Salt is a permanent fixture on most American tables and pantries. It’s present in high amounts in most of the foods purchased from grocery stores, especially those that are canned, frozen or processed.
However, too much salt impacts the functioning of an otherwise healthy human body. Many illnesses are exacerbated by too much salt, while some conditions can be attributed to an overabundance of salt alone.
If you are like millions of Americans, you may know you need to cut down on your salt intake but are not sure how to make that happen. Unfortunately, avoiding the salt shaker will probably not cause a significant enough change.
To see a significant reduction in salt intake, you’ll first need to reduce or eliminate your ravings for salt. This can be hard considering how prevalent salty foods are in our diets. If you’re used to salty foods, limiting your salt intake can make things taste bland. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can control the amount of salt you eat every day. Understanding what a craving is and what your triggers are can help you take beneficial steps toward reducing your desire for salt.
Pretty much everyone knows what a craving is, but not everyone knows why we get them. Many people believe that we crave certain foods because our bodies are lacking nutrients present in those foods. For example, some people claim that you may crave potato chips after a workout because your body needs to sodium chloride in the chips.
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Although this is a convenient and clean way of explaining what a craving is, there is no evidence to support that cravings happen as a result of nutritional deficiencies. They’re most likely just caused by social and psychological reasons.
Some fast food companies use salt, fat and sugar to make their food taste good with the least amount of work. Anyone who has eaten fast food more than once knows how it feels to be simultaneously full while also craving more of the same food. This is because the perfect amount of salt, sugar and fat is added to foods to cause consumers to crave the others in cycles. Salt is also used to mask the inherent flaws and unnatural taste or flavors of such extremely processed foods.
Consuming salt is necessary, but consuming too much is a problem. Salt is added to processed and fast foods as an easy way to make meals taste good, but it can also cause customers to crave these foods. Understanding how these companies use your body’s own chemistry against it can often be enough to make you more salt conscious. At most it may make you rethink the frequency with which you eat heavily processed foods.
Becoming a knowledgeable consumer is the first step to learning how to avoid salt cravings. Turn bad habits into healthy lifestyle choices by putting the following tips into daily practice. Not only does it get progressively easier each day, but eventually unhealthy salt cravings disappear altogether.
Some companies add a trace of sugar to their products so the flavor is more desirable or a pinch of salt to their mixes so you become hungry or thirsty for more salt or sugar at a faster rate.
The first tip to avoiding salt cravings is to avoid the foods causing them in the first place. Those would be anything processed, most fast foods, and even canned or frozen foods. Reading the label will show you how much sodium the food contains. Find a brand with lower sodium.
Some people claim that being dehydrated may mask itself as a craving for salt. Dehydration occurs for obvious reasons, such as not drinking enough water, but it can also occur during pregnancy. Drinking plenty of water also helps you feel full, which in turn fends off cravings for salt and the consumption of other foods.
Pure water is not the only liquid available to combat dehydration and therefore salt cravings. Certain sports drinks are nothing more than food coloring and sugar in water. Others actually contain essential vitamins, minerals and electrolytes and are great for replenishing depleted salt. Alkaline water is another option to achieve full hydration.
Being deprived of sleep can lead to poor decision-making, tired muscles and false cravings. Taking adequate rest each night helps significantly reduce cravings of all kinds and makes you less likely to make fast food purchases.
Most people get all the salt they need without ever having to add any to their meals. The taste of salt can be addicting to some people, and one way to beat it can be to wean off the use of it little by little. The longer you have been accustomed to adding salt to food the harder it can be to stop using it. In some cases, it is a medical necessity to stop using salt or risk serious illness or disease, especially because salt has been linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. This is why it is always best to use less salt than you think is needed and allow an adjustment period to totally remove “extra” salt from daily intake.
Willpower is an important part of altering and avoiding salt cravings. The more you practice avoiding salt, the easier it is to follow through with your avoidance. Fasting does not have to be a major experience. Simply do not use salt at all for one day then use it in moderation the next. Repeat that as applicable and increase the salt fasting days to two in a row and then three. Sooner than expected the cravings for salt disappear.
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