Addressing Salt Cravings in Children and Strategies to Minimize Sodium in Their Diet

Understanding Salt Cravings in Young Ones

Do you wonder whether salt should be a concern in your child’s diet? Are they constantly craving salt? Are they consuming excessive amounts of it? In this article, we will delve into these questions and offer medical advice on the appropriate salt intake for your child.
Help Your Child Develop Healthy Taste Preferences

Our taste preferences for different foods are shaped by what we eat early in life. If young children are offered a wide variety of foods and seasonings, they will be more accepting of new and healthy foods as they grow. Similarly, kids may not prefer so much salt if they’re given foods with less sodium from an early age.

Is Salt Detrimental?

The issue of reducing salt in a child’s diet is frequently disregarded or not given much thought, as we often perceive the risks associated with high salt consumption as an “adult problem.” Nevertheless, the CDC reports that 1 in 6 children have elevated blood pressure, which, over time, research indicates can result in early heart disease and premature death.

The American Heart Association recommends less than 2300 mg of salt (about 1 tsp) per day for children aged 14-18, with even lower amounts for younger children.

A 2011-2012 NHANES study found that over 90% of children aged 6-18 consume more than the recommended levels, averaging over 3200 milligrams daily.

Strategies for Decreasing Sodium in Your Child’s Diet

How can families strive to reduce their overall salt consumption in their daily meals? This issue should be addressed as a family unit since everyone can benefit from lowered sodium intake.
The same NHANES study discovered that 50% of children’s salt intake comes from just 10 foods, including pizza, bread, deli meats, chips/crackers, hamburgers, cheese, breaded chicken products, pasta with sauce, Mexican dishes like burritos and tacos, and soups. Limiting these foods can significantly decrease salt consumption.

Helpful Suggestions:

  • Examine Nutrition Fact Labels – aim for under 200 mg of salt per serving
  • Limit processed foods (such as canned soups, boxed meal dishes, and frozen pizza) as these often are quite high in sodium. As often as possible, consume items in their natural, unprocessed state, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. If using canned vegetables, rinse with water before preparing.
  • Involve children in cooking healthy options, which helps them accept and enjoy these foods
  • For the entire family, remove saltshakers from the table and prepare cooked meals with flavorful herbs and spices that don’t contain salt. If you typically cook with salt, consider reducing the amount by half.

By making conscious efforts to adjust our family’s daily salt intake, we can significantly improve our long-term health prospects! For more valuable wellness tips and support, feel free to schedule an appointment with one of the Youth Clinic’s Registered Dietitians.

About The Youth Clinic

The Youth Clinic‘s providers are specialists in treating infants, children, and young adults in Northern Colorado.
For 50 years, we have cared for generations of local youth and take pride in our role as both a partner and resource for parents in their children’s development. Our state-of-the-art facilities offer a comfortable and inviting atmosphere where we deliver the finest medical treatment available.

If you are new to the area, transferring care from another clinic, seeking a new provider for your child, or have heard about our clinic and want to learn more, fill out our new patient form and get started with The Youth Clinic today!

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