Tammy Lakatos Shames reveals that the culprit may be something you never pay attention to – and that’s salt.
Host: Gloria Tsang, RD
Guest: Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD
People often think that they must have eaten too much food or carb, or not doing enough workout that is preventing them for losing those stubborn pounds. But nutritionist Tammy Lakatos Shames, author of a new book called The Secret to Skinny, reveals that the culprit may be something you never pay attention to – and that’s salt.
Gloria Tsang, RD: Welcome to the Nutrition Tidbits podcast. This is Gloria Tsang, Editor-in-Chief for HealthCastle.com. People often think that they must have eaten too much food or too much carbs, or not doing enough workouts that is preventing them from losing those stubborn pounds. But nutritionist Tammy Lakatos Shames, author of a new book called The Secret to Skinny, revealed that the culprit may be something you never pay attention to – and that is salt. Thank you for joining me Tammy.
Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD: You are welcome. Thanks so much for having me.
Gloria Tsang, RD: Now with regards to weight loss, people often talks about calories or carbs. And now it’s salt! Tell us what’s the deal?
Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD: You know the interesting thing is you are exactly right. We used to always blame carbs or sugar or often whatever else it may be. And sure, these are partially responsible, but now we know that salt is playing a key role as well. First of all, salt makes us both hungrier and thirstier. But an interesting thing that most people don’t know that research shows that it actually makes your fat cells fatter. And that is kind of a wake-up call for us all. Most people don’t think they have a salt problem and the truth of the matter is, a large percentage of us are actually getting two to three times the salt that we actually should. So the bottom line is most of us do have a salt problem even if you don’t thing you do.
Gloria Tsang, RD: So that is a problem. So how does an average person know if they are eating too much salt? Are there any indicators or symptoms?
Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD: That’s the thing. For a lot of us, we really don’t realize that we are eating too much salt. To be honest, if you live here in this country (US), most likely you are eating too much salt. One way you know that you probably are not getting too much salt, it’s just if you are sticking to really wholesome foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans. You have to keep in mind that even foods like bread contain a lot of salt. Unfortunately, for most of us, we are getting too much sodium. That makes it more of a challenge.
Gloria Tsang, RD: Tell us some of the worst contenders in terms of high salt foods.
Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD: Most of us know about the pickled foods but really it’s also those bacons, sausages, the processed meats are really high. Canned foods, processed foods too. Unfortunately, anytime you go to a restaurant or fast food restaurant, usually there is a lot of salt in there as well.
Gloria Tsang, RD: Sometimes, fry foods are salty. I think they sprinkle salt just to finish off the taste so often times, fry foods are very high in salt.
Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD: Yes, they absolutely are. French fries are usually salted. That is a great point.
Gloria Tsang, RD: It’s very easy to say don’t eat high salt foods then, but it’s not easy to do. You know at HealthCastle.com, we often talk about snacks with our readers, in our polls or in our Facebook group. They often tell us that they crave salty foods. How do we train our taste buds to crave less salt?
Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD: That’s a great question. The interesting thing is that as babies, we aren’t born with a taste for salt. We don’t necessarily like that taste. We are born with a taste for sweet and we really like the sweet. The salt (taste) is acquired. And the same way you acquire that taste, the good news is, after you cut back the salt for about three weeks (21 days). You taste buds like other cells in your body turn over. So that salt that you used to really like, you no longer will like so much. In fact, we have seen this with clients of time and time again where they have salty foods and then they cut back on the salty foods. Then go back to adding salt back in their diet, and suddenly they can’t stand the salt and think that everything tastes too salty. That is a really good thing so then you really start to appreciate the way your food tastes.
Gloria Tsang, RD: So how does one go about lowering their salt intake? It’s easy to say don’t eat anything high in salt but do you suggest people to try in steps? What would be your suggestions?
Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD: Absolutely. It’s not something that is going to happen overnight. Once people are aware of it, it certainly makes things it much more easy. Read labels and try to stay away from things that are salty in general. But as a general rule, if you are trying to cut back the salt in your diet, then you want to focus on those whole grains, fruits and vegetables and try to stay away from the processed meat and instead go for the fresh meat. Instead of seasoning your food with salt, season it with spices. Because most people are seasoning with salt and that’s where part of the problem is coming in too. And also stay away from the processed foods. For example, say your typical snacks are pretzels at one meal and maybe after dinner you snack on chips. Well try to change one snack a day away from the salt. So making small steps. You don’t have to change both snacks away immediately but start with the one snack that would be minimizing the salt. Also really read the label. If you see a snack food that has 400 mg of sodium per serving, you know that it’s going to be too much when you should only be getting a maximum of 2300 mg of sodium a day.
Gloria Tsang, RD: Every time we talk about 2,300 mg, people ask how much is that? As dietitians, we often say it’s a teaspoon or a little more than a teaspoon and they are shocked.
Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD: Absolutely. It is a challenge to relate to the numbers. For some people that feels the numbers are overwhelming, then for you try to think cutting back on the canned foods. Look at labels and compare products. For example, a lot of our clients don’t realize that oatmeal, if you choose the apple cinnamon oatmeal as opposed to the maple sugar oatmeal, the apple cinnamon actually has 100 mg less. Even if you don’t understand the numbers, simply looking at product labels will allow you to make better decisions. You will see some products are better than others in that respect.
Gloria Tsang, RD: Comparing numbers is the way to go. That’s great advice. Tell us more about your book.
Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD: It’s called The Secret to Skinny and it does have a large emphasis on salt but we try to make it easy for readers to follow a low sodium or reduced sodium diet and also really lose weight. So it’s a healthy eating plan that incorporate tricks and tips called salternatives (instead of alternatives). These tricks use spices and different ways to eating. In the back of the book, we have included lists. Lists A, B, C, and D. If you are someone who like to follow these type of things, where you can choose one food from each list and make a complete meal. It makes it really easy for you. Otherwise, you can follow the tips and tricks from our book to lose weight and get the salt out of your diet.
Gloria Tsang, RD: Great. Check out Tammy’s website nutritiontwins.com. Thank you for joining me Tammy.
Tammy Lakatos Shames, RD: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for having me Gloria.
Gloria Tsang, RD: We have been talking to Tammy Lakatos Shames, author of the book The Secret to Skinny. For more healthy eating tidbits and information about this show, go to HealthCastle.com.
Gloria Tsang is the author of 5 books and the founder of HealthCastle.com, the largest online nutrition network run by registered dietitians. Her work has appeared in major national publications, and she is a regularly featured nutrition expert for media outlets across the country. The Huffington Post named her one of its Top 20 Nutrition Experts on Twitter. Gloria’s articles have appeared on various media such as Reuters, NBC & ABC affiliates, The Chicago Sun-Times, Reader’s Digest Canada, iVillage and USA Today.