April 12, 2010

Prep Work

There is one low-sodium topic that we have yet to cover.  Although rare, it’s definitely important, and as someone on a restricted diet, it’s definitely a bit more complicated.

Surgery.  I’m having it.  And no, it’s not for any “enhancements” and no, it’s not a big deal.  I’ll be back blogging and cooking by Wednesday.  And all of this personal pish posh is beyond the point.  So let’s move on to the more interesting content.

For many procedures, doctors require you to take certain precautions to – I’ll gently put it this way – clean out your system.  But many of the products they suggest you use are high in sodium. So instead of a one-day cleanse, I was put on a three-day, clear liquid diet.  Um.  Yeah.  To say I am hungry is an understatement.  I can smell butter being cooked down the street. But if a liquid diet was what I had to do to safely have surgery, without risking high sodium and high blood pressure, then you better believe I was bound to do it.  With style.

Again, for most people, a clear liquid diet still consists of some “appealing” options, like chicken broth, sports drinks (high in electrolytes), jello, and juices.  But once again, the low sodium diet poses a few challenges.  Most sports drinks are high in sodium, as are pre-made broths and jello.

So, my plan was to make broths from scratch, use the Zoku to make white grape popsicles (so I could actually chew on something), and drink coconut water (not milk), which has a lot of electrolytes.  My goal was to stay satiated and hydrated, while eating liquids that were still full of flavor.

The first few days were pretty easy.  I made two separate broths in my crock pot, letting them simmer and thicken over night.  One was made with:

  • 5 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 3 stalks of green onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled but not chopped
  • one whole ginger root (small) chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of white pepper
  • 4 cups of water
  • 3 chicken drumsticks (with chicken meat still on)

Because I left the meat on the bone, the broth was very fatty.  Which, for the first day of prep, was a good thing – keeping the calorie count high.  The second batch of broth was a bit simpler and heavier on herbs:

  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 2 green onion stalks
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled but not chopped
  • 2 teaspoons of white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of champagne vinegar
  • 4 cups of water
  • 3 chicken bones (from first broth, no meat)

After letting them cook overnight, both versions took on deeply rich flavors and were actually very satisfying.  I would make them again.  Although, next time I’d add noodles, veggies, and lots of meat.

By the third day, I’ll admit, things got a little more difficult and eating something more substantive than liquid in a mug was a high priority.  Boy suggested I eat honey.  It is pure, natural sugar – no fiber or protein – and if you are like me, the contents of your honey bear are not silky smooth, like golden molasses, but are grainy and globular, perfect for scooping out with a fork.  Which is exactly what I did. Later in the day, I also found some honey sticks at the local farmers market (25 cents a pop!) and I threw a handful in my purse for emergency snacking when blood sugar dropped low.

So all in all, another painless and eye-opening low sodium adventure.  Although I do hope that this advice is rarely needed, if and when it must be put into practice, I hope it gives you a leg up in putting the low sodium puzzle pieces together.  And as always, I am not a doctor.  Nor do I pretend to be. Studying for the MCAT is pretty much the last thing I’d like to do with my weekends.  But for those who have so generously devoted themselves to medicine, I thank them and I encourage you to consult with them to decide the best and safest way to prep for your procedures.

Until then, more ice chips for me and good food for you.  See you in a few days.  Chow on.

charlove April 12, 2010 at 8:20 am

Good luck to you! I hope all goes well with your surgery.

waiwa April 12, 2010 at 8:36 am

good luck!!! look forward to hearing about your first real meal, post surgery 🙂

cyn April 13, 2010 at 6:19 am

Your recipes make even surgery sound like fun, which of course, I know it’s not. Good luck!

sodium girl April 14, 2010 at 7:44 am

Thanks to everyone for the good wishes. I’m doing well and preparing my first real meal since Friday! Eggs and potatoes. Doesn’t get much better than that.

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