Who knew I’d be effectively banned from most restaurants due to salt, the major trigger of my inner ear Meniere’s disease. Not just the fast food, salt sodden-burgers and French fries ones, but (almost) all restaurants.
Who knew so many restaurants don’t actually make food?
Happily there are still some real restaurants. On a recent 3-generation outing. we landed at a non-chain restaurant in Northampton, MA called Sylvester’s. What a relief to have the wait staff and chef work with me to find an unsalted piece of salmon on a bed of unsalted lettuce, with oil & balsamic vinegar on the side. Not exactly my former go-to, eggs Benedict, which might explain the weight loss caused by my new diet.
How to figure out what I might eat at chains necessitated a new app, Menu Mama. It paints a bleak picture for those of us who must adhere to a no-added salt diet. So much so, I’ve come to the sadly sober realization that most travel is now impossible. One quick look on Menu Mama showed a Taos turkey wrap with a svelte 472 calories has a sodium overdose of 1895 milligrams.
Why so much added salt?
It’s called addiction. Human tastebuds love salt, thus the tag line of one salt snack, “bet you can’t eat one”. I couldn’t. Neither could you. Married to a former Agri-Businessman, he educated me as to the other usage of salt in the foods we buy. Added weight and not just on us. Salt holds water, water is cheap, thus they sell water as prepared food inflating company profits.
But don’t we need salt?
The American Heart Association web page is educationally enlightening. “On average, Americans eat more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day–much more than the American Heart Association and other organizations recommend. Most of us are likely underestimating how much sodium we eat….”
“The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day…moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.”
“Is there such a thing as eating too little sodium? The body needs only a small amount of sodium (less than 500 milligrams per day) to function properly.”
The AHA helpfully adds that 500 milligrams is less than a level 1/4 teaspoon, not the teaspoon stirring your morning beverage, but a measurement 1/4 teaspoon.
So what happens when this Meniere’s sufferer eats too much sodium? Within minutes my tinnitus zooms louder–occasionally to an ear splitting 747 airplane sound. The link will lead you to a similar sound, but you must max the volume to recreate my experience and put your ear smack up beside it–or don’t. I wouldn’t wish Meniere’s on anyone, almost.
Given keeping my sodium low, keeps my tinnitus livable–it also keeps me from considering doing a Van Gogh and cutting off my ear.
Amazing how pain can train even a human like me.
Postscript. Why is Amazon my new secondary grocer? Elementary dear reader, they carry no-added sodium products that I cannot otherwise find. Though their algorithm is lousy, what is possible is way better than any big box or other store. I even found Hain’s potassium based baking powder! So just improve the algorithm Amazon and I’ll buy more.