This month, I'll be working with Susan to help her getting a handle on her sodium intake. Here's the letter she sent me to explain why she needed my help:
My family has always used too much salt on everything. I remember my Dad trying to cut back when I was a kid and he warned me to watch my salt because of how hard it is to stop once you start. He tried every salt substitute out there and never did manage to get off of salt. He still keeps a salt shaker next to him at the table at large gatherings.
Now I have the same issue. I salt everything...over and and over. I find that when the salt sits on the food, the taste fades...so I salt it again. I have a six year old now who, despite my efforts not to introduce table salt to her, has developed a strong affinity for it. We cannot leave salt shakers out because she will try to use it when we are not looking and will oversalt her food. I try very hard to make myself stop using it, not so much even just for my own health, but because I know my daughter is watching me and I can't tell her to stop using salt, if I can't do it.
I wish I could say I'm hopeful i can stop using salt entirely...but I would be lying. I do feel though that's it is possible for me to learn to reduce my salt intake and try to help my daughter learn to control her intake while she is still young.
After our first coaching conversation, it became clear that Susan was really beating herself up whenever she readched for the salt. Make no mistake -- she still reached for it -- but it was an incredibly negative experience, for herself, and now for her daughter. It was a real source of stress.
Susan doesn't salt her food while cooking (not even the pasta water); instead she salts each bite when she eats. I asked her to measure her salt at dinner and guess what? She had only had 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt. That's 12% of her RDA of salt. At one meal. Which is fine! Susan's salt may be just what she needs! After all, our bodies need salt, and with all that salt-denial...let's just say wouldn't it be a happy discovery to find out that Susan is giving her body exactly what it needs?
So this week, we're trying to shift Susan's attitude toward salt. Instead of making salt a source of guilt and negativity, we're going to make it a pleasure, a treat, something special. To that end, I'm *adding* two new salts to her table. When I did this, Susan was shocked; she was convinced that I'd be taking all her salts away. Pshaw!
I'm adding Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, and Maldon Salt Flakes. Susan is currently using iodized table salt which has 590 mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon of salt. That's 25% of her RDA of salt. Yowza!
Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt has 280 mg of sodium per 1/4 teaspoon of salt. That's less than half the sodium of Susan's current salt! But if salt is salt; how can that be? Diamond Crystal has a bigger salt crystal, which means pinch for pinch, there's less salt in your hand. Also, it means that each crystal takes longer to dissolve, since it dissolves from the outside in. Which means when Susan is salting her food at the table, she'll see that piece of kosher salt on her food far longer than she'll see that piece of fine table salt. And since Susan has told me that her daughter will ask for more salt if she can't see it; this has the possibility of seriously curbing their sodium intake.
As for the Maldon's, it's a glamorous salt. It's an English salt, naturally harvested. When the salt forms, it creates these long, flat enticing crystals. It's a mainstay in English homes, and though it's less common here it's a lovely salt for using at the table. It would never be passed through a shaker, you have to spoon it or pinch it on.
And since Susan and her family love to salt their food at the table, so we decided to upgrade this from a guilty pleasure into a ceremony. Susan has ordered a pink salt cellar for her daughter, with tiny little spoons, so salting can become more of a graceful act, and not something to feel bad about.
So this week, Susan is removing the guilt, and adding two new salts. Plus, since everyone in Susan's house seems to enjoy accessorizing their food (with salt, ketchup or salty sauces), I've asked Susan to put a bowl of cut lemons and limes on the table. Instead of salting, perhaps they can "pop" the flavor in their foods with a perky hit of something acidic.
And finally, I've asked Susan to return the salt to the kitchen. Her salt guilt means that she usually leaves the salt out of recipes, so no wonder everyone is adding salt at the table! I've asked her to make two meals this weekend, using recipes, and leave the salt in. Let's see how that changes habits at her table.
Do you have any tips for reducing sodium? Anything that's worked for your family? Let us know!