It used to be that every time you opened a newspaper or magazine, turned on the television or the radio, you heard about the dangers of eating too much fat.  Well, now it’s sodium.

According to a recent New York Times article, researchers have concluded that if everyone consumed ½ a teaspoon less salt per day, there would be between 54,000 and 99,000 fewer heart attacks each year and between 44,000 and 92,000 fewer deaths.

So what’s that got to do with kids?  The taste for salt (or I should say, the salty habit) starts in childhood.

Sodium is everywhere and it’s wreaking havoc with your kids’ taste buds.

Most nutritionists recommend that 1-3 year olds limit their daily sodium to 1000 – 1200 mg, though the USDA more generously says to keep kids’ sodium intake below 1500 mg.

Most people think of potato chips as the standard for salt, and chips certainly are salty.

  • One bag of Lay’s Classic Potato Chips (1 7/8 oz) contains 330 mg of sodium.

But do you know how salty your kids’ food really is?

  • 1 small, milk-carton size box Cheddar Goldfish crackers (2 oz) = 500 mg.
  • 1 slice of a 12 inch cheese pizza from Pizza Hut = 520 mg.
  • 1 Oscar Mayer hot dog = 540 mg.
  • 1 serving of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese = 610 mg.
  • 1 Bruegger’s bagel with cream cheese = 660 mg (bagel=560 mg, cheese=100mg).

You would be better off giving your kids a daily dose of Nacho Cheese Doritos. 

  • 1 bag = 180 mg

Or Pepperidge Farm Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. 

  • One cookie = 90 mg.

Of course, you would never do that because you wouldn’t want your kids form those kinds of habits.  And that’s the point.

You don’t have to read nutrition labels to reduce your kids’ intake of sodium.

You simply have to …

  • Feed your kids real food most of the time.
  • Limit processed foods to once or twice per day.  (Let your kids choose which ones they eat and when they have them to reduce control struggles.)

Not only will this strategy reduce your kids’ intake of sodium, but it will make them more willing to eat fruits and vegetables.  That’s because when you reduce the salt threshold your kids are accustomed to, they’ll be more open to different flavors, including items that are less salty — like apples.  It’s all about their habits.

~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~