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How do I Stop Craving Salt?

By Bethany Keene
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

A food craving is typically the body's way of letting you know of a nutrient deficiency. Craving salt, for instance, usually means that the body is lacking in sodium, which the brain will interpret as a request for one's favorite salty food, even if it is unhealthy. Craving salt is extremely common; most people crave either salt or sugar, and there are a few ways to get over these cravings and stop eating unhealthy foods.

A craving for salt can indicate a need to drink more water, so it is a good first step to try to cut back on soft drinks or other beverages that are high in sodium, and try to drink eight glasses of water per day. Though it may seem counter-intuitive to cut back on a sodium-heavy drink when craving salt, the truth is that the more salt you consume, the more you will want to consume. The next step to stop craving salt is to get sodium from natural sources.

Vegetables, particularly leafy greens and celery, as well as fruits, should provide all the sodium the body needs, and in a much healthier manner. Be sure to incorporate servings of fruit and vegetables into each meal to be sure that you are getting the daily requirement for sodium. In addition, fruits and vegetables are much healthier alternative snacks than salty foods such as chips or pretzels.

Another way to stop craving salt is to make additional changes to the diet. Though prepackaged foods, canned goods, and frozen meals are quick and easy, they are also loaded with sodium in much larger quantities than the body needs. When these astronomical amounts of sodium are consumed at each meal, the body begins to crave it more and more, and the taste buds begin to adapt. This means that you will need to eat even more salt to satisfy the cravings.

Instead of eating prepackaged foods, try cooking recipes at home, with fresh ingredients. Don't add extra salt once the dish has been made. Food at restaurants is notoriously high in salt as well, so try to avoid eating out as much as possible. It is difficult to stop craving salt, but reducing salt in the diet can lead to weight loss, more energy, lower blood pressure, and other benefits that come from eating a healthy diet. With persistence, it will be possible to stop craving salt and to start eating healthy.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon281941 — On Jul 26, 2012

I crave everything in one sitting. I think my taste buds go crazy over flavor, but also I have a deep desire for sweets -- a deep, deep craving! I can't get over it, once I take it in. I start to go for chips as well. In one sitting I can finish four small cupcakes, a 500 ml chocolate milk drink, a cup of mango ice cream, 10 pieces of malteser, a bag of potato chips, four pieces of cheese sambousek (fried feta cheese in wrappers) and a bowl of spaghetti with chicken, spinach and parmesan. I'm always like this. Once I pop, I can't stop, even if my tummy is already full. Help!

By anon233907 — On Dec 09, 2011

This is a bit erroneous in a possibly dangerous way.

Salt cravings can have multiple sources. If you constantly crave salt, depending on the severity of the craving, you might have a deficiency or renal malfunction instead. Cutting back on salt in these cases could be detrimental to your body. Your neurons need extracellular sodium to function properly, which is why both too much and too little sodium is bad for you. In severe cases, heavy long term sodium depletion could cause permanent damage to your nervous system.

Always check with a doctor before trying to solve a health concern, even if it's a "trivial" one like a craving!

By Tomislav — On Jul 21, 2011

I love everyone sharing some of their struggles with salt cravings.

One of the reasons for craving salt that I kept running into was that it helped me 'taste' more of my food. It turns I don't have a great sense of smell, which affects my ability to taste. And as we all know, salt is something that you can add to your food that easily makes it tastier.

So what I found was that if I added more spices with strong flavors to food, whether I added chili sauce, hot sauce, garlic, etc. it helped reduce my cravings for salt. However, I am always looking for new ideas to curb my salt cravings so I loved reading everyone's different ideas on their ways to curb their cravings.

Now if I can just figure out my sweet tooth...

By amysamp — On Jul 20, 2011

My husband's dad has all sorts of heart problems and his doctor ordered him to reduce his salt.

As my husband's dad was in his 60's and had always loved salt this was very difficult for him to do. Since we are not always around, we can't be sure how much salt he is eating. But we do know he uses a salt substitute at least when he is around us, and he says he likes it.

By OeKc05 — On Jul 20, 2011

Man, you're not kidding about restaurant food being salty! It makes me cringe to look at some of the nutrition information of many big restaurant's dishes because the salt intake is so, so high. I have to watch my salt consumption for health reasons, and it is almost impossible to find a restaurant where I can actually eat!

By Oceana — On Jul 20, 2011

@kylee07drg - I see you mentioned celery salt. My mother’s doctor actually recommended that she start using celery salt in the place of regular salt on things that really need some extra flavor. She likes the taste of it.

I like putting celery salt on tomatoes. I eat them cut up on top of a bed of leafy greens with chopped celery scattered around. I also make homemade crutons using toast, unsalted butter, minced garlic, and parsley. All this flavor keeps me from needing to pour on a salty dressing.

I find that sliced tomatoes provide enough flavor when eaten by themselves. I have no desire to salt them anymore. I also eat celery alone because it really satisfies the part of me that craves salt.

