Life Hack: trick your tongue into going saltless

Tips, theory, and benefits

By Brittney MacDonald, Senior Columnist

If you’d asked me a year ago, I would have told you I was a proud salt-aholic! Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I put salt on it all and loved it. Of course we all know that salt is bad for you, but that just makes it all the more tantalizing and forbidden. I thought I would never get off the white stuff, but like any good advice, the solution to my problem came from my mother.

We were at a concert (yes, I go to concerts with my mother) when the unimaginable happened. My mother, lover of all things rock-salted, could not even eat her soft pretzel. I asked her how that was possible, and her answer was simple: “Dr. Oz.”

Yep, an Oprah spin-off had taught my mom a useful life lesson, and improved her health. Consider that next time you judge your granny or your own mother for all that crappy daytime television she watches.

Salt kills taste buds, which is why you need to continually put more and more salt on your food to taste it. In order to break this habit without giving up the salty flavour you love for the rest of your life, you need to encourage your tongue to produce more taste buds. You do this by leaving your meals unsalted for about a week—you can still use it in cooking and preparation, just don’t salt your finished meals afterward.

Instead, overload your plate with pepper; cover everything in it. Now, I know that a lot of people don’t like pepper, but you will just have to suck it up for a week. The pepper will encourage new taste buds to grow while your lack of salt will stop them from dying so quickly. After about a week, your food will taste saltier on its own, so you will find you won’t need to add any.

Going saltless like this will make going to fast food restaurants hard. I can no longer eat French fries because now I find most to be way too salty. However, there are some pretty awesome benefits. Because salt makes you retain water, when you give it up you will actually lose quite a bit of weight, depending on how addicted you were. You will also find it easier to keep hydrated, which in turn will make your skin better. Because your new taste buds will not be desensitized by salt, you will find that many foods will become a lot more flavourful—kind of like when you quit smoking.

I have been saltless for over a year now and I can’t sing the praises of it enough. It has improved the way I feel and the way I eat, and really I didn’t have to give up much; just a few bad habits and a bunch of 4 a.m. McDonald’s runs.