After living with chronic kidney disease (CKD) for several years, I’ve found it crucial to develop strategies to keep my dietary sodium intake low and the flavor of my foods high! And I have found that regardless of whatever stage of CKD I may be in, the one thing that doesn’t change is the importance of following a low sodium diet. When we asked fellow patients how they managed to avoid excess sodium in their food, while still having their recipes be flavorful, here’s what we found:
- The most popular alternative to sodium is Mrs. Dash seasoning, by far! (And it’s available in multiple flavors!)
- Various dried herbs were a close second. One person claimed to have more than 100 different spices in her cabinet! A few people told us that some spices created a salty flavor for them, including coriander. For me, lemon pepper is a long-time favorite, but ALWAYS be careful with spice blends. Be sure to check the labels for sodium before buying them.
- Fresh herbs and vegetables add flavor. We found that many people specified their fondness for onions, peppers, garlic, coriander, and celery.
- Lemon and lime juice were also popular alternatives. And the colorful zest of these fruits can provide an even more intense flavor when added to foods.
- Vinegar was popular too!
- When buying canned foods, read the labels and steer toward options that don’t list additional sodium.
- Limit or avoid sauces, mixes, and “instant” products, including flavored rice and ready-made pasta.
- A dash of dry white wine goes a long way. It deglazes the pan and adds acidity.
- Whenever you shop, read all labels and look for hidden sodium.
- Avoid fast food! It is high in sodium.
- When ordering at a restaurant, request that the chef not add sodium to your dish.
Regardless of what stage of CKD you may be in, keeping sodium “in check” is the key to controlling your blood pressure and regulating your fluid intake (if you’re on fluid restrictions). But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy food anymore! Look for ways to add flavor to your food and you’ll find that you can actually enjoy a great variety if dishes! For more tips and tricks from patients, visit the RSN Facebook page.
Cher Thomas, RDH, is a registered dental hygienist and a renal transplant recipient. After her kidneys failed due to ANCA positive vasculitis, in 1999 her brother became her kidney donor. Cher utilizes her experience with peritoneal dialysis and organ transplantation to explore the relationship between oral and renal health. She lives in Galveston, Texas.
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