I’m watching daytime TV. There’s only so many times I can hear Patti Stanger shout ‘MEET. MY. MILLIONAIRES!’ and only so many times I can wonder about the sincerity of Teresa Guidice saying, “FAAAAAAAA-MILY is the most important thing to me!’.

So anyway, I’ve turned off the TV, and am blogging instead about how I cheated today.

I have that feeling of impending doom like when you’re a kid and you did something wrong and you’re on borrowed time waiting for your mum to find out. I feel have a vague idea what it feels like to fall off the wagon after a year without so much as a sip of shandy.

How did I cheat? I ate half a can of chicken soup. I’m getting over a fluey virusy buggy thing, and when you’re sick, chicken soup is like a big bowl of hugs. But not if you have Meniere’s Disease and you’re on a strict low salt diet.

I’m advised by the hospital people in the know at the ear, nose and throat clinic (which must of course, in a world obsessed by acronyms be shortened to ENT – *rolls eyes*) that a maximum of 2 grams of salt a day is best for Meniere’s. No caffeine either. Alcohol’s only vaguely been mentioned, so I’m choosing to drink more or less as ‘normal’. 2 grams sounds like a lot. But when you learn that a Chinese takeaway can have up 14g in, you start to realise that cutting down might not be super simple. And though I’m not one who ate takeaways very much at all, I’m a girl who likes her food.

Woman + bike + body board = happy

Woman + bike + body board = happy

As you can see by this pic, I also like to ride bikes, and sometimes throw a body board onto the back of my bike (when I’m closer to the sea than at home in Leicester) so I can chuck myself about in the waves.

So when I was diagnosed with Meniere’s, frankly anything that is going to help me keep doing this stuff and not compromising or lying down in a dark room all day is what I’m willing to try.

I don’t want to dwell on the science of it, as this blog is supposed to be fun, about cooking and eating and trying to keep the demon salt at bay, but there’s a few things I need to explain first.

1. Meniere’s has three main symptoms, all focused around the ears. The first is what the doctor’s call ‘aural fullness’ (I explain it to people like when you land on a plane and your ears feel like they’re going to explode). I have that every day, but not all day. The second is tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. I have this everyday, all day. The third is dizziness and nausea. I have this less frequently.

2. Normal people, as I like to call them, are recommended to have no more that 6mg of salt per day. Even this is not easy, when you think about the salt content of a takeaway.

3. I don’t just like riding my bike, I do it every day and it keeps me sane. If a journey can be made by bike I’d prefer to make it by bike, a cycle journey is not a second choice to me, it is a preference. Except in icy weather of course, when I turn into Bambi on spokes.

So that’s it. The scene setting over. This blog is about sharing some of the things I’ve learned about salt, and ‘outing’ some of the villains of the salt world. For the record, a can of soup is a major salt baddie. It has close to three grams salt inside, so a whole can would make me go over my daily limit in one sitting.  I don’t know why salt affects Meniere’s but it does, I cheated today and my symptoms are slightly worse. When I last TOTALLY cheated (an Indian takeaway over a year ago) I spent much of that night with my head over the toilet.

You don’t need to suffer from Meniere’s to need to cut down on salt. If you eat food (and something tells me you do) you’ll be eating salt, often silly amounts in food we unwittingly eat everyday, and too much salt is not good for you.


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