I have to salt my food all of the time. Sometimes I don’t even think about it; it just happens. I just got diagnosed with borderline high blood pressure and I need to ease up on the salt shaker. What can I do? —The Salt Shaker
Salt Shaker, it’s a good thing you’re trying to drop the salty habit. Sodium is linked to hypertension and lowering dietary sodium does have a positive impact on your blood pressure. It’s great that you are aware and ready to change this habit for your health. There are a few ways you can start to eliminate unnecessary salt from your diet:
- Remove the salt shaker from the table. Especially because it sounds like this is more of a reflex than a desire. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Eat fresh foods as much as possible. Avoid packaged, canned or restaurant foods, which are notorious for their high sodium content. Cooking at home allows you much more control over what you’re eating.
- Switch to sea salt. Sea salt has lower sodium content, plus it’s a more natural form of salt. It can easily be substituted for regular table salt, especially if you use a fine grain sea salt.
- Salt food once it’s cooked, not while it’s being cooked. It’s easier to over-salt foods while you’re cooking, because the food is still changing. For example, a big pot of sauté greens will cook down to much less than it looked like to start. If you added enough salt for what once looked like a lot of food, you’ll find that the greens are way saltier than you intended. Even if you’re using a recipe, try using less than the recipe calls for, and add a pinch of sea salt for seasoning before digging in!
- Experiment with herbs and spices. Sometimes you may think you’re craving salt, but you may actually just want more flavor. A
baked potato can be livened up with black pepper, smoked paprika, and parsley, and homemade chicken salad gets jazzed up with a little curry or tumeric powder. These spices and herbs have a ton of flavor and offer health benefits, too.
– Stacey Antine, M.S. R.D., author, Appetite for Life and founder, HealthBarn USA
Do you have a confession to share with Stacey? Want to learn how to improve an unsavory habit? Send your stories our way to firstname.lastname@example.org, and Stacey will help!