Expert Guidance

How to Fight This One Powerful Craving

Designer Creative - Tuesday, February 21, 2017

You have most likely heard that consuming too much salt is bad for you, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many Americans are just not taking the advice. In fact, nine out of 10 adults still consume too much salt.


Why is eating too much salt bad?

Ingesting too much salt can lead to many health and performance issues with your mind and body. Salt causes blood pressure to rise, and high blood pressure can lead to type 2 diabetes, kidney failure, heart disease and stroke. An overabundance of salt intake can also increase your likelihood of developing stomach cancer, osteoporosis and obesity.


Many believe the best way to combat salt intake is to simply limit the amount of salt you put on food, but limiting yourself at the dinner table is only part of the change you need to make to have a successful diet with lower sodium. Many popular food items have too much salt before you ever have the chance to add your own personal flair.


Do you enjoy any of these foods?

Lunch meat

Soy sauce


Cured meats

Salted nuts

Frozen entrees

Fast food or takeout

Canned soups



Potato chips

Processed foods


Many of the listed favorites have a lot of sodium per serving, and many adults and children do not stick with serving size recommendations. Often, we think something is healthy just because it has few calories. For example, a pickle might have fewer than 10 calories; however, that same pickle most likely has well over 500 milligrams of sodium. That’s one-third of what the American Heart Association recommends of sodium per day.



The American Heart Association recommends adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium on a daily average, but the ideal limit is closer to 1,500 milligrams a day. These numbers vary based on a variety of personal factors. If you’re not sure how this applies to you, contact your local health department for a free consultation with a registered dietitian.


Unfortunately, many favorite foods in America have too much sodium. This does not mean we must cut them out completely, but it does mean as a collective, we need to practice more moderation for processed foods.


Instead of seasoning with salt, try

● Garlic powder

● Pepper

● Lemon zest

● Onion powder

● Red pepper flakes


Instead of chips for snacks, try

● Unsalted nuts

● Apples and peanut butter

● Low-fat yogurt

● Fresh fruit

● Baby carrots


Instead of TV dinners or frozen entrees, try

● Preparing fresh or frozen vegetables without added sauce

● Slow cooking chicken, so it’s ready when you need it

● Cooking in bulk one day a week and freezing your own meals for later

● Steaming lean meats with whole grain brown rice and vegetables


For one to two weeks, keep a journal of your daily salt intake to get a clear picture of just how much salt you’re consuming. Change does not happen immediately, and once you begin cutting down on salt, your cravings for it may skyrocket. Instead of trying an all-or-nothing approach, start cutting out and replacing salt one step at a time.



5 Behaviors That Will Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

Designer Creative - Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Falling into bad habits is easy, but learning how to change those habits takes dedication, patience and a little elbow grease. If you want to lower your risk for heart disease, start small. Instead of diving in all at once, use small goals to work up to an ultimate habit makeover. Over time, you can implement healthy behaviors like those below and start feeling like a better you.


Adjust your diet

Substitute calorie-free herbs and spices in place of salt. Use the Plate Method for measuring portions, and serve meat paired whole grains like brown rice and green vegetables. Fruits come in a variety of flavors and pair well with peanut butter, honey and nuts for a dessert alternative.


When grocery shopping, do your best to avoid inner food aisles. Replace morning granola bars with scrambled eggs. Start food in the slow cooker in the morning so you have a healthy meal waiting for you when you get home from work. Drinking more water in place of caffeine can also help improve overall health and lower blood pressure.


Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke

Just being around cigarette smoke can increase a nonsmoker’s risk for developing heart disease by about 30 percent. Because smoking damages the lining of your arteries, fatty material will build up. Once arteries become narrow from the fatty material, the risk of a heart attack or stroke increases exponentially. Find a free program to help you quit smoking here.

Cut down on drinking alcohol

Alcohol both raises blood pressure and works negatively with many medications. Reducing the amount you drink can also help lower your daily caloric intake and aid in weight loss efforts.


Walk 30 Minutes at least five days a week

Keep your arteries flexible by keeping your body mobile. The American Heart Association recommends frequent exercise to improve heart health, but exercise doesn’t have to be hard. Low-impact sports or walking are beneficial for anyone living a predominantly sedentary lifestyle.


Enroll in M Power self-management programs.

M Power is a collaboration of health departments across Southeast Missouri offering free workshops to individuals currently diagnosed with chronic disease, individuals at risk for developing chronic disease and those who care for others at risk for or currently living with a chronic disease. Research shows these supportive programs help individuals develop skills they need for tackling difficult habits and improving overall well-being.


Did you know that most Americans do not know they have heart disease until they have a heart attack or other chest pains? Find out if you’re at risk for diabetes, obesity complications or heart disease so you can make changes for the better today.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1,754,999 with 0 percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit

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