Tips to cut salt in kids' lunches

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many children now consume as much sodium as adults and that’s not good. Here are some easy ways to reduce sodium in your child’s diet.

Cook with less salt

Saltiness is an acquired taste; the more your child eats the more they’ll want. Reducing salt in recipes by 25 percent is a positive change, yet small enough that no one will notice.

Tanya’s Tip: Instead of adding salt use herbs, spices and citrus juice to boost the flavor of chicken and seafood dishes.

Read food labels

Many foods don’t taste salty, yet they are high in sodium. Examples: Breads, cookies, diet sodas, and ketchup. One tablespoon of soy sauce has 900mg of sodium!

Tanya’s Tip: Sandwich bread can have 80-230mg of sodium per slice! Compare nutrition labels on bread packages and go with the lowest sodium variety.  When buying prepared meals choose a brand that contains less than 600mg of sodium per meal.

Switch from chips

Ban salty chips and processed snack foods from your child’s lunchbox and go with daily servings of veggies and fruits, which are naturally low in sodium, and rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, too.

Tanya’s Tip:  Kids love GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts/Pretzels) – another name for trail mix. Make it yourself with whole grain cereal, dried cranberries, apricots and whole wheat pretzel sticks.

Pick 'no salt' canned foods

Canned and jarred tomato sauces have almost 25 percent of the recommended daily allowance for sodium. Pick “low sodium” tomato sauce, which has less than 140mg of sodium per serving.

Tanya’s Tip: DIY tomato sauce is easy and delicious. Make it low-sodium using tomatoes, garlic, onions and basil.  Save some extra and freeze it so you will always have sauce on hand for lunch-size pasta.   

DIY dips and dressings

The average salad dressing contains 500mg of sodium per two tablespoons, and most kids use a lot more than that.  Make your own kid-friendly dressing with natural flavors that don’t require a salty boost.

Tanya’s Tip: Even kids love homemade salad dressing with oil and vinegar and fresh herbs.  Give them some dressing as a dip for chopped veggies.

Click here for additional information about children and sodium and tips for parents to help lower their family’s sodium intake from the CDC.

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