Eating healthy with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) often means making changes to your current eating habits. One of the most important changes a person with COPD can make to his or her diet is reducing daily salt (or sodium) intake because, according to the Cleveland Clinic, consuming excess salt causes the body to retain too much water, making breathing more difficult.
If you’ve been diagnosed with COPD and have a taste for all things salty, try these tips for reducing your daily salt intake:
- Better Understand Nutrition Labels: The first step in reducing your salt intake is understanding just how much salt you’re actually consuming. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), current dietary guidelines for Americans recommend adults in general should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Six in 10 adults, including those with diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic diseases, should aim for 1,500 mg a day. Consult your doctor on how much sodium you should consume daily, then reference this post to learn how to better understand nutrition fact labels.
- Opt Out of Eating Out: Dining out with COPD can be a real pleasure when you plan ahead, but be wary of where you choose to eat. Food from convenience restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Pizza Hut not only account for more than 11 percent of calories in American adults’ daily diets, about 35 percent of your daily sodium comes from restaurant meals, too, according to everydayhealth.com.
- Hide the Saltshaker: Remove the saltshaker from your dining room table and resist the urge to add salt to foods while cooking. Better yet, hide the saltshaker in the back of the pantry, so it’s more of a chore for you to retrieve it! Foods like bread, lunch meats, poultry, pizza, soups, cheeseburgers and pasta are already high in sodium, so they really don’t need additional salt flavoring.
- Use Alternative Methods of Flavoring: If you feel your food simply tastes bland without salt, try seasoning it with citrus juices, other herbs or no-salt spices. Not only will these alternative methods of flavoring give your taste buds the extra kick they desire, you may reap health benefits from their use.
- Don’t Be Fooled: “Sea salt, iodized salt, kosher salt – it’s all salt,” says Holly Herrington, a registered dietitian in the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation on everydayhealth.com. Don’t be fooled into thinking one type of salt is healthier than another.
While reducing your daily salt intake and adapting your overall eating habits will not cure your COPD, it can help you feel happier and healthier. For more tips on COPD nutrition, download the free guide “Staying Healthy with COPD.”