By kylee07drg — On Jul 19, 2011

After my doctor diagnosed me with high blood pressure and recommended I reduce my salt intake, I knew I had to make a major dietary change. I had gotten so used to eating TV dinners for lunch that were jam packed with sodium and snacking on chips that this was a huge lifestyle change for me, but I knew that I had to do it for my health.

I bought low sodium saltines and soup. The saltines were all right, but the soup was hard to love. I found that if I added a few herbs or celery salt to it, it made up for the lack in flavor. I also started buying reduced sodium potato chips, because I could not quit cold turkey. Speaking of cold turkey, I bought some reduced sodium turkey cold cuts as well.

I knew that I was on the right track when I tasted some regular chips and crackers at a friend’s party and the taste of sodium overwhelmed me. Everything tasted way too salty, and I was happy to go back home to my low sodium snacks.

By Perdido — On Jul 19, 2011

I became determined to eat healthier after I gained 15 pounds. I knew that reducing my sodium intake was a must, but I had become so accustomed to salty chips that I knew I would have to take gradual steps to wean myself off of salt.

I started by eating more celery. I don’t like celery by itself, so I bought some reduced sodium peanut butter to spread on it. It took some getting used to, but I started to like it after a few tries.

I also started eating a mix of leafy greens with reduced sodium raspberry vinaigrette dressing. I love the flavor that it gives the salad.

By Denha — On Jul 18, 2011

Sometimes craving salt means you have a deficiency, but it could also be a more complicated disorder if you try to increase your intake of other nutrients, and water and it does not go away. In that case, go to a doctor; I have known people whose cravings were actually signs of worse problems.

By sherlock87 — On Jul 18, 2011

I used to take in a lot of salt via microwave popcorn, but I found that it's actually really easy to switch from microwave popcorn to stovetop. All you have to do is buy regular popcorn in a jar, put some oil in a pot, add corn, and put it on the stove. I stir occasionally, then put the lid on once they start to pop. When it's done, adding a little melted butter and/or salt and pepper is all you need. It's much healthier than microwave varieties, and once you get the hang of it, it is almost as easy, and way less expensive too.

By DentalFloss — On Jul 17, 2011

Wow, I totally battle with this. Some people crave chocolate, I crave salt, in any form, but mostly chips. I really have no idea why I have such a desire for chips all the time, but if I go a week without them, I get really crabby, like a withdrawal or something! I just try to go for the lower-sodium ones now, the lesser of two evils, if you will.

By wander — On Jul 16, 2011

@suntan12 - If you find you have salt cravings after you workout it is usually do to the amount of sweating you are doing. Sports drinks are a good idea if you are actually feeling the effects of sweating too much in a way that makes you crave salt.

If you sip a low calorie sports drink during your workout you can prevent dehydration and electrolyte issues. Sports drinks come in a variety of types but I find if you just want to keep salt cravings at bay you should buy isotonic sports drinks which contain similar amounts of salt and sugar which are close to those that are found in our bodies.

By lonelygod — On Jul 16, 2011

Stopping salt cravings can be really difficult especially if you are used to eating a ton of processed foods. I was told I needed to lower my sodium intake even though I was constantly craving salt. Apparently all the sodium was just making my high blood pressure worse.

I actually started looking at labels in the supermarket and you would be shocked to see how much salt is in food when you start to investigate. My favorite soups and instant noodles were off the menu as most of the contained more than my daily allowance for sodium in one serving.

I recommend that if you are trying to stop craving salt that you should make all of your own food at home. For myself I found it nearly impossible to stay on a low sodium diet while I was eating any processed foods.

By oasis11 — On Jul 15, 2011

@BrickBack - Wow I am so glad that your sister and her baby are okay. I wanted to add that I sometimes get salt cravings when I get sugary foods.

I guess I get sick of the taste and want something different and gravitate towards salty foods. I think that when you eat properly and focus on your health and nutrition you tend to have a balanced approach towards food and no real cravings.

For example, when I eliminate sugar from my diet, after a few days when I get over the sugar withdrawal, I actually have more energy and no longer crave the sugar. So I think that you can change your craving by changing the foods that you eat.

By BrickBack — On Jul 14, 2011

@Suntan12 - That happens to me sometimes after a workout too. I have to say that I also was craving salt during my pregnancy.

For some reason I could not get enough of ham and cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise. It was really weird. I would have a sandwich for breakfast and lunch and not get sick of it. This was all I wanted to eat, but I had to be careful because I was also retaining water.

A certain amount of water retention is normal for pregnancy, but if you retain too much water you could develop preeclampsia which is extremely high blood pressure during pregnancy. My sister developed this condition and had to have an emergency C section and almost went into a coma. Thank goodness that everything worked out and her baby was healthy.

By suntan12 — On Jul 14, 2011

I usually have salt cravings after I workout. I guess because my body is low in potassium and I need to replenish it right away with water and the proper nutrients.

I usually eat a banana and prepare a bowl of whole grain pasta with tomatoes, spinach and grilled chicken and it takes care of the problem. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does my cravings get really strong.

I will also prepare a bag of microwave popcorn which also has plenty of salt and fiber to keep me satisfied for a while.

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