“Good Lord! This tastes like warm dishwater. It can’t be chicken soup,” I exclaimed.
Ironically, I had no one to blame but myself. I was the one who made this homemade batch of sodium-free chicken soup. It was my initial attempt at cooking following my drastic lifestyle change that was mainly centered on diet and exercise.
The exercise part was easy. I love to walk. I am a confirmed walker who can exit the front door and return home by way of Mankato. Following the heart issues that landed me in Mayo for nine days, I am now averaging between five and seven miles of daily walking.
Yesterday, aided by temperatures in the low 30s and accompanied by a crisp north wind, I raced around the Cliff Lake Loop, one of my favorite walking spots. Logging the time and mileage with my pedometer, I made notice of the fact that I had knocked a full hour off the completion of the route. For the first time in several years I was even able to jog for a few blocks.
The second aspect of drastic life-changing issues is the diet of low-fat and low-sodium products. The hardest was the elimination of prime rib dinners. No matter how much one trims the fat, there is still an awful lot of red meat going down the gullet.
Being a good German, I faithfully followed Mom’s style of cooking, which essentially involved fry, fry and fry some more. In our household the five basic foods consisted of lard, butter, grease, fat and oleomargarine.
Upon discharge from the hospital, I was presented with a post-operative diet which was heavy on fresh fruit and vegetables and low- fat everything. For me, the diet stickler was its low-sodium aspect. This was much more difficult than I imagined possible. I discovered that I am a salt addict. Salt is my heroin. I salted everything, including oatmeal in the morning and popcorn at night. I was certain that "N.O.S.A.L.T." stood for "Now Our Snacks Are Lacking Taste." Virtually salt-free, I find the real flavor of food emerging once rescued from the vitamin-destroying ravages of sodium.
I called my cousin the other day as he had similar heart issues. We compared notes about changing old habits that got us into our current predicaments. I quit smoking 35 years ago and Denny agreed that it had been almost that long since he enjoyed a cancer stick.
“I’m still chewing, though,” Denny stated. “Ole Olson gave me a wad of Snus when I was 10 years old and I’m still chewing all day long.”
“Denny, that can’t be too healthy,” I told him. “What does your doctor say?”
“Oh, he used to give me heck, but he finally gave up trying,” Denny replied.
I then told him about my low-sodium diet and how I realized I was addicted to salt. When I asked Denny if his doctor had him on a no-salt diet, he replied, “Oh, there was no way I could ever do that. Just ask my kids. I’ll open a bag of potato chips and salt the heck out of them.”
At that point I realized that I had called the wrong cousin for advice. Perhaps there is such an axiom, denial is the best medicine. For your sake, Denny, I sure hope so.
My wife has been very helpful with my new diet. She rid our pantry from the evils of sodium. By the time the cleansing was over, it looked like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard.
An awful lot of sodium is hidden in processed foods, with canned goods representing the worst of the lot. At our Moose Lake home, we found almost twice as much salty food to dispose of. We decided to donate it to the food shelf which led to my newest motto: save your heart, poison the poor. My other new motto is to read food labels before purchasing.