How to Beat a Salty CravingArticle posted in: Diet & Nutrition
Many of us have fallen off of the bandwagon when a salty craving hits, and sooner than later, regret materializes in the form of an empty bag with a few remaining greasy crumbs. Sound familiar? When we eat salt, it releases dopamine in the brain, creating a rewarding feeling, leaving us craving more of those salty treats. That’s why munching on our favorite salty foods can become so compulsive and can push us well over the 2,300 milligram limit (that’s just one teaspoon!) recommended in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
According to Nutrisystem Corporate Dietitian Courtney McCormick, one simple way to cut back on salt is to make smart swaps. “Swap out cheese, which can be high in sodium, for lettuce or other veggies on sandwiches. If purchasing canned vegetables, soups or sauces, opt for low-salt or no-salt added options. Season your foods with spices and herbs instead of reaching for the salt shaker,” she suggests.
Here are some tips to beat a salty craving:
Make it at Home
Watching your sodium intake doesn’t mean you have to give up on your favorite snacks. It just means you have to get creative. Consider revamping some of your staple sodium-laden foods with better ingredients. Instead of buying potato chips at the store, try your hand baking some at home. Experiment with flavorful vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, beets and kale, which don’t require as much salt.
Try using different seasonings to add flavor, like cracked black pepper, rosemary, thyme or dill. You can also make ketchup, salad dressing and other condiments from scratch, which gives you complete control over how much salt sneaks its way into your food. Consider doubling dinner recipes each night so you can stock your freezer with leftovers. That way, you’ll still get the convenience of having frozen meals on hand, but you can be confident that they won’t send your sodium levels through the roof like your grocery store go-tos.
Limit Processed Food
When you choose a sodium-heavy packaged snack or pre-made meal, you are at the mercy of the food company’s list of ingredients, many of which can be plain scary. Many processed foods not only contain high amounts of sodium, but oftentimes, they also include monosodium glutamate (MSG), the sodium salt of glutamic acid. Food manufacturers add this ingredient to food to trick consumers into thinking their food tastes better. The problem is that MSG is highly addictive and can compound your salt cravings. It can also damage your long-term health. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, MSG damages glutamate receptors, which are linked to certain neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.
To reduce your salt intake, it’s best to limit your packaged food consumption and to read nutrition labels carefully. If you’re on Nutrisystem, rest assured that all of our programs are designed to align with the USDA’s recommended daily intake of 2,300 mg of sodium or less for the general adult population (Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020 – 2025). The actual sodium level may vary based on which weight loss program you choose and which grocery food items you add to your plan. If you would like to reduce your sodium intake, please contact your health care provider to determine if an adjusted meal plan is required. You can choose ‘Lower Sodium’ from our ‘Filter By’ menu option when customizing your meal plan.
Oftentimes, stress is to blame for those pesky salt (or sweet) cravings. When we try to juggle life’s many demands or deal with hardships, it’s tempting to turn to food as a means to soothe, comfort or reward our overworked minds and bodies. Instead of coming up with an excuse to chow down on salty food, remind yourself that you deserve to treat yourself right. Instead of reaching for a bag of chips when you’re stressed, reach for a journal, walking shoes or a yoga mat. If you could use a little encouragement, pick up the phone and call a friend or loved on. Start training your mind to embrace healthy stress responses and practice self-love, assuring yourself that NOT eating that salty food is actually the best thing for you.
The Leaf Weight Loss Blog is filled with tips for your salty cravings! Check out the helpful articles below:
- Nutrisystem’s Top Picks for Salty Snackers >
- How to Shake Your Salt Habit >
- Salt Cravings? What It Means for Weight Loss & How to Deal >
- 10 Healthy Salty Snacks for Your Late Night Fix >
- 6 Simple Ways to Cut Back on Salt >
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