One of the hardest things about dysautonomia is the need to consume both large amounts of water and large amounts of salt. At first, being able to eat all the salt you want can seem like a dream come true. Unfortunately, I’ve found that after your 147th bag of Lay’s Potato Chips, it starts to grow old. Water and Powerade grow old just as, if not more, quickly. I’ve spent more time trying to think of ways to make my water and salt intake more interesting than I’ve actually spent hydrating and eating salt. Here are a few of the tricks I’ve found:
- Add fruit to your water. Fresh fruit or a bit of fruit juice works best. A few of my favorites are pineapple, lime, and lemon, but the possibilities are practically endless.
- Just eat fruit. There are a lot of fruits and vegetables with a high water content. Sometimes when I can’t stomach the thought of drinking another glass of water, a slice of watermelon or a few chunks of pineapple are a nice option.
- Drink water at room temperature. Yeah, it sounds gross, and it kind of is. But room temperature water is much easier to drink than ice cold water, and you don’t risk a brain freeze.
- Herbal water is excellent. Spas were really onto something here. Adding a few sprigs or mint or some fresh ginger to a glass of water is a good way to change up the flavor. Herbs and fruit also go well together. A little lime and a little mint, and you’ve got a sad, sugar free, non-alcoholic, watery mojito.
- Freeze fruit juice as ice cubes and use in your water. This way, your water is slowly infused with the fruit of your choosing, without losing flavor as your ice melts.
As for salt, there’s the usual: eat pretzels. eat potato chips. eat everything of the “thirty saltiest foods in America” list from Men’s Health. (Not that I wait for the annual “saltiest” list as a guideline for my consumption, or anything.) There’s also pickles, but everyone could have guessed that. But what do you do when these get too routine?
- Mashed potatoes taste good even with lots of extra salt added. This is good because you can salt your own portion, rather than adding salt to the communal dish and accidentally giving your fiance hypertension. (Hey, I said sorry.)
- V8 has lots of salt, if you can stand the taste. If not, try canned tomato soup…or any canned soup!
- Cottage cheese also tastes good with lots of salt. Don’t like cottage cheese? Most packaged cheeses are pretty salty, so you’re in luck.
- Lunch meat. As a celiac, I eat a lot of gluten free lunch meat “wraps”, which consist of a slice of turkey and a slice of cheese wrapped around a pickle. One of these for lunch usually keeps me upright for at least ten minutes.
- If you can tolerate it, you can always take salt tablets.
Remember that how much sodium something has in it is not how much salt it has in it! You have to multiply the grams of sodium by 2.5 to figure out how much salt you’re eating. Obviously, talk to your doctor before you try salt loading, because you may also need to take potassium, and only you and your doctor can determine how much salt you need a day.