The Great Grand Diet Trial Of 2011: August

June 12th, 2012 - filed under: The Food » Food Styles

In 2011 I set about on a journey to regain my health – a series of dietary experiments. You can read the backstory here. Prior to beginning these trials, I had used an elimination diet to clear up a systemic Candida infection. I was also healing my gut/digestion through the intensive application of probiotics via fermented foods and beverages, and it worked, because cultured food is magical!

The Test
In August, I stopped adding salt to my food. *sigh*

The Theory
Does this really require explanation? I think we all know that excessive salt is bad for you. And, unfortunately, excessive salt is my favorite vice.

Now granted, there are those in the natural health community that insist a high-quality salt is not only acceptable, but is actually an important source of trace minerals. And I think there’s some truth to that, in that sea salts and other unrefined salts do contain a hefty load of hard-to-find micronutrients.

However, using these quality salts in moderation, during cooking, should provide plenty of the supposed benefit. Liberally shakey-shakey-shaking the stuff onto any and every morsel that’s destined for your mouth? Probably overkill. I eat an incredibly mineral-rich diet, so it’s not like I’m otherwise lacking.

No, in my case salt was being used and abused in a way that was very mindless. And that’s what needed to change – for my general health, but also for my personal growth.

The Results

Where do I start? For one, this was way easier than I expected. Of course there were times when I missed that old saline siren, times when I think a meal really would have been enhanced by a bit of the old *sprinkle sprinkle*. But mostly, my resolve was set and I just didn’t even really notice. After about a week or so, my tastebuds had changed and I could discern the delicate flavors of each food, without relying on salt to draw them out. By the end of the month, I really wasn’t missing it much at all.

The other amazing, totally unexpected side effect, was the magical 5-lb “weight loss” that resulted. It wasn’t real weight of course – not that it matters – but the fat that without all that extra salt, my body didn’t feel the need to cling to so much water. I hadn’t realized that I was, well, a little bit bloated all the time. Just a little bit puffed up, retaining water. When I dropped the salt I also dropped the extra water, and it had this incredible slimming effect that came as a totally pleasant surprise!

Since last August, the little white temptress has definitely crept back onto my plate, but I don’t let her fly with the same unconscious abandon that I used to. I salt my food but I do it with intention. I find that using the healthiest, highest quality salts gives me a sense of appreciation and helps to keep me mindful and “in moderation”.

I feel like this final trial was the perfect cap to 8 months of ups and downs, to an incredible journey of experimentation and discovery. That something so simple – just salting my food – could be such a source of poison or of pleasure, depending on where I was coming from, inside myself. Isn’t that little lesson just the whole enchilada, right there?

August marked the final month-long trial, but it wasn’t the end of this project. Next up we’ll tackle September, when I began to put it all together, and then the holiday season, when I really had to put it into practice . . .

Edited to link in the rest of the series:

Putting It All Together

  • Becks


  • Rachel @ Rachel In Veganland

    You have no idea how happy it makes me to see these posts pop up on my facebook news feed, Sayward! This is something I know that I have to try. I’ve had some problems with water weight and this might just be my solution right here! Thanks again for a wonderful post and I can’t wait to read about your adventures in September!

  • Kaitlyn

    I actually just read an article about how there is really no evidence that limiting salt/sodium is beneficial, and can in fact be harmful! Though surely in the amounts it’s present in the SAD, it’s harmful. It seems as though you had good luck with reduction, though, so I say that’s fantastic!

  • Lou

    Wow, interesting…. I too worship that salty Goddess… you may have possibly inspired a “re-working” of my tastebuds!

  • Lisa

    Yes! Giving salt the boot was so easy and satisfying for me as well! I still use it occasionally when cooking and sprinkle some on avocado (mmm), but I take advantage of other flavor boosters (herbs, spices, vinegars) in place of salt for many delicious dishes.

  • Sarah C

    Oh, how I love salt. For me it’s not the on-the-plate salting that’s the problem, but the cooking process itself. I want my food to taste! and that means I probably add too much in the cooking process. Even without taking that into account I’ve noticed in my nutritional tally in (where I can input all my foods and track the nutrients – both macro and micro – in my daily/weekly/monthly diet) sodium is coming up at over 100% of the RDA each and every day (no idea what particular thing is pushing that up so high each day – I don’t eat processed foods, so it might be the nut butters or something). But it does make me worry – I don’t want to overdo it and I DO feel bloated. Ah well, anyway, I’m glad you had success at this trial and I’ll have to figure something out for myself!

  • Monika {windycityvegan}

    My sodium intake rises during summer, depending on how much (outdoor) high intensity exercise I’m doing. And since I’m currently training for a marathon – in 90+ degree weather – well, I think I have six or seven different types of salt I’m currently using. (I don’t salt food as I prepare it, though, so Mar and Ni aren’t using as much salt as I am since we all season our dishes separately.)

  • jill

    Perhaps I missed this, but did you just stop adding additional salt to your diet, or did you cook without anything salty (salt, miso, Braggs, etc.)?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I just stopped salting the food on my plate. I cooked as normal (maybe being a little more mindful, a little less liberal, with the salting-during-cooking stuff). But I did continue to use miso, tamari, etc, in my cooking. If I was adding soy sauce to a finished dish then I counted it as “salt” and was careful with it.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I think it’s all about the situation. I was definitely being excessive! But for most people, I don’t think normal salting, within reason, is necessarily harmful.

  • Suburban Snow White

    Holy cow! You’re back! It’s amazing how much our bodies will react when we remove one substance. I’d never thought about salt much until reading about this. You continue to inspire!

  • Liz Wyman

    Could you point me to what you have read about excessive salt being bad for you? In what ways is it harmful? I eat a lot of salt, probably far too much, but I’d like to know more before I think about cutting down.

  • Deirdre

    I tend toward the bloat too…and it is something so obvious…will try for sure! Glad to see your voice back online!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I don’t have any one specific source to point you towards. There’s a lot of conflicting science and a lot of different ideas. Like I said, I don’t think salt itself is an issue. It’s the excessiveness that becomes a problem.

  • Arisha Nasir

    We are limiting our salt as well. We bought himulaian salt, but I am beginning to beleive a reduced salt intake is still important. Your blog has helped me to re-enforce the idea. Thanks.

  • Pingback: The Great Grand Diet Trial Of 2011: May | Bonzai Aphrodite

  • Erin

    I hope you come back and post a follow up soon. I’ve been stalking/following on Instagram and Twitter and have noticed big changes in your life! I hope they are wonderful and going as you wanted :)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yes, lots of changes. I’m not ready to return yet, but I will begin blogging again some day. Early 2013 I hope. I hope!