A quick guide to reducing your salt intake for better health

Have you ever thought about reducing your salt intake or the impact that too much salt may be having on your health? Most of us consume too much salt – or sodium – in our diets. But why is that an issue? Eating too much salt can cause high blood pressure and lead to other health problems like increasing your risk of stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease.

The fact is, there is a lot of hidden sodium in many of the foods we eat on a daily basis, and often where we least expect it. Some of the biggest culprits include purchased soups, frozen meals, processed meats, cheese, breads and cereals. So what can you do about it?

As part of National Nutrition Month and Salt Awareness Week, we take a closer look at how much salt we actually need on a daily basis, and how you can go about reducing your salt intake so that it doesn’t exceed it.

How much salt?

Even though salt contains some very important minerals that the body needs, as with everything it’s all about moderation.

Try to limit sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,300 mg per day, the equivalent of one teaspoon of salt, which is enough for the important role is plays in our bodies regulating blood pressure, acid-base balance, and within the nervous system and muscle tissues.

The bottom line is that excessive consumption in the long term can undermine the beneficial role salt has to play in our bodies.

Tips for reducing salt intake in your diet

Here we share some simple tips for reducing salt in your diet to ensure that your consumption falls within the daily recommended amount:

· Avoid processed or pre-packaged foods. As mentioned above, processed foods like canned soups or frozen dinners contain hidden sodium that quickly surpasses the recommended limit.

· With that said, always read the labels of packaged food. Be mindful of the fact that labels on packaged foods bought at the supermarket usually indicate the amount of sodium – not salt – so that’s what you need to look out for. So for example, 1g sodium = 2.5g salt. You can multiply the sodium value by 2.5 to work out how much salt a food contains. Choose low-salt or reduced-sodium products, including breakfast cereals.

· Be careful when eating out. Most restaurant and fast food meals are loaded with sodium. Some offer lower-sodium choices or you can ask for your meal to be made without salt. Most gravy and sauces are loaded with salt, so ask for it to be served on the side.

· Cut back on salty snacks such as potato chips, nuts, and pretzels. Opt for fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables instead.

· Slowly reduce the salt in your diet to give your taste buds time to adjust. Do not add salt to food without tasting and keep the salt shaker off the table to avoid bad salt habits. When cooking use spices, onion, garlic and pepper to make your food more flavourful instead.

We hope you found these tips for reducing your salt intake for Salt Awareness Week useful. For more information about how our nutrition workshops can support your employees, get in touch at info@selflove.today

Dietary fibre: How to eat smarter at work

This month is National Nutrition Month and to mark it we wanted to shine a light on something in the field of nutrition that might not be known for being sexy but is hugely important in our diets – dietary fibre.

Why is fibre so important?

Fibre helps to keep our digestive system healthy and helps to prevent constipation. Dietary fibre bulks up stools, makes stools softer and easier to pass and makes waste move through the digestive tract more quickly, enabling us to be more efficient at eliminating toxins from our systems.

In a nutshell, fibre helps you:

  • Feel fuller for longer (therefore helping us to snack on naughties less!)
  • Improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels
  • Pevent diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and even bowel cancer
  • Feed the good bacteria in your large intensities
  • Remove toxins from our bodies more quickly

Are you lacking in dietary fibre?

In the UK most people do not eat enough fibre (the average intake is 17.2/day for women and 20.1g/day for men). The recommended average intake for adults is 30g per day. You can see where this is headed…

Concerned that your diet is lacking in fibre? If you are experiencing any of the below, you might very well be:

  • Constipation/loose stools/irregular bowel movements
  • Feeling hungry after meals
  • High cholesterol
  • Low energy and/or disturbed sleep

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” —Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin The Physiology of Taste

Boosting your energy levels at work with dietary fibre

Here we share our tips for boosting your energy levels at work throughout the day, powered up by fibre!

Eat a high-fibre breakfast at home

Having a high-fibre breaking in the morning this can make all the difference between feeling like zero or hero, and will be a solid start to attaining your daily 40 grams of fibre. Think options like overnight oats topped with berries, wholegrain toast spread with nut butter and sliced bananas or a fibre packed smoothie whizzing up berries, kiwi fruit, chia seeds and your choice of milk.

