Sodium Restriction – A Challenge

The First Challenge at Home – Eating

I came home from the hospital on January 2, 2014.  The first week home was quite challenging.  An oral thrush infection had begun in the hospital, I guess my bacterial balance was off due to the antibiotics.  My tongue was starting to hurt, avoiding sugar and bread are recommended to prevent the thrush, a yeast, from getting worse. Canker sores appeared on my lower lip. It hurt to eat Raisin Bran.  I got a prescription of Nylastatin, I popped some garlic and acidophilus pills, and I ate yogurt.  On January 14, I was able to say that my mouth felt fine.  Thank you, God!

Worse than the thrush problem was the realization that, permanently, I must now follow a low-sodium diet.  I have always watched calories and fat, I am not one to be heavy on the salt-shaker, and my blood pressure is always well below the 120 on the top number, even without the medications I was prescribed.  Do I really need to stay under 2000 mg? What the heck can I eat?  This is a new ballgame.

I lost my appetite for awhile and added Boost to the short list of things I consumed.  The first week I saw the scale drop 12 pounds, due additionally to diuretics like Lasix and spironolactone, and to loss of muscle mass.

I learned quickly the impact of restricting my sodium.  I normally have a hard-boiled egg as part of my breakfast, for a little protein, with a little salt and pepper.  Salt from the shaker is a no-no.  Not that I use a teaspoon of it at one time, but a teaspoon of salt contains more than the day’s limit of sodium.  That tells me I should not use it, period.   An egg without salt is incredibly bland.

I had often alternated Egg Beaters with the hard-boiled eggs. Less fat and calories.  Of course, it has sodium.  The original variety has 90 per 3 TBSP.  Egg whites have 75 per 3 TBSP.  I have been mixing one real egg with the one serving of Egg Beaters, and sprinkling Mrs. Dash Table Blend.  Not too bad.  It is okay on an hard-boiled egg as well.  I have read on forums that sage, thyme, garlic, and hot sauce are tasty alternatives on scrambled eggs.  Note that hot sauce has its own sodium.

**Check out my links on the home page, currently on the right margin.  I added a few links regarding sodium, and I plan to keep adding sites about sodium and dilated cardiomyopathy.


On January 16, when I decided to get out of the house and accompany my husband to the veterinarian (30-minute drive) for a 6 pm appointment, I knew we had to grab dinner at a fast-food restaurant.  I looked up the content for various establishments.  I found a website with links to multiple places; I cannot find that site now.  I scribbled down the lowest items.

The information useful for that first dinner experience allowed me to choose between McDonalds and Arbys.  Having counted my sodium all day, I still had 1000 mg available on a 2000 maximum.  McDonald’s offered:  Fish filet at 590, grilled chicken classic at 820, a hamburger (the small one) at 480 or cheeseburger at 680 mg.  Wow, the cheese makes a 200 mg difference.  A  yogurt parfait, which I usually substitute for fries anyway, has only 70 mg.  Since the only item at Arby’s* that looked filling enough for dinner was the Roast Beef Classic at 970 mg, we went to McDonald’s.  I ordered a hamburger with no toppings*, I used just a little of a ketchup packet, and enjoyed a yogurt parfait.

*Pickles are high in salt, so it helps to exclude them.  Mayonnaise (110 mg/2 TB), ketchup, and mustard add sodium, too.  I don’t like pickles anyway, and the other condiments I like to keep light as well.  Not much of a sacrifice.   I do like Arby’s, so I am bummed out about their lack of options. Their lowest sodium salad (Chopped Farmhouse with Roasted Turkey) was at 780 and I did not feel like eating salad as you don’t know how much meat they include.  Maybe if I took my own salad dressing it would’ve been do-able.  Arby’s lowest salad dressing is at 230 (honey mustard).

 The plan for some posts in the near-future:

I am working on charts to list the lower sodium options for some fast-food restaurants, general tips about dining out, and sodium content I’ve noted for eating at home.  I want to have something neat to put in my purse as reference when I dine out.  I love to share helpful information with others, so I will be posting the charts when I am finished.  I hope it helps someone like me; I have not found one website that has everything, and I won’t bother with the higher sodium foods.  I will have one post for the dining out information and another for eating at home.  It may be more broken out that that, as I don’t want something super long that requires lots of scrolling.

I love the Bible and there are so many verses that I try to apply to my life and which comfort me, remind me of God’s love, faithfulness, and goodness and keep my worry level to a minimum.  Today I have started signing off with Scripture, so here it is for today:

..but those who hope in the Lord renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.(Isaiah 40:31)

Isaiah 40-31