Wednesday, March 26, 2008

One confession leads to another

Hi. My name is Trish, and I'm a salt-a-holic. It's been four days since the last time I salted my entire dinner plate (including the parts between the food, in case I needed extra for dipping) when I thought no one was looking.

People have told me for YEARS that this was not a long-term strategy for health and well being; I brushed them off with pithy rejoinders about how salt is a preservative and therefore the secret to maintaining my youthful glow. (And just for the record, I'm not conceding this point, not one bit).

The thing is though, I read a book this weekend that scared the salt right out of my shaker, so to speak. It wasn't one of the usual harrowing tales of high-blood pressure or clogged arteries that harass me every month from the pages of my women's magazines, nor was it a stern talking-to by a member of the medical profession. It was a memoir called Confessions of a Carb Queen by a former body builder whose food addiction (which was, by and large, determined to be a salt addiction) left her topping off the scales at 468 pounds before she finally sought help.

I mean-yikes! If that doesn't get your attention, what will?

Here's what shocked me: when she asked for help finding her way back out of her 468 pound cage, guess what they removed from her diet? Not fat. Not carbs. But salt. She described the crazy cycle of how salt leaves you insatiable, craving more and more. I thought of all the nights I've shoveled giant bowls of pasta into my mouth, my stomach begging for mercy while my taste buds demanded, "We need MORE!" And how often I sneak extra salt when I'm out to dinner, hoping no one will notice that I've reapplied four, five, or even six times. Then I laughed, thinking of a friend of my parents' who tells people he's on a "low-sodium diet" because he no longer adds extra salt to his bag of potato chips. That sounds like something I'd say.

I threw away our salt shaker Saturday night. And the garlic salt, and the soy sauce. I think we have some meat tenderizer lurking on a shelf somewhere, but as soon as I can hunt it down, that's gone, too. It's not that I really think I'll end up in the 400 lb. range; the author of this book had other food issues that--thank God--I don't share. My fear is less extreme: that I'll reach that point so many women do, where I've gained so much weight that I no longer feel like myself, and can't figure out how to get back to where I'm supposed to be. I don't want to drape clothes over my body just to be covered. I don't want to shop only in the handbags and shoes sections because I'm afraid to know my dress size. I want to be me for the long term, and if breaking my salt habit will help me avoid being Trish in a Tent, I guess that's the price I have to pay.

But still...if I used salt as an exfoliant, I might still benefit from its beauty-preserving powers, right??? Bring on the Cheez-It skin scrub!!!

25 comments:

ashley said...

I too am addicted to salt. I used to eat salted ice. And I could never eat a pickle unless it was loaded with my favorite little seasoning.

But since I'm officially on a diet now, I guess it wouldn't hurt to cut salt out. I don't think food will ever taste the same without it.

The Mommy Blog said...

Ever tried Celtic Sea Salt? Different taste, and not as bad for you, and cost a fortune, therefore you use less out of necessity!

Sarakastic said...

I've never been able to relate to most diets that still let you eat chocolate. Don't get me wrong, I love chocolate, but it's not my problem. I don't have a problem cutting out sugar because I'm a salt attack, nice to meet another one.

Melek said...

i never thought about how salt makes you crave more. interesting theory. but i believe it. i used to eat baked lays or pringles (the saltiest tasting of chips) every day bc i just craved the salt. now that i've been off chips for a few months, i dont want them at all any more.

good for you. let us know how your salt-free lifestyle goes.

Em said...

Good for you, Trish!!! That's great!

Beck said...

I definitely think that's the case. WE don't have a salt shaker to help us be concious of how much salt we're eating....

L Sass said...

I feel the same way about sugar! If I could eat steak sprinkled in sugar, I would.

Okay, not really, that would be gross. But pretty darn close.

Good luck with your detox!

Larramie said...

Good for you, Trish, it will be interesting to note if you feel healthier in general. I gave up salt after college because it never improved the taste of THAT food at all!

Caryn said...

It does explain why some people can't stop shoveling French fries and potato chips into their mouths. Me? I'll take sugar over salt any day, but when eaten together--delish!

Are You Willing to Change? said...

I didn't know that about salt, though I don't really like it. I tend to not salt anything, then G gives me a hard time, because he likes his food to be throughly salted. Oh well, I let him salt his own food, and I'll be less hungry! Haha!

a little bird said...

confession: i am also a salt-a-holic. and an alcoholic, come to think of it... so i guess that makes me addicted to everything, eh?

great post :)

Jess said...

Wow, that salt thing is insane. I'm not exactly addicted to salt but sometimes I really crave it. Much more than sweet things. I will now pay more attention to that and try to avoid it. Thanks for the tip.

Jen A. Miller said...

Yeah! Smart move. You'll find that your tastebuds will adjust after a while, and you'll actually taste your food instead of the salt, which is a nice change (I've been there, done that). At that point, if you were to ever eat a salted up meal again, it'll taste gross.

Michelle & the City said...

you have officially scared me saltless.

Patti said...

whew. i am supposing candy, cakes, pink snowballs, twinkies, robin eggs, danish pretzel cookies, and all the rest are still in...

~Virginia~ said...

hee...scared saltless. :) i'm kind of the opposite...i'm a pepper addict. i put it on practically everything. i must have been a smoker in a previous life. :)

Alyssa Goodnight said...

I think you might end up with a not-so-subtle orange glow if you go for the Cheez-it scrub. But hooray on reducing your salt--I wonder if that might help me drop a few pounds (although I don't actually salt much of anything now--I just eat it how it comes).

Z said...

Me too me too!

For one birthday, an ex gave me a salt lick as a joke present. (Yes, this is a long-term addiction of mine) You know, like they put out while hunting deer, etc? A while later, a bunch of us got drunk and decided to see what it tasted like. Everyone else? Gagged and needed to clear the taste out of their mouths. Me? I kinda liked it... Yeah, definitely an addict! ;)

LEstes65 said...

You didn't know me during my hard core nutritional regimine. But salt was limited. Try lemon juice. I cooked with it a lot to replace vinegar (a no-no for my nutrition back then). And I found that the lemon juice gave me the tang I was looking for because of the missing salt.

But as for the salt thing - the girls that come over for my Chick Nites? They are really into this beer salt. Have you seen this stuff? They insisted I try it. I did. Gack. Dude, I don't need SALT with my beer. If I want to drink salt, I'll order some tequila shots. Dang. But the weird thing is, they use tons of it. And then complain the next day when they feel all bloated with puffy lips. What evah, goylz!

Surfergrrl said...

I'm a salt craver myself. i always crave it around 11 each day at work. like a bag of chips or something...

keri mikulski :) said...

More of a sugar girl myself. Good luck shaking your addiction.

charlotteharris said...

Very interesting. As for: "I thought of all the nights I've shoveled giant bowls of pasta into my mouth, my stomach begging for mercy while my taste buds demanded, "We need MORE!"" ...That happens to me too, I never realized it was the salt calling out to me!
Good for you tossing the shaker. Soon you won't miss it so much.

Paige Jennifer said...

Ugh, I can't stand excess salt. Like I've owned a salt grinder for two years and the thing is still sealed in the plastic. But I loves me some fresh pepper.

Alas, I still need to lose weight and you know what? I'm all about the sugar. Like I used to eat powder mixes for hot chocolate right out of the container. So while I point and laugh at your salt addiction, I'm right there with you.

ellesappelle said...

Wow, that's really surprising. I would never have thought that salt had any influence on your weight or how much you eat. Good luck!

swtpmarie said...

You just made this cardiac nurse VERY happy! :) FYI...we're meeting in about 3 weeks!