Carry portable fibre-based foods with you

Or include them in your packed lunch if you take one enabling you to make enjoying quick fibre-rich meals at work easy. Here’s a list of the most portable fibre-based foods to get your off to a good start:

·       Raw veggies

·       Veggie or antipasto salad

·       Fresh fruit/fruit salad

·       Bean salad

·       Whole-grain salad (such as tabouli)

·       Pita pocket with hummus & veggies

·       Whole-wheat veggie sandwiches

·       Bean or veggie wraps

·       Canned beans

Not sure about the fibre content of foods? This Fiber Meter is a great app to keep handy.

Say no to temptation (we know it’s hard!)

The office is littered with tempting foods that have no fibre but are loaded with calories and additives that will make you unhappy. When a well-meaning colleague brings a big box of donuts – Stop, Challenge, and Choose. Quickly take a bite of an apple or a banana and feel that temptation fade.

Have a bank of quick and easy office foods you can have throughout the week

Many office kitchens leave a lot to be desired. However, these fibre quick-fixes are an easy addition to any workweek lunch, no matter how basic your office kitchen is and leave you feeling less hungry  in the run up to dinner:

·       High-fiber soups (lentil bean, vegetable, minestrone)

·       Baked sweet potato

·       Leftover brown rice with beans and veggies

·       Beans and salsa

·       Smoothie

·       Whole-grain sandwich, pita, or wrap – extra points for adding high fibre foods like carrots, tomatoes or peppers

·       Yogurt with fresh fruit

At the office party

There can be a lot of pressure to “submit” at company parties. If you can’t find any fibre and you want to be part of the party, just eat smaller portions and don’t feel guilty. Afterall, there will be other times for you to get your fibre.

The secret is to minimize your portions. Remember, a tiny portion carries the same flavour as a big bite. You can always take the edge off by eating a high-fibre food before the party, such as fresh fruit, veggies, or a big salad.

On the road

Things can often go wayward with business travel in the mix, with lots of eating out at restaurants where meals can be low ondietary fibre, so keep the tips above in mind. Here are some tips for ensuring adequate fibre intake when you’re on the road:  When flying, take food with you.

·       It’s easy to put something good in a resealable bag or container and slip it into your briefcase. Not only will it taste better than airplane food, it will also be more nutrient-dense.

·       Airports are full of unhealthy snacks: chocolate bars at the newsstands, aromatic cinnamon rolls, giant pretzels, ice cream. It’s like a carnival. But things are slowly changing, and if you pay attention you may notice healthy fibre foods are available also. This is a wonderful time to Stop, Challenge, Choose—go for something you find that is healthy, or pull out your portable fibre food.

·       When driving, plan ahead by doing a restaurant search for places that promise options by checking out their menus online. There’s always at least one high-fiber food on every menu at a restaurant, and some menus are simply loaded with them. That said, at a pinch, let the “home cooking” restaurant fix you a vegetable plate instead of going to that burger place or fried chicken joint. When you’re having a meal with a client or a group of colleagues, the temptation is to “join the crowd” when you order. This is a great time to— Stop – Challenge – Choose. Avoid buffets and beware of the bar. A cocktail while waiting to be seated can loosen your inhibitions and tempt you to order higher-calorie, low-fibre menu items.

·       Remember, the key to eating on the road is a high-fibre breakfast.

·       At breakfast, look out for porridge, muesli, and other healthy grain dishes. Add some fresh fruit and you’re off to a great start. Onwards and upwards!

·       If you haven’t eaten all day, you’re much more likely to overeat. Drink a glass of water when you first sit down, and another before you order. This will reduce feelings of hunger, and you’ll order less. Order a high-fibre starter, such as a salad, and eat it slowly before the rest of your meal arrives. You’ll feel full faster and you’ll eat less. When you no longer feel hungry, stop eating. Leave it on your plate or ask for a take-out container.

How to get more dietary fibre

Final thoughts

It can be a challenge in a hectic working day to think about your wellbeing, let alone your dietary fibre intake. The key here is making small but realistic changes that will reshape your habits in a sustainable way.

For more information about how our nutrition workshops can support your employees, get in touch at info@selflove.today.