Craving Salty Food? 3 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Sodium Intake

url-2As a child and teenager, I had a huge sweet tooth and craved sweets often.  As I started exercising, however, my sweet tooth turned savory.  And now, I like to fondly refer to myself as a “salt hound”…craving salty foods most of the time (except after dinner).  For the most part, I’m happy about this: Added sugar has tons of empty calories AND, too much added sugar in your diet is extremely bad for you.  Unfortunately, too much salt consumption is no good either.

Salt, also known as sodium, is essential to our health and well being when consumed in the right amount.  It is instrumental in:

  • Maintaining the right balance of fluids in your body
  • Transmitting nerve impulses
  • Influencing the contraction and relaxation of muscles

Too much sodium, however, can contribute to health problems – namely high blood pressure – which can lead to cardiovascular disease and kidney disease.  As a result, it is best to keep consumption to no more than 1,500 to 2,400 milligrams (mg) a day for healthy adults.  The lower your sodium intake, the more beneficial it is to your blood pressure.

It is important to note that sodium is found in both table salt, and in processed and packaged foods.  Is a matter of fact, much of the salt we consume is found in pre-packaged foods.  So, it is best to watch your intake of both.  In order to lower or minimize consumption, follow these tips:

  1. Read Nutrition Labels: Salt comes in many forms and it is important to understand the different ways it can be listed on ingredient lists.  MSG, baking soda, baking powder, disodium phosphate, sodium alginate, and sodium nitrate all represent sodium. Further, choose foods that tend to represent less than 15% of your total daily intake of sodium.
  2. Purchasing Foods: When possible, choose fresh, whole foods.  Whole foods do not contain any added salt or sodium.  If, however,  you do purchase foods that are canned, processed or packaged, always look for low-sodium or low-salt options. Also, try to cut out pre-mixed or prepared foods such as sauces, frozen pizzas, frozen dinners, frozen foods in general…as they all tend to be high in sodium.
    Here are some specifics:

    • Vegetables: When buying veggies, make sure to buy them fresh as much as possible.  If you do buy your vegetables frozen, make sure to check the ingredients for any sodium or salt.
    • Meats: Whenever possible, buy only fresh meat, fish or poultry. Processed and canned meats tend to have a lot of salt or sodium. Also, avoid cured and smoked meats.
    • Cold-Cuts: Cold-cuts are notorious for being high in sodium or salt.  If you purchase cold-cuts always opt for those varieties that are low in sodium.
    • Canned Soups: Buy and consume canned soups, broths or bouillon sparingly.  Try making your own.
    • Nuts: Avoid salted nuts and instead, opt for those that are unsalted.
    • Salad Dressings and Condiments: Many condiments and dressings are high in sodium.  Some of the worst offenders include soy sauce, teriyaki, barbecue and ketchup.As a result, try making your own or using those that are lower in sodium.
  3. Cooking:

Remember, you can retrain your taste buds.  Cutting out salt, little by little will allow you to get used to the flavor of having less salt and as a result, will help your body crave less salt.

Do you know how much salt and sodium you are getting in your diet?  Have you tried cutting back?

Originally published in 2010

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About Brett Blumenthal

Brett Blumenthal is owner of Sheer Balance and bestselling author of 52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You (January 2012) and Get Real and STOP Dieting! (December 2010). Her next book, A Whole New You: Six Steps to Ignite Change for Your Best Life will be released on December 18, 2012. She regularly speaks at conferences, spas and wellness centers, and consults on topics of health and wellbeing, as well as business strategy. Her writing is regularly featured on popular sites including: Yahoo!, Shine from Yahoo!, Divine Caroline, Intent and Gather. She has also been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Spa Magazine, Stuff Boston, American Fitness, The METRO and Organic Spa Magazine. Brett has appeared on NBC, FOX and CBS, as well as on Martha Stewart’s Whole Living Radio Show – on Sirius Radio, and Magic 106.7, Talk 96.9, and WBZ 1030 in Boston. She is a regular guest on Better Connecticut (WFSB – CBS, Hartford, CT) and MyFox – 25 in Boston. She has 20 years of experience in wellness promotion and almost 10 years experience in management consulting; including branding, change management, and training strategy and development for Fortune 100 companies. Brett has received numerous awards including: Shine from Yahoo! “Woman of the Year;” Divine Caroline’s Love this Site! award; Intent’s Best Healthy Living Site Award; and Healthy Heart from Nature Made. Brett received her MBA from Johnson at Cornell University, where she graduated as a Park Fellow; she also earned her bachelors degree from Cornell University. She is certified by WELCOA (Wellness Council of America) and AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America).

Comments

  1. Yikes, I'm definitely guilty of buying those bottled marinating sauces and barbeque sauces that are probably high in sodium. Good to know!! 🙂