Salt cravings plague almost everyone at one time or another. Salt is essential to life, but eating too much can lead to health problems. So, how much is just right? Adults and teens should eat no more than a teaspoon of salt each day. That includes every grain you sprinkle on top of your food from a saltshaker, to every bit used in food preparation.
Why Do We Crave Salt?
It helps to understand what creates the cravings in the first place. We crave salt for a number of reasons including adrenal exhaustion, mineral deficiency, pregnancy or electrolyte imbalance. Determine if your salt cravings can be satisfied by eating a salty snack. If you still crave salt so intensely you want to keep a salt lick on your kitchen table, it might be a good idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor to see if there is some underlying reason you’re having such powerful cravings.
Ruling out illness, your problem might be salt addiction: when you use so much salt nothing tastes good until it’s covered with the stuff. You can break the cycle of your salt cravings by cutting down your intake. As you get used to eating less salt, you won’t crave it as much. Here’s how.
Don’t Go Cold-Turkey
When attempting to cut salt from your diet, a surefire way to return to your old habits is to stop suddenly. Your taste buds will revolt. Unless instructed by your doctor to cut salt drastically right away, ease yourself out of your habit gradually, over a period of weeks. When cooking with salt, if the recipe calls for a teaspoon, use three-quarters. Then reduce it to one-half. Add less salt to cooking water, such as when boiling pasta.
Go ahead and use your saltshaker, but sprinkle the salt in your hand first, so you can see how much you’re actually using. Gradually use a little less each day. As you use less, you’ll begin to crave less.
When you’re cooking, if you automatically throw in salt from the box, try measuring instead. Understanding exactly how much you’re using can go a long way toward cutting your intake. You might be surprised to learn how much salt you're actually using.
Taste Before You Salt
If you always salt your food before you taste it, try tasting it before you salt it. You might find your dish is just fine without the additional sprinkle or two.
Be Choosy About What You Buy
Always read the labels for sodium content and pick the kind that uses less. When you’re poised for snacking, make sensible choices. Eat a few cubes of mozzarella cheese instead of potato chips.
Eat Better Salt
If you must eat salt, avoid the kind you buy in boxes at the grocery store. Processed salt has zero nutritive value. If the salt you buy lists no minerals on the nutrition label, it is processed salt, even if it's labeled "sea salt." Try getting your salt from the health food store.