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Why They Occur and What You Can Do

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Do you find yourself daydreaming with popcorn at the movie theater? Snacking on a bag of cookies at your desk? Ordering additional savory mashed potatoes from your favorite restaurant? If so, your body may be craving salt. Although salt seasoning is addictive, satisfying, and necessary for survival, salt cravings are often a symptom of a number of health conditions.

To help curb salt cravings in the future, you can try incorporating a few food products into your diet and follow these tips to reduce your sodium intake. This will help limit your preference for salty foods over time.

How much salt should you eat?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, the equivalent of one teaspoon of salt. Here are some examples of how quickly sodium can be added to what you eat in a day:

  • Breakfast: A bowl of cereal with skim milk has 250 milligrams of sodium.
  • Lunch: One cup of soup with turkey bread has 2,200 milligrams of sodium.
  • Dinner: A slice of pizza and a small salad has 710 milligrams of sodium.

This equates to 3,160 milligrams of sodium for three meals — and no snacking — which is more than you should consume in a day.

Why do you crave salty food?

You crave salty foods for a number of reasons, often related to some kind of sodium imbalance. If you tend to crave salt often, you shouldn’t ignore this; Salt cravings may signal a deeper health condition.

Dehydration

Craving salt means you need to drink more water. A sodium deficiency activates the hormonal system causing salty cravings and your body feeling rewarded when you consume salty foods.

To prevent this from happening, you should always drink enough water daily. The Institute of Medicine recommends that your total water intake from all foods and liquids be 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women.

Do you find yourself getting dehydrated often? Following these tips can help you drink more water:

  • Carry a water bottle with you throughout the day, so you can get drinkable water.
  • Add fresh fruit or herbs to the water to enhance the taste, encouraging you to drink it more often.
  • Freeze water bottles so you have ice cold water on hand.
  • Ask for water, instead of another drink, when eating out.
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Addison’s disease

Addison’s disease is a disorder in which your adrenal glands do not produce enough of certain hormones, such as cortisol (commonly known as the stress hormone). With this health condition, you may need a high-sodium diet. A healthcare professional can recommend which sodium sources and how much sodium are best for your disorder.

Electrolyte imbalance

When your electrolytes are out of balance, your body may crave salty foods due to a water imbalance. According to the US National Library of Medicine, electrolytes are minerals in your body that have the ability to hold an electrical charge.

Electrolytes are in your blood, urine, and tissues, and their levels can sometimes become too high or too low. This happens when the amount of water you take in is not equal to the amount you lose due to sweating a lot, being sick, urinating frequently, or drinking too many watery beverages.

Electrolytes are important because they help balance your body’s water balance and pH levels, move nutrients and waste in and out of your cells, and make sure your nerves, muscles, and brain function. to the best of their ability.

Pregnancy

Experiencing different types of cravings during pregnancy is a naturally occurring phenomenon. Such cravings may include salty substances, although saltiness and cravings often emerge in the later stages of pregnancy.

Premenstrual period

Women may experience an increased appetite during periods of hormonal changes before menstruation, including cravings for salty foods.

Bored

Boredom eating is an emotional eating behavior similar to stress eating. This is a reaction to negative emotions and can happen to anyone, of any weight. Instead of emotional eating, people should address their negative thoughts with mindful eating, exercise, and other valuable stress-reduction strategies, such as meditation, spending time Spend time in green spaces and seek out meaningful visits with friends and family.

Stress

Your eating behavior can be quickly disrupted when you encounter stressful situations. If you tend to eat a lot of salty foods during normal, stress-free times, your body may be more comfortable under stress by eating foods that you normally enjoy.

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Food to prevent salty cravings

You can replace sodium with salt-free alternatives without affecting the taste. Options include the following:

Citrus

Using fresh citrus juice can brighten dishes thanks to the acid. When a dish tastes a bit off, a little acid from the lime juice can make the dish more appetizing.

Herbs

Sprinkle a small amount of oregano over your popcorn and veggies Mediterranean style. You don’t need to add too much, as this herb can have a bitter taste if overused.

Vinegar

According to Consumer Reports, vinegar can brighten the flavor of foods because of its acidity
content and used as a substitute for salt.

Free of calories and sodium, vinegar (with the exception of balsamic vinegar) can provide a hearty taste and overall health benefits. You can also mix the vinegar with champagne, rice wine, or white balsamic wine for a better taste.

Unsalted seasoning mix

You can skip the salt and use a salt-free seasoning mix, which is sold online and in grocery stores from a variety of manufacturers. Some products are available in shakeable bottles or packages. Be sure to use light; Press only a small amount in the pack and save the rest for a snack or other meal.

You can also make your own unsalted seasoning mix using any of the ingredients, such as onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and dry mustard.

Garlic salt

You can make your own garlic salt that’s lower in sodium than store-bought by using a three-to-one salt-to-garlic ratio, which is consistent with the flavor of most commercial brands. The study was published in the Brazilian journal Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências.

Garlic

Using a teaspoon of fresh garlic for a pungent taste in place of a teaspoon of iodized salt can remove up to 2,360 mg of sodium, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central.

Carrot

Instead of salt and butter crunchy popcorn, carrots can have a similar texture, along with anti-diabetic, cholesterol-lowering, and anti-hypertensive health benefits.

You can buy pre-peeled small carrots, making them a simple snack.

Potassium-rich salt substitute

According to a study in HypertensionMost people can’t tell the taste apart between regular salt and potassium-enriched salt substitutes that contain no more than 30% potassium chloride (so read the label).

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The study also notes that potassium-enriched salt substitutes can retain flavor and palatability for “food acids and amino acids; umami substance; and various spice and flavor blends” as long as a low potassium chloride ratio is used.

How to reduce salt consumption

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that if you reduce your sodium intake, you can actually gradually reduce your cravings for the spice. Taking the following steps can help you do this:

  • Limit your consumption of packaged foods, especially those labeled “instant”. They often contain large amounts of sodium.
  • Prepare your own lunch to bring to work, if possible.
  • Read nutrition labels to make sure the products you consume contain at least 2,300 milligrams of sodium, the recommended daily sodium value should not be exceeded.
  • Beware of vegetables. Eat only fresh, frozen, unseasoned vegetables, or use only unsalted canned vegetables.
  • Check protein packets to see if salt water is added.
  • Eat small portions when dining out or immediately cut your meals in half and put them in takeout bags to limit the high sodium content of restaurant food.
  • Ask for the salad dressing on the side.
  • Review the sodium nutrition information on the restaurant’s website before ordering.

A word from Verywell

The majority of Americans’ sodium intake comes from packaged foods, pizza, burgers, and soups. To limit sodium consumption, try using a mix of spices, seasonings, and crunchy vegetables to limit sodium intake and salt cravings over time. If you continue to crave salt, you can seek the advice of a healthcare professional to evaluate your nutrition and lifestyle.

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