A friend of mine in the Facebook group asked if she was supposed to count all the salt that occurs naturally in foods like fruits and veggies. She also mentioned that she was dealing with a lot of stress and that the thought of counting salt in produce was overwhelming.
In response to this common scenario, I did a Facebook Live, which you can watch here if you’re a member of the group. For those of you who are not members of the group, keep reading. It’s a bit more nuanced than you might think.
If you have ever been part of my Kidney Stone Prevention Online Video Course or had a private call with me to go over your urine test, you know that one of the best things about these services is speaking to someone who has 24 years of listening to people and helping them change their habits. The only way to help someone incorporate change is to ensure it is doable for them.
If someone says they’re stressed about a change or goal, I know to go slow. This friend specifically stated that counting the salt in produce was too much for her. I heard her and told her this…”Don’t do it.” Fruits and veggies grow in the ground, and there is sodium in the soil, so they will contain a bit of sodium. Don’t worry about counting this sodium if it stresses you out.
For those who happily count the sodium in produce and it doesn’t cause stress, continue to do so. But this person was feeling too overwhelmed and may have given up if told she MUST count it all. And why would I have her give up over the tiny bit of sodium in a plum?
The same goes for sodium in dairy milk—if you’re too overwhelmed to count it but watch all other sodium, then don’t worry. Focus more on getting your calcium needs met than worrying about this small amount of salt.
Every day on my calls, people claim not to use much salt. However, when I review their urine collection results, it’s clear they’re eating around 8,000mg/day. The problem is they don’t know what they don’t know, and they are not “turning it around, Buster Brown” and looking at the nutrition facts. Once they realize that salt is in every darn thing, they can begin lowering it.
Now, I don’t ask someone eating 8,000mg/sodium daily to go straight to the 1,500mg/day goal of the Kidney Stone Diet. That will not work if we’re trying to achieve long-term compliance. It’s too drastic a change all at once. Instead, we’d set a goal of 5000mg/day. When we start hitting that regularly, we’ll drop a little lower and continue on until we hit that final 1500mg/day goal.
The naturally occurring sodium rule does NOT apply to foods like cheeses. They are just TOO high for tiny portion sizes, and this food group is easily overeaten. Not counting naturally occurring sodium only applies to fresh produce and regular dairy milk.
I know I’m going to get hundreds of emails asking “Well what about this food and what about that food?”, so let’s say under 200mg of naturally occurring sodium in a product is the goal.
Before getting overwhelmed with naturally occurring salt, ensure that you’re reading those nutrition labels and leaving that salt shaker on the table. That is where one starts to make real change.
Here are a few articles on low sodium and other goodies:
Slowly, your taste buds will acclimate over time, and you will start loving this lifestyle. Give yourself time. Give yourself grace. And most of all, be kind to yourself while learning.
Your friend and advocate,