Is Your SOS Free Diet Really SOS Free? Identifying Hidden Sources of Salt/Sodium, Oil/Fat & Sugars/Sweeteners
©Jeff Novick, MS, RD
Many people today are choosing to follow diets today that are called low (or no) SOS. The term SOS refers to added Salt/Sodium, Oil/Fats and Sugar/Sweeteners. To be more specific, it refers to any and all added sources of salt/sodium and not just table salt, any and all added sources of oil/fat and any and all added sugar and/or caloric sweeteners. It is not referring to those that are naturally occurring in whole plant foods that are still in their whole natural form.
There are two main reasons why people are avoiding these:
1) Health – Excess added salt, oil and sugar can contribute to health problems.
2) The Pleasure Trap – Many people find that these items trigger the pleasure trap for them and as a result, have a hard time limiting them.
There are many recipes available today that are being promoted as being SOS free but they contain ingredients that are either directly SOS by another name or ingredients that are sources of added SOS. Therefore, I thought I would help clear this up by listing some of these hidden sources.
The Following Items are high in salt/sodium and/or contribute added salt/sodium:
- Gourmet Salts (French Clay, Sea Salt, Himalayan Pink, Hawaiian Black, etc)
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Bragg’s liquid aminos (&/or) any other amino’s (i.e., coconut)
- Soy Sauce
- Nama shoyu
In addition the following items, which are often used in recipes, can be high in salt. Always look for varieties with no added salt.
- Condiments (ie, salsas, hot sauces, mustard, etc)
- Spices that are not salt free
The Following Items count as added fat/oil
- All Oils (Including Coconut Oil)
The Following Items are high in sugar and/or count as added sugar
- “Natural” sweeteners – Agave, Maple syrup
- Fruit Juice***
- Fruit Juice concentrates
- Sugar alcohols (xylitol, erythritol, mannitol, sorbitol)
- Barley Malt
- Beet Sugar
- Brown Sugar
- Cane-Juice Crystals
- Carob Syrup
- Coconut Water*** (50% sugar)
- Corn Syrup
- Corn Syrup Solids
- Diastatic Malt
- Ethyl Maltol
- Evaporate Cane Juice
- Glucose Solids
- Golden Sugar
- Golden Syrup
- Grape Sugar
- Invert Sugar
- Malt Syrup
- Raw Sugar
- Refiner’s Syrup
- Sorghum Syrup
- Turbinado Sugar
- Yellow Sugar
- Date sugar
- Coconut sugar
- Date paste, even if home made
- Date Syrup (date crack)
In addition the following items, which are often used, can be high in added sugar. Always look for varieties with no added sugar.
- Condiments (ie, salsas, hot sauces, ketchup, etc)
In addition, the following items are either refined flour or contribute refined flour, which should be avoided.
Refined &/or Processed flour
- Baking powder
- Egg substitutes (ie, Ener-G Egg Replacer)
Most important, do not take anything for granted, especially if you are trying to recover your health. Instead, always check the ingredients of any item you may be using.
I will be expanding on this list in the future and adding in more items and the actual amounts of salt, sugar and oil/fat that appears in examples of these items.
For those following a “low SOS” diet, you can review the acceptable guidelines for salt, sugar and fat in my note, “Understanding Food Labels. ”
For those wanting to know more about the Pleasure Trap and how these items can trigger it, you can read my article, “A Date With Disaster:The Pleasure Trap of Whole Natural Foods.”
NOTE: *** These items (fruit juice, coconut water) may be occasionally used in small amounts to enhance the consumption of healthy, very low calorie dense foods. For example, in people wanting to lose weight, adding a little fruit juice to a dressing/sauce that would encourage the consumption of more salad and vegetables, might be beneficial in helping them achieve their health goals. In addition, for people wanting to gain weight, adding a little fruit juice to a dressing/sauce that would encourage the consumption of more whole grains, beans, tubers, etc. might be beneficial in helping them achieve their health goals. The main point is to understand caloric density and how these foods may be used to enhance the consumption of healthy foods, while still keeping the amount of added sugars to a minimum as well as the overall calorie density of the diet.