I asked people on my FB Group what goal they find the hardest to meet from the Kidney Stone Diet. As of now, the most common response seems to be salt. Because of this, I decided to write a few tips and tricks to help you reach your daily goal.
Use salt where it matters most to you
Low salt doesn’t mean no salt. The Kidney Stone Diet has a goal of 1,500 mg/day. That being said, there are a couple of places I must use salt. Eggs and avocados. I use just a “bip” of sea salt, and since I do follow a low sodium diet, just a bip does me just fine.
Buying fresh foods typically means we eat lower sodium- think nonprocessed meats, fruits, and veggies. Anything in a package, jar, or can contain some salt, all to varying degrees. Make sure you read every nutrition label and look at how much sodium is in each portion you will eat. And make sure you don’t compare brands. Just because one label says “low sodium,” it may be much higher than the next can that states the same claim.
Watch out for cheese
Although I said buy fresh when you can, watch out for cheese. It is very high in sodium, which is one of the reasons it is so tasty. My patients need to meet their daily calcium requirements and often say to me, “I eat plenty of cheese, so I am good.” Then, I must break their heart and tell them that cheese is very salty and could be the culprit for their high urine sodium. High urine sodium is a risk factor for stones disease (and bone disease) because it can take calcium from your bone and dump it into your urine calcium (added sugar acts the same way in the body). When we have too much calcium in our urine, other minerals (think oxalate and phosphate) can combine with calcium and form stones.
Choose lower-sodium cheeses like ricotta and swiss. Remember, it doesn’t mean you can never have a piece of cheddar again, it just means understanding that it’s high and limiting it makes sense. Because I too like cheddar, sometimes when I make an omelet, I will use swiss as the bulk of my cheese choice, but for my emotional well-being, I will sprinkle a lesser amount of cheddar—so that I see some orange on top! It makes me happy and not feel so deprived.
Find lower-sodium condiments
After talking to me, many people find out that they are using too many condiments. Why do you think you love them so much? They are full of salt. Condiments are not free food. Pay attention to how much ketchup you put on that burger. It adds up quickly. Maybe squirt less ketchup but add a slice of tomato.
Use more herbs, spices, and citrus
My kitchen typically has many fresh herb options. Because I eat a low sodium diet, I like to spend more and buy fresh herbs for my meal prep. You can certainly use dried as dried spices and herbs are cheaper, but I figure it is well worth the expense. Lemon and lime are found in many of my meals as well. Not sure what herbs to use in a dish? Ask Alexa or Google, “what herbs are used in Italian, Meditareen, Mexican, etc. fare?”
Eat out less
People don’t like me much after I say they need to eat out less often while following a low sodium diet. Eating out is a speedy way to increase your sodium for the day. I have an article about eating out that you can find here.
Learn to cook simple meals
My Meal Plan service is popular because all the KSD goals are figured out for you in each recipe, the food is delicious, but mostly the recipes I make each day are SIMPLE and quick. I, like you, do NOT have time to be in the kitchen for hours. Cook meals that you enjoy but are fast and easy to make. Your health is worth the time investment!
Portion, not perfection
You might want to go out from time to time. No problem. Just pay attention to how much you are eating. Do you want a salty snack at home? Eat a lesser portion. If you cannot control your portion, that snack should not be in your house, just as I cannot have Cheez-Its in mine.
Manage Your Expectations
Living a lower sodium life takes time. At first, food will taste bland. But, I have found that most of my patients feel much better within two weeks. You are not expected to meet your goals every day. That is ok. The point of healthy living is that we always practice. When you eat or overeat sodium, get right back to work. No problem.
Focus on positive outcomes
Within a short time, you will notice that you crave less salt, your pants are no longer snug, your belly is no longer bloated, you pee more (bonus for you stone formers), and many will get off their blood pressure medication. Isn’t all of this worth it to you?
Your friend and advocate,