My salty little secret

Every Monday from 3 to 6 p.m., I volunteer at Canadian Blood Services. As I’ve already mentioned, this volunteer position is so complex I can’t believe they hired me. I am expected to serve soup, cookies, and drinks to blood donors, thank them for their donation, and watch that they don’t fall ill. Sure, there’s some juice and cookie restocking and occasional dish washing, but it’s a pretty lame position that I have mastered handily, except for my soup ladling, which could use work. I’m always dripping everywhere, despite my best efforts.

I chose my shift to keep myself awake once weekly during my usual rest hour. If I’m not napping at that time, I’m eating to keep myself awake. (Bad habit, I know.) It takes all my energy to get to the clinic some days, but once I’m there, I stay awake through my shift. I’m in trouble if I forget to take a snack along with me, though, since the generous pickings are slim for my liver-compromised body.

Donors need to replenish their fluids and one of the best ways to do so, other than taking in liquid, is to eat foods that are sweet or salty. That’s why the clinic stocks canned soup and salty crackers, as well as an endless variety of cookies. Because I am still trying to reduce my sugar consumption, I do not fall down the slippery cookie-laden slope. I’m focussed on the end goal here, so steering clear of sugar is no biggie.

That leaves the salty options, including the soup sodium bomb. As a child who walked home for lunch every day, I often ate canned soup to warm up in the winter. Since I’ve had to monitor my sodium, I’ve scorned anyone who indulges in canned soup, mostly out of envy. I miss canned soup and wish they made it for sodium restricters like me. Ah, the nostalgia I feel at the thought of eating soup from a can.

The past few weeks, I’ve become so hungry (or is it tired?) during my bloody shift that I’ve ladled a very small amount of soup, maybe a few tablespoons’ worth, into a cup and eaten it, relishing every drop. I feel like I’m committing a sin before God every time I do it. The guilt is overwhelming. I can’t help but hear His disapproving voice, “Hey there, pufferfish, yeah I’m talking to you, what’s the point of reducing your sugar consumption if you’re going to increase your salt intake?” Is it rude to tell God to mind His own business?

So far my favourite indulgence has been the vegetable soup, with the mushy vegetables and the tiny letter-shaped noodles. Today I caught myself searching for copycat recipes on the internet. I may have to make one or two or seven to try to replicate this little can of mushy sustenance, but I’m sure whatever I make won’t will taste nearly as good as the real thing since I’ll be leaving out the salt. At least God won’t chide me when I eat it.

Bowl of Campbell's vegetable soup

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