5 Top Tips for Reducing Salt in your family’s diet!
I truly believe that eating well and eating healthily as either an individual or as a family is about balance. It’s not about completely cutting out certain food groups but just getting the amounts right.
One ingredient that is in an awful lot of the foods we eat is salt or sodium. A lot of it is hidden in foods where we’d least expect it (soups, processed meats and even cheese!) and for that reason an awful lot of us are probably unknowingly consuming too much.
It’s important to get the balance right where salt is concerned. We do need salt in our diet as it helps regulate fluid levels and prevents low blood pressure, but then too much salt has been linked to health problems like heart disease and strokes.
It’s definitely worth taking a look at the recommended salt intake guidelines for both children and adults (these differ) on your national health authorities website and if you think you or your family might be having too much, here are my top 5 tips for reducing your salt intake.
1. The Taste Test!
One of the easiest ways to reduce your salt intake is to stop adding it to your meals during cooking or reduce the amount you would usually use. The same can be said for adding it to your meal at the table. I’ve certainly been guilty of adding salt to a meal before I’ve even tasted it purely out of habit so try tasting before you add seasoning. It won’t take long before your taste buds get used to eating less salt and without the added salt you will probably start to taste and really appreciate the other flavours in the food.
2. Check the label!
Nutrition labels on food these days make this relatively easy and often salt content will be shown on the front of the packing using a colour coded system. Aim for the medium or low salt content ones and enjoy the higher content ones occasionally or in smaller quantities. Once you start looking at the labels, you’ll be surprised to see just how much salt is in things that perhaps would not expect like cottage cheese or cereals for example!
3. Shake up your breakfast!
For as long as I can remember, toast and cereals have seemed to be the “go to” breakfast food for a lot of people. They are generally quick to prepare and an easy breakfast that you don’t have to think too much about, but some cereals and bread do contain a lot of salt and you could be consuming a large proportion of your recommended daily intake before you’ve even thought about lunch, snacks or dinner!
If you or your family usually have one or both these items every day for breakfast, try switching to something different for a few days of the week. Here are a few great breakfast recipes that you might like:
4. Use Homemade Sauces, Marinades and & Dressings
Shop bought sauces, marinades and salad dressings often contain high levels of sodium and whilst a good tip is to compare brands to find the one that has the lowest content, the best way of knowing how much salt is in your dressings and sauces is to make them from scratch yourself. There are thousands of recipes online these days so it couldn’t be simpler. Here are a couple of examples:
5. Don’t be afraid to ask!
If you are eating out, don’t be afraid to ask if your meal can be prepared without salt. It won’t always be possible and it will likely depend on the types of restaurant you are eating in, but restaurants these days are so much more use to customers asking for slight alterations to their dishes so don’t be worried about asking and if you don’t ask then you’ll never know!