A table is split down the middle. On the left, two hands are pushing away junk food, takeout, beer, and a TV dinner. On the right, two hands are eating a homemade meal of peas, mushrooms, corn, pork chop, and rice off a plate.

A Lot Less Salt(y)

It has been about five days since I made the decision to reduce my sodium intake in order to lower my blood pressure.

Starting a low sodium diet

I think I always knew but at my last doctor’s appointment, it really hit me on how much of my overall well-being, especially my vision, was impacted by my blood pressure. Immediately after the appointment, I googled low sodium snack ideas, because snacks are my kryptonite.

Editor's note:Read Christina's article: A Lot Salty to learn more about how high blood pressure has impacted her life and her vision.

Finding snacks and support

Popular low sodium snacks are air-popped popcorn, hummus and carrots, guacamole, fresh fruits and vegetables, and yogurt with granola. I called one of my good friends right after and processed my recent doctor’s appointment. I informed her of all the emotions that I was feeling, and we developed a plan. It is important to me to share with at least one person so that I can get it out of my head, be affirmed, encouraged, and held accountable.

Grocery shopping with a visual impairment

Then I went to the grocery store and began to look for healthy snacks. I discussed in previous articles about the difficulties of shopping alone with a visual impairment, now couple that with actively reading labels in an effort to pick the lower sodium option and it is a whole situation.

I made a decision that I would try to eat whole foods and make most of my meals from scratch. This would allow me to control the amount of sodium I consume and alleviate the frustration of searching in the markets for lower sodium or unsalted products. I also decided to bring my ruby magnifier to the market so that I could begin to read the labels. I am still learning about what all the percentages mean and how much is an appropriate amount of sodium to ingest daily.

Low sodium: A lifestyle not a diet

I have been watching videos about the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet. This diet is more of a lifestyle change in how a person can approach healthy eating specifically aimed at helping, treating, and/or preventing high blood pressure.

This approach is sponsored by the National Institute of Health as a diet that does not rely on medication. I have found so many DASH friendly meal ideas that have been delicious, simple, and filling! One of my favorites I made this week was fresh guacamole, super simple with just: two avocados, fresh lime juice, half a yellow onion, and crushed red peppers. It was so tasty and my favorite part was that it was a great snack.

Committing to a healthy lifestyle for my eyes and my well-being

I decided to make a conscious effort to get rid of all of the food in my house that was packaged, canned, and had a high amount of sodium. I am actively swapping out high-sodium items for low-sodium or unsalted. My journey has just begun and I can already feel the difference. To be honest, it is so frustrating mentally and physically to reduce my sodium intake because (with the exception of fresh fruits and vegetables) the majority of the foods I enjoy or are convenient for me to just grab include lots of sodium.

The Climb: Striving to lower my blood pressure

There’s always gonna be another mountain. I’m always gonna wanna make it move. Always gonna be an uphill battle. Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose. Ain’t about how fast I get there. Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side. It’s the climb - The Climb, Miley Cyrus. Recognizing and addressing my high blood pressure is in a sense a mountain. Lowering my blood pressure is definitely a process, but the lifestyle change will enhance my health in many ways... at least that’s the way eye see it.

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