Weaning people off salt and sugar

Vegemite - very Australian

Vegemite – very Australian

It is years since I followed the advice of the majority of nutritionists and stopped cooking with salt. If those eating the food wanted to add touch of salt to their own dish, they were welcome to do so. I went from two teaspoons of sugar to one teaspoon in my coffee and none in tea. Coffee is just too bitter a taste for me without a smidgen of sugar.

When my family arrived I was shocked at how much salt they demanded be put in their food. Absolutely shocked. All I could taste was salt, nothing else. Sugar? The kids would put a tablespoon of sugar on cornflakes, a cereal already laden with enough sugar to sweeten a small nation.

I was really worried about the salt consumption in particular. “I didn’t get you all here to have you die on me!” I protested on more than one occasion.

Google proved my friend and I found an article on the internet outlining the high levels of hypertension and diabetes in Nigeria, leading to the premature deaths of many each year. Increased salt and sugar consumption, as a result of the population moving away from traditional diets, was cited as a major contribution. The World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts deaths in Nigeria from diabetes will increase 52% between 2005 and 2015.

All these facts and figures are great for adults to understand, but try convincing a ten year-old she is actually setting herself up for SERIOUS health problems if she insists on having more sugar in her Milo than actual Milo! For that matter, fifteen year-old boys are not that easily convinced either. This morning I caught someone about to put sugar on his oats. I got out the oats package and showed him how much sugar was already in his serve of flavoured oats compared to my original, plain oats. I’m not sure he was convinced, but at least I stopped the sugar going on. Mr 13 proudly told me he doesn’t put sugar on his Milo cereal. Just as well, as it is 27.3 gms of sugar per 100gms of cereal! Over 25% SUGAR!

Admittedly there are many Australians who don’t eat the healthiest diet in the world either, but they aren’t living in this house! :lol:

A constant question when serving dinner is, “Did you put salt in this?” The kids know full well the answer is usually “No!” although I do compromise with Nigerian dishes and put an ever diminishing amount of salt in. The problem then becomes one of stopping them upending the salt shaker all over dinner! They claim they can’t taste the food without salt. I counter with the argument that given the amount of salt they like, ALL they can taste is SALT, not the food!

Miss O 1 is, thankfully, on my side. She has been doing Food Technology and has learnt quite a bit about nutrition in the process. Mr O trusts and has read and understood my research, so he is supportive too. I’m still stunned at the amount of sugar we go through every week! About 1.5 kilos of the stuff.

Clearly I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. I am simply a mother trying to keep my kids and husband healthy. Nutrition Australia recommends a daily salt intake of 460 – 920 mg per day. The sugar debate waxes and wanes with various opinions although I don’t think anyone denies sugar in excess leads to weight gain which leads to other related health problems. Too much of anything is not healthy, sugar included!

How to cut down these cravings for sugar and salt is stumping me!

What I don’t understand is this. If they love salt so much, how come they cannot stomach Vegemite? :lol:

About Team Oyeniyi

We fought to be together as a team, we are now together as a team. Team Oyeniyi

14 comments on “Weaning people off salt and sugar

  1. […] the paella pan the silverbeet went. Added a little chilli flakes, salt (just a little), a tad more oil, popped the wok lid on and turned the heat down and cooked until […]


  2. […] These are flavoured and the flavouring means……….yes, you got it – a stack of sugar in each serve! […]


  3. Sounds very sensible. We do the same in our household. I can’t get over how much hidden salt there is in food – even stuff bought in the supermarket to cook – and it’ll bite us all, sooner or later. Not adding much of it in home cooking definitely helps.


    • The amount of sugar in processed stuff is amazing too! That Milo cereal is more than 25% sugar!

      We don’t eat a lot of takeaway food, but just bread and cereal are high is salt and sugar.

      The government here are working on getting salt content reduced, but such innovation takes a while.


  4. You are on the right path and you are right so don’t give up on them. Maybe try and find a healthier substitute that will still give the sweetness or saltiness they crave?


  5. I once heard a nutritionist say that our taste buds change every 10 days, so once you give up something for 10 days you shouldn’t feel the need for it again. Maybe not that easy…
    You are right in trying to change their ways with the sugar and salt, but young people believe they know it all and they don’t have any health problems yet, so why change?
    I am constantly amazed at the amount of salt and sugar most packaged foods have, it shouldn’t be allowed!!


    • 10 days isn’t so bad! I’m also teaching them to add a little, taste before adding too much. Can always add a little more, can’t take too much out!

      The government is campaigning for less salt in processed foods. One of the things I know I can’t swap to is unsalted butter. I suppose I should make more of an effort on that!


  6. Slowly does it, a little bit less salt and sugar at a time. So hard though as many things that you would not believe contain salt…

    Good that you are on a good healthy mission. Just think what good you are doing for their immune systems. You can do it. With lots of hard work, determination and Love.


    • I’ve been doing the slowly slowly for 2 years and three months. Imagine where we started!!

      Funny thing is they love roast lamb and veggies and never put salt on it.

      At least I have two on my side now! :)


  7. Ah yes I’ve seen Ngerians throw heaps of salt in to the pot. Even fried plantains get salt when they are cooked but I have to confess a little does add something to the sweetness!


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