The Overlooked Culprit

It's no surprise  that the main culprits of weight gain lie in trans fats, processed carbs and loads of sugar. Countless diets seem to hone in on one or the other (being it low-carb, vegetarian, or gluten-free,) making us all believe that doing so turns on some metabolic magical switch that creates fat-burning machines. In actuality it's real whole foods in moderation that keeps the weight down. Of course that's too simple to be true. And the trend diet was born. So while most popular plans would have you believe that their low-carb, sugar-free, fat-depleted menu is what will quickly whittles you down in size (which may be temporarily true), sugars, fats and calories are just some of the culprits that causes weight gain. The overlooked culprit - salt.

While our daily sodium needs ranges from 180-500 mg and the recommended level is set at 1,500, currently the  average sodium intake from ages 2 and up is 3,400 mg! But this isn't due to sprinkling more salt than intended over your dinner plate. Rather, you can thank your restaurants and over-processed grocery products for contributing to the sky-rocketing rates of your blood-pressure in our nation.

But instead of depressing you with more shocking statistics,  lets look at this practically. When your famished the first snacks you grab might typically be chips, pretzels, crackers or salty nuts, or if your weird like me, some spicy wasabi peas. Yum! It's common to have these salty cravings. Caving into them too often might do more than just increase your blood-pressure. Filling an empty stomach with salt will have the same effect on your appetite as overdosing in sugar or caffeine.

Too much salt increases an appetite for more salt, which will inevitably be accompanied by trans fats or processed flour. It's a endless cycle that will just end your evening overeating and bloated.

Use these ideas to avoid over-consuming sodium and learn to tame your appetite:

- Eat plenty of whole, un-processed produce, grains and clean protein.

- Snack on hummus and veggies, whole grain crackers with cheese or an apple with peanut butter instead of grabbing for pretzels and chips.

- Make your own soups and sauces from scratch for minimum sodium.

- Pick up low-sodium when purchasing canned soups, beans, and vegetables.

- Order dressings and sauces on the side at restaurants.

- Add fresh and dried herbs or spices. You won't miss your salt if you have fresh herbs, like basil, cilantro and chives on hand.

- Use sea salts for a more flavorful seasoning in cooking and baking.

- Lastly sure make you're getting enough protein, whole grains and fats at each meal  before sprinkling on that extra salt.