I am so happy that so many of you have been venturing out to restaurants for low-sodium meals. High five. Up high. Down low. Low -so.
But salt happens.
You order something simple, like a salad. Or maybe even something extraordinary, like fried asparagus.
You hear from the waiter that the kitchen has everything under control. You eagerly hold your fork and knife, awaiting your low-sodium meal.
The plate arrives. You take a bite. And like a sting from a bee, you experience the bursting flavor of salt.
You know it’s salt. Your taste buds have become hyper detectives when it comes to the pow of those crystals. But the kitchen was so seemingly aware and accommodating…so you question your intuition.
You take a few more bites. Some are saltier than others. Some are down-right salt-free. And you’ve now officially entered the ultimately confusing culinary twilight zone. You’ve been salted.
What just occurred in this scenario is a common and understandable kitchen mistake. The waiter, the line cook, the sous chef, and the head honcho all prepared your meal with care. But at some point, that plate of unsalted goodness landed in the hands of someone, whether it was the expeditor or another white coat. And as is very customary in the cooking world, a handful of finishing salt was sprinkled all over your plate.
It’s a matter of muscle memory and many chefs have told me that, even though they are now accustomed to cooking salt-free meals for me, they often find themselves unconsciously reaching for that salt bowl. Many having to slap their hands away or even start the meal over (if they didn’t catch themselves in time).
Ok. So what do you do if you get salted, in a minor or major way?
1) If your first bite sets of the salt alarms… tell your waiter that you think (somehow!) salt landed on your food. And by all means, feel free to send it back. I know, it’s awkward. But it’s your health that we’re talking about. And just remember to be gracious and thankful and explain again why you have to be careful. No one can argue with responsible eating. And a smile.
2) If you don’t want to cause a fuss… or, in the off chance the restaurant does not want to give it a second go, then set that fork down, order another drink and make a frittata when you get home.
3) If you aren’t totally sure about the salting…and you eat the meal and you have immediate salt anxiety, BREATH. It’s one meal and for most people, this won’t cause you to go to the hospital. Maybe some elevated blood pressure, maybe some extra water weight. But if you are keeping to your low-sodium diet for every other breakfast, snack, lunch, and dinner, this is just a little bump. To combat that extra salt, I tend to eat extra low-sodium for a few days and add on a couple more minutes to my workout routine (to sweat out some of that water). But remember to consult your doctor and dietitian on how to best balance your low-sodium diet. Everybody and every body is different.
With these tips in mind, keep venturing out into that salty world. You may get hit by some unexpected a-salts. But you might also be treated to perfectly cooked steak with a fried egg on top. Salt-free.