Researchers increasingly recognize that obesity is a disease that is driven not by lack of willpower, but a modern society and food system that’s almost perfectly designed to encourage the overeating of empty calories. And it’s made worse by more stress, less sleep and less daily exercise, setting millions on a path to poor health outcomes. Eating fast food is a major factor in the obesity epidemic in America. Too much salt is causing health issues. Healthy guidelines recommend no more than 2,300 mg per day of sodium for people over the age of two. That’s about one teaspoon of salt a day. The average American eats more than 3,400 mg a day, which is about 50% too much. The main culprits are processed and prepared foods which account for about 80% of this total.
Try these simple techniques to cut back on salt without sacrificing flavor:
Cut down gradually. It has taken many years for Americans to develop their preference for salty foods, but the trend is reversible. If you cut down on salt gradually, you won’t even notice the difference. Eventually, you’ll grow to love the natural flavors of foods.
Plan your daily diet. If you know that you’ve eaten something high in salt, balance it out by avoiding salt in the rest of your meals and snacks for that day. For example, if you eat a fast-food breakfast sandwich, have an oil and vinegar dressed salad for lunch and fish seasoned with garlic for dinner.
Change the way you use your saltshaker. Rather than adding salt automatically, taste food first to see if it needs more seasoning.
Learn to read labels. Check the percentage of daily value for sodium on food labels. You may be surprised that some items, such as frozen dinners, that don’t taste salty may contain as much as 50% of the recommendation for a single day.
Limit your use of convenience foods and processed foods. Processed foods and restaurant meals are often high in sodium. Cook your own pasta and rice instead of using boxed mixes. Eat fresh or frozen vegetables rather than canned vegetables.
Substitute other seasonings for salt. You can still eat tasty meals by experimenting with other spices. Try cinnamon on carrots, ginger on chicken, and lemon on fish.
Drink lots of water. Sodium makes your body retain water, so the other side of the equation is to drink at least 2.2 liters of water daily for women and 3 liters for men. Drinking water is the best treatment for fluid retention and will help counteract the effects of salty foods.
How to Improve the Availability of Lower-Salt Options in the Future:
Ask restaurants to leave out the salt. Ask your server or call ahead to request that your order be prepared with no salt. If restaurants see a demand, they may put more low-sodium dishes on their menus.
Buy reduced-sodium and no-sodium products. Some companies are voluntarily reducing the sodium in their products. Look for lower-salt versions of products such as breakfast cereals and canned goods.
Let the food industry know you want lower-sodium options. Overall, let restaurants and manufacturers know that you want lower-sodium choices. Support businesses that are working to provide healthier options. Send them an email or leave positive comments on their websites.
Public health experts estimate that cutting back on salt could prevent more than 100,000 deaths annually. It’s easy to lower the sodium in your diet while still enjoying delicious foods, and the health benefits of this one simple change are astounding.
Find a Nutrition Response Testing® practitioner near you and get tested, so that you know exactly what nutrients and minerals your body needs and what is causing your health issues. Once you have the individually designed nutrition program for your body, the nutrition coach can help you break the cycle of poor nutrition choices that lead to ill health.