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Low-Salt Diets: Eating Out

Table of Contents


Introduction

For many people, eating out is something they do to relax and socialize. You don't have to give this up when you are on a low-sodium diet, but it is important to be more careful about what you order in a restaurant. Sodium isn't just in table salt. You can also find it in sodium citrate, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Asian foods often have MSG as well as soy sauce, which is also high in sodium. But with some planning and helpful tips, you can still enjoy eating out while limiting the sodium in your diet.


How can you avoid sodium when eating out?

It requires extra effort to avoid sodium when you eat out, because you can't always tell by looking at the menu which items are high in sodium. It often depends on how the restaurant prepares the meal, what ingredients they use, and how much sodium they add. Here are some ways to avoid sodium when you dine out.

Learn what food items are okay and which ones to avoid. For example, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce has more than 1,000 mg of sodium, and 1 teaspoon of salt has about 2,300 mg of sodium. You can use the following list and bring it with you to the restaurant. You may be able to substitute low-salt or fresh menu items for those with higher sodium content.

Tips for eating out

Foods to avoid

Instead, choose or ask for ...


Smoked, cured, and salted meat, fish, and poultry


Fresh, grilled, baked, poached, or broiled meat, fish, or poultry


Ham, bacon, hot dogs, luncheon meats, and cheese


Fresh roasted pork, turkey, or chicken


Canned vegetables


Fresh steamed vegetables with no added salt. (Assume that cooked vegetables have added salt unless you ask for them to be prepared without it.)


Condiments, such as pickles, olives, tartar sauce, and ketchup


Sliced cucumbers, malt vinegar, or low-sodium ketchup and mustard


Sauces, including soy sauce, tomato sauce, au jus, and gravy


Low-sodium tomato sauce, olive oil. Or ask for your food to be prepared without sauces, or have the sauces served on the side.


Salad dressings


Oil and vinegar, lemon juice, or low-sodium dressing


Soups and broths


Salads without croutons, bacon, cheese, or olives


Tomato juice or any drink that contains tomato juice, such as V-8 or Clamato. This includes alcoholic drinks like Bloody Marys.


Orange juice, other citrus juices, or soft drinks


Fried or seasoned rice


Steamed plain rice. (Asian restaurants often add salt to steamed rice. Be sure to ask for steamed rice without added salt.)


Pasta with tomato sauce


Pasta tossed in olive oil or with fresh tomatoes

Ice cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt, and angel food cake are all lower-sodium dessert choices.


Credits for Low-Salt Diets: Eating Out

Current as of: August 22, 2019

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Rhonda O'Brien, MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator


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