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How to shake the salt habit when you are dining out

If you are concerned about your salt intake and thinking about ending the habit, then there is no better time. In the same vein, if you haven’t considered the health implications of your sodium intake, you really should especially when it is coupled with the habit of eating out most of the time. Restaurant prepared meals tend to have more salt in them than home cooked meals and more and more New Zealanders are relying more on restaurants for their meals every year.

Sodium (a mineral present in salt) is needed for healthy living. Its deficiency has serious health implications. However, when there is too much of it in the blood system, it causes water to be drawn into the blood causing an increase in blood volume which in turn results in an increase in blood pressure.

Regardless of the social group that are most sensitive to high salt level in their bloodstream, everyone should be mindful of the habit. However, doing away with the habit can be harder than one can imagine especially when eating in a restaurant. Here is how to ditch the habit of spicing up your food when especially when you are eating in  a restaurant.

Pay extra attention to your order

Statistically speaking, restaurant foods tend to contain more sodium than home cooked meals. This means that you should be mindful of your order. This entails enquiring into the preparation of your dish and making healthy inputs into how you’d prefer it to be made and not rely on their discretion.

Familiarize yourself with the low-sodium foods the restaurant is serving. They are usually indicated in the menu. Even after ordering for the low-sodium foods, still emphasize that your food shouldn’t be prepare with much salt or any at all.

Go for salt alternatives

There is a myriad of alternatives which will give your food the same delicious spicy taste that salt will. Why not opt for them instead and save yourself from the consequences of prolonged exposure to a lifestyle of unhealthy salt intake? A restaurant which knows food safety practices will even suggest they use fresh lemon juice to season your fish and vegetable if you mention you need your sodium intake lowered while placing your order.

Apart from lemon juice, there are lots of other healthy alternatives to salt for seasoning your food. Some even produce better results in terms of tasty foods. For instance, you can use garlics, allspice, bay leaves, and so on, for your lean meat and stew and they taste great in them.

Balance your daily intake

If for any reason, you end up consuming a high sodium dish in the restaurant for lunch, ensure you lower the sodium level in the meal you’ll eat at home. This way, you will be maintaining a healthy quota each day. If you plan on eating out later in the day, make sure any meal you take before that time is significantly low in salt.

Another approach is to order as little as possible. But if ordering small portions isn’t feasible, you can try sharing with someone. You also have the option of taking half of your meal home. That way, both your sodium and calorie intake will be cut in half.

Mind the extras

The extras are as bad as the real salts. Such condiments as ketchups, relish and dressings also contain high amount of sodium. So, instead of allowing them to add much of those in the kitchen, request for these to be sent to the table so  you can add a healthy amount of it yourself.

These extra condiments and salts aren’t even the only things you should worry about. Be particular about some of the terms used in the menu especially when you are new to the restaurant. Terms like breaded, smoked, marinated, pickled, brined, and so on, might just be another way of saying your food was prepared with lots of salt.

Track your craving

Some of times, your excessive salt intake isn’t out of a lifestyle defect but out of a mind and heart craving (according to Lisa Barker- a health coach). You cravings say a lot about you, which is why people tend to spice up their food when they aren’t feeling their mind stimulated enough. The same happens when they are emotionally upset. For instance, the crave for spicy foods tend to be higher when one is mindlessly watching the TV, going through an unengaging dinner on a date or doing a work that isn’t intellectually demanding.

Therefore, keeping track of your cravings for salt can help you figure out some of the emotional states that make you reach for more salt at restaurants and even at home. Knowing what causes your craving will help you keep yourself in check and stick to your recommended daily intake of 6g salt.

Keep the salt shaker out of sight

When you have a craving for spiced up foods, you will most likely add more to your foods without even realizing what you are doing. Therefore, what you do is first develop the habit of tasting your food before adding any extra salt. Preferably, taste it when you haven’t previously had a spicy food so your taste buds will be more sensitive.

Make it a habit never to add any salt at the table. If ever you find the need, try other alternatives. Go for meals that have been prepared with herbs as they add their own spice making it unlikely you’d ask for the shaker to be brought out in the first place. Keeping the salt shaker out of sight will help make your resolve stronger especially as you will only have to worry about your conscious need and not the mindless shakings of salt into one’s good.

Conclusion

When most people decide to go on a health journey and mind what they eat, the food elements they are most concerned about is sugar and fat but most people never consider the health implications of salt. If you frequent restaurants then you have all the reason to worry about your sugar in take. Follow the above measures to cut down and track your sodium intake.

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Written by Megan Sashyl

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