Did you know that the US government is readdressing the guidelines on sodium? The new thinking is that adults should consume no more than 2/3 of a teaspoon a day. This means that most people are over dosing on salt, getting at least twice that amount.
But “I don’t add salt to my food” you say. That is the least of your problems! Processed and packaged foods are the biggest culprits, which use salt for flavor, for color and texture and to prevent spoilage. About 80% of the sodium in our diets is found in the pre-made food we eat at home. That does not account for fast food and dining out.
Why is salt addictive? Your body needs about 500 mg of sodium a day to maintain the right balance of fluids, transmit nerve impulses and contract and relax your muscles. When you eat far more than that your brain chemistry is altered. Eating salt triggers the release of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with the brain’s pleasure center, which makes salt as addictive as nicotine and alcohol. Therefore, eating salty foods makes you crave more. Often times, salty foods are high in fat and calories, causing us to gain weight as well. Salty foods also cause thirst, which is not bad in itself, but we often turn to sweet drinks, adding more calories. Diet sodas aren’t the answer! They are loaded with sodium!
How do you get control of the salt habit? Cutting back on salt can boost your metabolism and increase your energy. You’ll drop water weight from bloating. Losing weight and inches will help to motivate you to make low-salt a habit instead. Your palate will adapt quickly. Most of us have about 10,000 taste buds made up of receptor cells that live only 1 to 2 weeks. Therefore if you eat a low salt diet for 2 weeks, you will start to taste more subtle flavors and your cravings for salt will be less.
How do you cleanse your body of salt? Here is a 14 day plan taken from the book, Salt Solution.
- Start by getting rid of salty snacks and other high sodium temptations.
- Stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Eat three 300-calorie meals per day, each with less than 300 mg of salt. With these meals eat as much nutrient high density, low calorie vegetables as you like. (These include cabbage, celery, carrots, spinach, kale, onions and more.) They add bulk without many calories.
- Get rid of processed and packaged foods, as well as alcohol.
- Stay away from sauces and dressings that may contain added oil, sugar, salt, and calories.
- Keep a food journal. Make sure and write down everything that goes into your mouth.
- Drink a mineral boost juice daily, which provides potassium, calcium and magnesium to help rid your body of excess sodium. (See some recipes below.)
After the 14 days, you will feel better, look leaner and have lost some weight as well. Your complexion will be radiant and you will no longer see those bags under your eyes when you arise in the morning.
300-Calorie Mineral Boost Juices
Almond-Blueberry and Banana Smoothie
Combine 1 ½ cups unsweetened almond milk, ¾ of a medium frozen banana, 1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries, 1 cup chopped kale, 5 unsalted whole almonds, and 2 teaspoons honey into a blender. Puree until smooth, about 1-2 minutes and serve.
Combine 1 medium frozen banana, 1 cup fresh spinach, 1 cup plain unsweetened soy milk, 2 ½ teaspoons almond butter, and 1 teaspoons honey in a blender. Puree until smooth, about 1-2 minutes and serve.
Combine 1 cup chopped kale, ¾ cup frozen mixed berries, ¾ cup milk, ½ medium frozen banana, 1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango cubes, and 2 teaspoons honey in a blender. Puree until smooth, about 1-2 minutes and serve.
Now that I am not eating much sugar, I have replaced it with salt. Because I am sure I have become addicted to salt, I am going to give this 14 day plan a try. That is after I get rid of all the salt laden things I have in the house, like peanuts, mixed nuts, cheese, sauerkraut, etc. See what I mean about addition! This has given me some motivation to change. I will let you know later how this goes.