6. Let's Put This All Together

Ok, so we have looked at were we all started before our new diet. We looked at what the numbers mean. We looked at where we need to be, and finally the overview of shopping for the proper food. Now it's time to put everything together and start living the "LoSo Life."

How I plan my meals and budget my salt/sodium.

It may sound weird, but I look at my "Magic Numbers" that we talked about earlier as a budget. I have 2000 mg a day to spend on salt/sodium. So for me this challenge becomes, how do I wish to do that.

What Do We Know?

We know on this Low Sodium Diet we may not cheat.

We know on this Low Sodium Diet we may not stock pile unused sodium budget milligrams, there is no saving it till the end of the week.

We know that if we exceed our daily limit it will only be us who pays the price.

So how do we do it? You can very easily decide that at 2000mg per day you can just divide that number between 3 meals. So 2000 mg divided by 3 meals = 650 mg (rounded down) per meal. Simple and done. Now what if you want a snack after supper. Well you can eat something that is 0 mg of sodium like a piece of fruit or some veggies and all will be good. But if you crave anything beyond that you are exceeding your daily limit and putting yourself at risk.

When I first started this diet I took all the advise I have given to you so far and took my sodium levels as low as I could get them. At one point I was at 400 mg per day. As it turns out our bodies need a daily minimum of sodium and I was falling under that. I was feeling fatigued and light headed and my blood pressure was low. At one point a nurse called me with blood work results and actually told me I need to put a little more sodium in my diet. Honestly never thought I would ever hear that. But I got to the bottom and from there built back up to the regiment I still use to this day. So basically within the first 4 months I was released from the hospital I overdosed on sodium twice at the beginning. Which means I exceeded my daily limit of sodium and cause a Pulmonary Edema. Just a quick word about a Pulmonary Edema. In a word, it's TERRIFYING. You are literally drowning on the fluid on your lungs and heart. If I ever sound like I am being strict or over playing the end result of exceeding your daily limit it is because I never, ever want any of you to experience the feeling of drowning that come with this type of edema.

So let's look at how I budget my daily allotment of sodium. Although I have a restriction of 2000 mg a day. I made the conscience decision to listen to my cardiologist and work to stay at or around 1500 mg per day. A couple of things play in my favor.

I'm not a big breakfast eater. Didn't really eat breakfast before this life style, still not going to use a lot of sodium "points" for breakfast. I did the Shredded Wheat and milk for awhile and it was good. Now I'm hooked on a daily breakfast of Rice Cakes (15 mg for lightly salted or 0 mg for no salt) with either a small helping of veggie cream cheese (sourced at 105 mg per 2 tablespoons which will spread on 4 rice cakes) or Low Sodium Peanut Butter (60 mg per tablespoon) jelly (0 mg) and sliced bannana (0 mg). Either way my breakfast with these delicious "bagel substitutes" comes to about 150 mg. Not bad to be full and start your day.

So far Our Budget looks like this after Breakfast.

1500 mg Budget for the day
150 mg spent for breakfast
Balance = 1350 mg

Moving On To Lunch

I am still working so for me lunch isn't a sit down meal it is something quick and healthy I can eat at my desk. I have 2 favorites that I eat most of the time.
1. A salad, I love salads, always did well before my heart issues. 2. California Roll (veggie) Sushi. To me a great lunch. I do realize that neither one of these could be someone elses cup of tea, but it works for me. There is times I will take a small left over portion of last night's main meal as lunch, or make soup from scratch and take that as lunch. No matter how you shake it out my lunches are fairly light.

My Lunch by the numbers.
Salad, no cheese or meats, just veggies 0 mg sodium. A lower sodium salad dressing. This isn't necessarily a "real" Low Sodium offering, you can find salad dressings that are low in sodium if you look. I have found 4-5 I really like. The average sodium count with these is about 150 mg per 2 tablespoons (2 Tbs will drowned most salads so it is plenty.) so my salad comes to 150 mg if that is my choice for lunch. The sushi, because I make my own soy sauce and get my sushi from a sushi chef who does not use salt in his rice is well under the salad's 150 mg count, more in the range of 5 mg a piece x 12 = 60 mg. My soups are made from scratch and are formulated to be low sodium. They are also coming in at or around 50 mg a cup and I eat 3 cups for lunch so 3 x 50mg = 150mg. I have now left some room in my day to have a little snack at work. I like to eat unsalted cashews, or almonds or trail mix all of which have a low to no sodium offering. I'm also not opposed to having a few pieces of brown licorice from time to time. My snacks at work can average about 75 mg.

So far Our Budget looks like this after Breakfast, lunch and a snack.

1500 mg Budget for the day
150 mg spent for breakfast
150 mg spent for lunch
75 mg spent for a snack
Balance = 1125 mg

On To The Main Course, Supper
My Main dishes range in sodium counts every day from 450-600 mg is my average number and what I want to achieve when planning my menu. Yes there are times that I may go over the 600 mg mark, not often but it does happen. But I have left enough milligrams in my budget so that a slight overage for a single meal will not effect my health. The recipes in the Recipe section of this website showcase the variety of flavors, and options to make some amazing foods.

So far Our Budget looks like this after Breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner .

1500 mg Budget for the day
150 mg spent for breakfast
150 mg spent for lunch
75 mg spent for a snack
600 mg spent for dinner
Balance = 525 mg

Ok so I have now had 3 filling and very very tasty meals and a light snack between lunch and diner and I still have 525 mg left in my daily budget. I have 2 choices.
1. I can call it a day and end up at just around 1000 mg for the day and be proud that I gave my heart a break.
2. Reward myself with a late night snack just to end the day.

I usually split the difference. A tasty late night snack that still keeps me under my budget goal of 1500 mg per day. As you can see I had a full day of some very tasty food, my version of a bagel for breakfast, then soup or sushi for lunch, with a little snack and this day supper was Chicken Florentine which was amazing, ending the day with an ice cream sunday. All carefully planned and budgeted correctly. Let's learn how to do it.