herbs, leeks, ginger, and other flavorful fresh ingredients. She experimented with Asian cooking (which her family loves, but always feels guilty about enjoying due to the salt content). She made sauces with fresh herbs and prepared at least three new dishes every week. She was motivated.

Here, in Susan's own words, is  how she did it:

1. "The more you try not to do something, the more obsessed you get with it. Once I stopped being so focused on the salt, it freed me up to put attention in other areas."

2. "Kosher salt is a permanent change. You can see it and taste it; in the long run, we’re using less salt because of it. I’m not using salt shakers any more. When salt is something I have to spoon out; it makes a different connection in my brain."

Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

3. "In the supermarket – I’m not thinking in restricted ways. Usually I go to same produce every time and run through it quickly. Now I’m in different areas. One thing I really like is green onion; I’d put it on almost anything. And leeks."

4. "Citrus has been a big factor, too. I like lemon a lot; gives a little punch." Depending on the meal, Susan has been offering a bowl of cut lemons, limes and oranges, so that her family can add a perky squeeze of citrus to the dish instead of salt.

5. "The herbs have been a big eye opener. And the spices. I assumed I wouldn’t like the flavor, the heat, even when I looked in Cooking Light, I'd look for recipes that fit what I’m used to; now I’m looking for recipes that are different and out of my comfort zone."

6. "I think the biggest thing has been TAKING THE GUILT OUT OF THE SALT. It’s not realistic to get salt out of your diet. People give up too soon. I think it’s much more reasonable to say – it’s not all bad. You need a certain amount of sodium. Now find other ways to punch up the food."

Susan's daughter Sarah (who allegedly hates Parmesan) enjoying Pesto (with Parmesan) on Linguine.

And is that sweet smile on Sarah's face the biggest reward or what? Part of the reason Susan wanted to work with me is because her daughter was going down the same salty path that Susan had tred; she wanted to halt these dinner time patterns of reaching for the salt and feeling the guilt. Now Sarah is reaching for the citrus, and loving her mother's home cooking.

Adopting a new healthy habit is a reward on it's own. But sharing that habit with your family, and having them rally around it, well there's nothing salty about that!

Our next Healthy Habit is: Portion Control. Do you have a hard time figuring out what is an appropriate portion size? I'm still looking for a portion control coaching client and it could be you! Please post on our Facebook page, or email me at healthyhabitscoach@gmail.com if you're interested in working together.

Happy Cooking!

Allison