Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What we feed Larry - Low Sodium ofcourse!

Well, as I have said, I have been asked many times about my diet, especially since I suffer with Ascites and Hepatic Encephalopathy.
And it just so happens... I have a few tips and suggestions... along with some recipes that I can share.

First thing is first, always talk to your doc or nutritionist about any changes, I do not pretend to be a professional. Automatically your nutritionist will say NO canned, frozen, or packaged food, I find this a little misleading. However, in the grocery store I stick with Dr. Oz's advise, which is to pretty much stick with the outer isles... in the middle of the store is most of your processed and eviiiiiiiiiiiiiiil hidden salty foods. But there are some ok things in there and some necessities too (like all of your seasoning... and let me say if you don't have a spice rack, you better go get one, because salt free is not flavor free (it just makes it a little trickier sometimes) I also do get some canned fruits and vegetables (say whaaaaaaaaaaaat, CANNED veggies) Yes, but I do not get the regular, I do NOT get the "less sodium" I get the "NO SODIUM" green beans, corn, and tomato products) because lets face it... I can't ALWAYS use fresh. Though if you can do it... more power to you!! and to tell you the truth even the no sodium green beans contain 10mg of sodium per serving... and that serving size can get you sometimes, so be careful!
Ok so what do we have so far,
  • Stick to the outer isles of the grocery store as much as possible
  • Deli meat - get it sliced yourself in the fresh deli section (and get the heart healthy meats) Processed meats and bacon... hot dogs... all are just plain bad! And I have yet to find a soup that is edible for me that is canned... it's like, would you like a little veggies and noodles with your salt water. hehehe.  
  • Get yourself as many spices and herbs (Do not get garlic or onion SALT, make sure its powder, also don't get most mixture spices and rubs like Mortons... they contain a lot of sodium. (Oh, and one that still hurts me... pickles... I miss you pickles) but I digress...
  • If you are getting something pre-packaged, pay attention to the label (especially the serving size)
  • Check to see if the "Heart Healthy" label is an option on anything else you have to buy packaged, but remember above... serving sizes!! Don't be fooled by "less sodium" labels, although some things like your soy sauces, BBQ sauces, and chicken stalk are never going to be low enough, there is still a place for them too in moderation. 
      --Your first few shopping trips are probably going to be long ones... If you are like me, you will look almost angry when reading the labels and looking around for someone to share how ridiculous the amount of salt is in some things are... and you probably have some food in your cupboards that you need to get rid of... well get rid of it! It's the best way to start and some of them can be replaced with low sodium variations.
Now, another biggie is, I love to hit the specialty stores... Mothers, Trader Joes... etc. and I also try to get to my local farmers market on Thursdays (Us Californians are blessed with great local and cheap produce, but there are a few states, including Arizona and Utah... that have something called bountiful baskets - I'd check into that) You can find some awesome stuff, like at our farmers market I find great fruits, veggies, breads, and some great garlic seasoning. I could be a sales person for this stuff, they have it at and if you like garlic, you will like these rubs... we use them on everything from a rub on chicken and fish to sprinkling it on homemade baked french fries. YUMMY!! and low low sodium! Oh, and don't forget your Ms Dash. I like there marinades (like the Spicy BBQ one). Another thing, being that I live in a pretty easy to grow area, I have started my own little herb garden... I have things like chives, rosemary, basil, cilantro, chilis, mint, cherry tomatoes... etc. I find it a lot easier to season my fish with fresh rosemary ( I cut some of it up with fresh garlic and a lemon from my neighbors tree, lil bit of butter and as Rachel Ray says "Yumm-O") It helps to have some kitchen gadgets too, like a garlic press (and don't forget, rub your fingers on your sink faucet after cutting garlic and you will get rid of the smell... we use a lot of garlic. hehehe) a hand juicer, a good grater, and at least 1 good set of knifes. It makes it easier... and just funner when you have the right tools.

Here are some cookbooks and sites that I like, including this book here to your left. The healthy family meals has everything from breakfast, snack time, to side dishes and desserts. I haven't tried a recipe that my family hasn't liked in this book and most are made pretty quickly.

The American Heart Association has some great cookbooks... some are a little more "adventurous", including recipes with shark and other foods I'm not really used to, nor do I often see in my grocery store. The 2nd Edition Low-Salt Cookbook is one that has some good ones and some weird ones too. They even have a slow cooker low sodium cookbook I might try for those cold nights. They also have a great website. Heart-Healthy Recipes ... it's free and is a good place to start. Larry also has some older posts that talk about how important your diet is... not only for your liver, but for your life (oh ya, I should write this stuff down... it's golden) hehehe... anyways, click on below link to view older posts.

Eating for your Liver (older posts)

And remember,
  • Stay below 2,000mg (I stick to around 1500 for the less ascites build-up - but that's my body) 
  • Count your sodium in everything... be careful for your juices like Gatorade, and don't foget that even your vitamins are going to contain some sodium. You must count it all.
  • Start slow... and don't starve yourself. I happen to be slightly bordering on malnourishment, so getting enough of a calorie intake is hard enough for me, so sticking with pretty much all freshly cooked meals with low or no sodium ingredients is all I need to do to keep below the maximum suggestions) but this does not have to be a "diet", more time-consuming, or tasteless! And it can actually be a little fun and adventurous... Don't forget to get your kiddies in the kitchen too, if you have them, and you can... It really does make it easier for me to get my son to eat something if he helped to prepare it or watched it grow in our garden.
  • And don't give up!! This is a lifestyle change that is a major change for some people, it took you (how ever old you are) to become the type of eater you are, it isn't going to be an easy, overnight change... so don't beat yourself up. 
  • Now, since that was a lot to take in at one time, why don't you go out and have a nice restaurant meal....(say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat) yup, we do that too on occasion. Just make sure to check the nutrition guide (and a lot of restaurants will actually have the chef come out to help you on what can be made for you.) Ohhh ya baby!!

Spread the word! Live Life then Give Life!!

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