Week 14: Salt

Salt, Lots of salt.

Sorry about posting late this week but life got in the way, as it often does. Weeks like this would have usually had us depending heavily on fast food and eating out, but as we were already in the swing of eating in we made it through. Mostly.

This week we ate salad, packaged spaghetti and bottled sauce, canned soup, crepes, chicken and rice, and stir fried veggies. Pretty normal for a hectic week but two incidents drove us to restaurant food. We anticipated these types of events and accounted for them in our year long plan but I didn’t expect two in the same week.

First we were scheduled to feed dinner to two Missionaries from our church. Scheduled for Next Week! I had planned a nice dinner of roast chicken with fettuccini and broccoli in a roasted pepper cream sauce. Someone informed them it was last week so when they showed up we had almost nothing in the house and nothing decent that could be prepared in the time frame they had available for dinner.

The solution? Chinese delivery! We ordered the generic “Dinner for Four” and had it delivered. Now this is a very good, family owned place that cooks from scratch. Not the stereotypical Sysco Canned food that many Chinese restaurants serve. This is good food. But I was struck by how salty it was.

I will let you in on a professional secret. Good restaurants use TONS of Salt and Fats! that’s why the food tastes so good. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors were in need of sodium and all of the calories they could consume. This is why we developed a taste for salty and fatty food. It drove us to seek out those foods first when scrounging for food. This ingrained desire is now a problem where salt and fats are now easy to find.

Have you ever wondered why we like Salt and Pepper? Why not Salt and Ginger? Or Oregano or Cumin or Dill or……….? Sulphur! Pepper contains sulphur. We need sulphur for many things including digesting food. Salt and Pepper are easy ways to get sodium and sulphur in our diet.

The second incident was a family activity along with a close family friend. Afterwords my father in law took us to dinner. I could have recused myself from the dinner after the activity but that would have been a serious social Faux Pas. He took us to another one of my favorite Chinese restaurants. Again a wonderful family run place where everything is cooked fresh and from scratch. I did a good job of just eating a light meal out of the selections before me but again I was struck about how salty everything tasted after my food for the past months. It tasted Great, but salty to my pallet at this time.

I want to be clear that I am talking about Salt. Sodium Chloride. NaCl. Not Mono sodium glutamate, MSG. That is a separate issue that is widely misunderstood and was blown way out of proportion. The “Chinese Food Headache” has been debunked by several studies but the myth just won’t go away.

A salty restaurant meal is not an issue for most people, but salty meals all the time can be an issue for anyone. As we have become more dependent on eating out as our norm rather than cooking at home, salt and fat have become critical health issues.

The solution? Cook more so you can control salt and fat. Plan ahead and bring a light lunch with you to work. It takes the same time to prepare a healthy lunch as it takes to go grab fast food at lunch. And just be aware of the salt and fats in restaurant foods. there is nothing wrong with eating out, just be aware of what you are getting and plan that into your overall diet for the week.

See you next week. John

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