Do you crave sweet or salty?
If you have diabetes, you’re likely more worried about the sweet because of the high-carb count of sugary foods. But too much salt can also be a problem. A 2017 study found that people who more frequently added extra salt to their food had double the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But the exact association between type 2 and salt intake is not fully understood.
The real concern for people with diabetes is that high salt intake increases risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. And people with diabetes are already at a greater risk of heart and blood vessel complications, so further increasing risk with sodium intake could be dangerous.
The CDC recommends that Americans consume less than 2,300mg of sodium per day, but the actual average is about 3,400mg per day. That’s quite the difference! But mindfulness is a good first step, and it’s easier to cut out salt-traps once we know where they are. Here are 10 things to keep in mind:
1. Outsmart the Restaurants
Restaurant food is salty. It’s usually delicious, but it packs a sodium punch at fast-food chains and sit-down places. You can ask the restaurant not to salt your food, and definitely consider not adding salt to your meal, but there’s another way you can cut out a big chunk of salt from your meal: eat less of it.
Restaurant portions tend to include way more calories than we need in a meal anyway, so boxing up part of your meal for later meals that you’ll get two meals for the same price and you’ll split your sodium. Ask for a box at the beginning of the meal so you can set aside half. Then focus on slowing down and enjoying each bite of what remains. Eating more slowly helps you feel fuller, so it should be easier to not eat as much.
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2. Sauce with Savvy
Dressings, sauces, tomato products, ketchup, hot sauce, and even barbecue sauce contain a lot of added salt. Check for lower sodium versions and be mindful of how much you slather on. Try salt-free seasonings in place of sauces when you can and put your sauce to the side so you can control how much you’re having.
3. Select Your Soup
If you make your famous chicken soup at home and control the added salt then you’re probably good to go. In fact, making soups at home that you can freeze or refrigerate is a great way to do healthy meal-planning. But canned soup, and soup at restaurants, is loaded with salt. Reaching for the “low sodium” options is a good start, but note that those options should really be called “slightly less sodium” since they still have a lot of salt. Check the sodium content and pay attention to serving size.