Why Am I Craving Salt?

Does it ever feel impossible to stop eating potato chips until you reach the bottom of the bag? Sometimes you might not even be hungry, but you still find yourself craving French fires. As human beings, we are naturally inclined to crave salt. It's important for us to survive. However, we are required to consume much smaller amounts. There can be multiple explanations behind why you're craving salt. At times it's an indication of a medical issue. But most often, it's a learned behavior. Here are a few explanations for your salt cravings.

Why Am I Craving Salt?

1. Habit

It might be the case that you were used to finding salt on the table at meal times and saw your parents adding salt before they even tasted their food. So it became a habit for you to add a pinch to most of your meals. Since you're used to very salty foods, low-salt foods now taste bland.

Solution: Become conscious about your habit of adding salt to your meals. Try to alter recipes by adding a fraction of the required amount of salt or even completely eliminating it from the recipe. To add some zing to your food, spritz lemon over your meals instead of adding salt. Substitute salt with fresh herbs like mint, thyme, scallions, or parsley to add flavor and enhance aroma. Add a fraction of the amount of salt than what you're used.

2. Lack of Minerals

Minerals are an essential requirement of our body to stay healthy, effectively run the chemistry of neurochemical reactions, and building blood and hormones. Our bodies commonly need calcium, zinc, magnesium, and sodium. Most minerals tend to taste salty. Why am I craving salt? Your salt craving can be a message from your body to consume more minerals. In this case, the cravings won't stop until the body's mineral requirements are met.

Solution: To meet your body's mineral intake needs, consume high-quality multi-vitamins. Add sea vegetables that are mineral-dense like kelp, dulse, and nori to your diet as well as seeds like hemp and chia.

3. Dehydration

Sodium preforms an important function in our bodies. It retains the water long enough in our bodies to hydrate our cells and conduct electricity in our tissues. Activities such as exercise, alcohol consumption, and even a high-salt diet leads to dehydration. Once you're dehydrated, your body needs a little bit of salt to steady your electrolytes.

Solution: Stay hydrated by drinking up to eight glasses of water daily and more when you exercise. Keep hydrated when consuming alcohol by alternating one glass of water for each alcoholic drink you consume. This helps you to stay more sober and feel better the next morning.

4. PMS

Why am I craving salt before menstruation? The serotonin levels in your brain fluctuate similar to pre-menstrual hormone fluctuation, increasing the risk of pre-menstrual depression as well as the likelihood of salt cravings. It commonly occurs five to eleven days prior to your period and resolves once menstruation begins.

Solution: In most cases, you can control the symptoms through changes in your lifestyle, such as drinking more fluids, reducing meal portions and staying active.

5. Old Age

With age, our taste buds no longer remain as sharp as they once were. This leads to food tasting blander and urges people to add more salt into the meals.

Solution: If your blood pressure remains healthy, adding a little salt may not be harmful. However, it's better to use substitutes such as natural sea salt or Himalayan salt that contain additional minerals.

6. Adrenal Insufficiency

The balance of salt and water in the body is regulated by the adrenal glands. Why am I craving salt? Salt cravings can be an indication of low-functioning adrenal glands. Developing a salt craving that is new, increased, or persistent can also be an indication of an underactive gland. Additional symptoms of adrenal insufficiency include low blood pressure, weakness, fatigue and weight loss.

Solution: If you're feeling low on energy coupled with bags under your eyes and a craving for salt, it is important to get your adrenal as well as cortisol levels checked. Leading a stressed-out routine can result in an overproduction of adrenaline and adrenal fatigue, so try to relax and lower your stress levels.

7. Salt Addiction

Neurological mechanisms in the brain could cause addiction to certain high salt foods. During a study in 2009, researchers assessed patients who were previously addicted to opiates but were then undergoing withdrawal. Patients increasingly experienced a craving for salt and salty foods during withdrawal. Researchers concluded that salt might possibly stimulate the pleasure and reward center in the brain, as do opiates.

More Tips to Fix Your Salt Craving

1. Dip in Salt Water

You can create a condiment for dipping in fresh vegetables and even fruits by mixing half a teaspoon of salt with a few tablespoons of water. Dipping as an alternative to sprinkling can lead you to consume less sodium. Salt water can enhance the flavor of fresh veggies such as celery, tomatoes, or carrots, as well as fruits including apples and watermelon.

2. Limit Your Portions

To cure a salt craving, you can have multiple snack options and control the portions. You can try boiled edamame, baked potato chips, pretzels, nuts, popcorn, string cheese, soy crisps and sunflower seeds. It is important to check the packaging to ensure that sodium and calories are within your limits, as they tend to vary by brand. As packages typically contain more than a single serving, remember to portion it out to avoid overeating.

3. Try Cottage Cheese

A 4-ounce serving of cottage cheese can be a healthy fix for your salt craving. A single serving contains just 411 milligrams of sodium, 111 calories and a whopping 12 grams of protein. Adding a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar helps to intensify the salty flavor and adds only 1 milligram of sodium. 

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