When we hear the word “diet” we tend to think of eliminating a particular food group or category such as carbs, soda, or junk food. Guess what? A low sodium diet is exactly that! Except unlike skipping the bread or candy bar, completely eliminating sodium from your plate is exceedingly difficult to do. Much like sugar and sweeteners, it seems to be everywhere and in everything. But if you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, reducing your salt intake is a great first step, and probably the one your doctor advised you to take as soon as possible.

The How’s And Why’s Of A Low Sodium Diet

The recommended daily limit for sodium intake is 2,300 mg, which measures out to only one single teaspoon of table salt. That means that’s the most you should be getting. Believe it or not, the average American consumes over five times that amount every single day. In reality, your body only needs about 600 mg of sodium per day to accomplish its job of maintaining the body’s fluid balance. When you constantly take in too much, you start to retain fluids (causing swelling in the feet and legs), your blood pressure may increase, and you even raise your risk of heart disease, stomach cancer, and osteoporosis.

So how do you go about starting a low sodium diet? First of all, take that salt shaker off of the table. In fact, take it out of the kitchen, too, and experiment with fresh herbs and spices to add zip to your food. Next, limit how often you eat out because restaurant meals are notorious for added salt, as are processed foods such as frozen pizza, canned soups, deli meats, and pre-prepared meals-in-a-box. Watch out for those condiments, too, as they’re notorious for hidden sodium.

If you must buy soups or other processed food items, look for those specifically labeled as low sodium, very low sodium, or sodium-free (not just reduced or light in sodium). Most of all, try to incorporate more fresh vegetables and fruits into your diet.

These are just a few ideas to get you started, but believe it or not if you begin gradually reducing your salt intake, after a while you won’t even miss it.