Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Who's Counting?

My nephrologist has me on a strict low-sodium diet: 1,500 mg a day -- which equates to less than one teaspoon of table salt. The diet is challenging but doable at home and nearly impossible when dining out at a restaurant. Do you realize how much sodium is contained in most restaurant dishes? It's unreal. 

Luckily, many restaurants have websites with easy-to-use nutritional calculators so that I can plan ahead. That's what I did the other night, when it was 7:30 p.m., I was still at work, and I knew I was never going to make my one-hour commute home without stopping on the way. I was determined to make a good choice, but I also wanted what I wanted. And that was Chipotle. 

I used Chipotle's calculator like a mad scientist, making choices, changing ingredients, and doing everything I could to keep my desired meal under 1,500 mg. My sodium count for the day was miniscule, thanks to Kashi Whole Wheat Biscuits Cinnamon Harvest sodium free cereal for breakfast and leftover baked chicken for lunch (no sauce or dressing).

My choice: a burrito bowl with rice, black beans, fajita veggies, sour cream, cheese, guacamole and tomato salsa that checked in at 1,490 mg. I should have ditched the salsa and the guacamole, but where's the fun in that?

I was over my sodium count for the day, but no one had to know. It would be my little secret.

Until my nephrologist walked into Chipotle and stood in line with her husband, about two feet away from me. I wanted to curl my arm around my burrito bowl, draw it close to me, and say, "Eyes up here, lady. No looking at the bowl." Or scream "FIRE!!" and hope she sprinted out before seeing me. I was having a hand-in-the-cookie-jar moment.

My panic was fleeting, thankfully. She immediately recognized me, gave me a big smile, introduced me to her husband, asked how I was feeling, and then went about her life. And I went about mine. 

She never once looked at my bowl of food.

And I enjoyed every bite.