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Shaking the Salt Habit: Strategies for Lowering Residents' Salt Intake

too much salt is bad for our health

'A little more salt please' is a common phrase, especially from the Boomer generation, many of whom are likely residing in aged care homes.

National salt awareness week is around the corner in the UK, and it has us asking the question, how much salt is too much?

According to the Better Health Channel, we're all eating far more than we should.

"The average Australian consumes almost double the amount of sodium they need for good health".

Why is it bad?

According to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), we should aim to have no more than a teaspoon (5 grams) of salt per day, so no more than 2,000mg of sodium a day.

Having more than one teaspoon (or 2,000mg of sodium) a day is not good for our health and has been strongly associated with high blood pressure, leading to other chronic illness like kidney disease, heart disease and stroke.

How can we help residents reduce their salt intake?

Embarking on a lower salt level is a real collaborative effort between residents, caregivers, and food service providers.

Here are some strategies to help residents get started on their journey.

  1. Educate Residents: Provide educational materials and workshops to inform residents about the importance of reducing salt intake for their health. Explain how excessive salt consumption can contribute to various health issues, particularly in older adults.

  2. Menu Planning: Collaborate with nutritionists and dietitians to create well-balanced, low-sodium menus that meet their nutritional needs. Incorporate a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

  3. Offer Low-Sodium Alternatives: Source and provide low-sodium alternatives for commonly consumed items such as broths, sauces, and condiments. Ensure that these alternatives are readily available in the kitchen.

  4. Use Herbs and Spices: Train kitchen staff to use herbs, spices, and other flavourings to enhance the taste of meals without relying on salt. This can be a crucial aspect of making low-sodium meals more palatable.

  5. Provide Nutritional Labels: If possible, display nutritional information, including sodium content, on menus or near food service areas. This helps residents make informed choices about their meals.

  6. Involve Residents in Meal Planning: Encourage resident involvement in the meal planning process. This can include surveys to understand preferences and feedback sessions to discuss the taste and satisfaction of low salt meals.

  7. Limit Processed Foods: Minimise the use of processed and pre-packaged foods in meal preparation. Opt for fresh, whole ingredients to have better control over the sodium content of meals.

  8. Adjust Cooking Methods: Explore cooking methods that enhance the natural flavours of foods, such as roasting, grilling, steaming, and sautéing. These methods can reduce the need for added salt.

  9. Monitor Portion Sizes: Control portion sizes to ensure that residents are not consuming excessive amounts of high-sodium foods. This can be especially important for residents with specific dietary restrictions.

  10. Promote Hydration: Encourage residents to stay hydrated with water. Proper hydration can help flush excess sodium from the body and contribute to overall well-being.

  11. Regular Training for Staff: Provide regular training for kitchen staff on low-sodium cooking techniques, the importance of reducing salt in aged care, and how to create delicious meals without compromising nutrition.

  12. Seek Resident Feedback: Gather feedback from residents about the taste and satisfaction of meals. Adjust menus and recipes based on their preferences while minimising salt intake.

After a way to easily survey residents on low salt recipes? SoupedUp Surveys can be used with Catering to get true resident preferences. Visit our Surveys page for more information.


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