Salt lurks and hides in so many foods we eat, especially those adored by kids…like hot dogs, potato chips, and other highly-processed, brightly-packaged snacks.
While it is important to incorporate some salt/sodium into their diets, too much can be a bad thing. Excess salt for children can lead to a number of issues including high blood pressure (yes, it’s possible in kids), obesity, dehydration, and even pediatric kidney stones.
USDA dietary guidelines recommend 1,200 grams of sodium daily for ages 4-8, and 1,500 grams for ages 9-18. This is roughly equivalent to half a teaspoon.
To help cut out excess salt in your child’s diet, try:
- Taking the salt shaker off the table, or limiting its use to a few quick shakes.
- Encouraging a couple bites of food first before adding any salt.
- Cooking with fresh herbs, garlic, onions, or lemon juice to create a similar savory flavor.
Be sure to check all nutrition labels for sodium content, and eat these following foods in moderation:
- Processed cheeses or cheese spreads
- Canned soups and vegetables
- Deli meats
- Salad dressings
- Certain breakfast cereals
If your child has a favorite packaged snack mix, try making your own version at home and let them decide what ingredients to add. Think unsalted pretzels, popcorn, nuts, and seeds mixed with dried fruit…then package it up in a festive container. Homemade yogurt dips and nut butters, where you can control the salt, are also healthier options for kids than those that are store-bought.
(Adapted from HealthyChildren.org)