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Low Sodium Tips for Dining Out

Dining Out

The most difficult time to maintain a low sodium diet is when dining out. Making good, healthy choices can be difficult, especially when you're not sure what's been added to the foods you order. For example, a garden salad with low-fat dressing may very well have more sodium than a hamburger and fries. Believe it or not, just because something is billed as healthy doesn't necessarily mean it's low in sodium.

These tips will help you make good, low sodium choices the next time you're dining out.

Low Sodium Tips for Dining Out in Typical Restaurants

Beverages

Choose water, tea, coffee, soda, beer, wine, or champagne.

Avoid mixed drinks, milkshakes, malts, tomato juice, and vegetable juice.

Appetizers

Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, banana chips, or unsalted nuts.

Avoid crackers, cheese dips, meatballs, pates, and cocktail sauce.

Salads

Choose tossed greens, gelatin, and carrot/raisin salads.

Avoid three-bean salads and any mayonnaise-based salads.

Salad Dressings

Choose oil and vinegar or vinaigrette.

Avoid creamy dressings.

Cheeses

Choose goat cheese or Swiss cheese.

Avoid brie, feta, or just about any other cheese.

Soups

Just avoid soups, full stop.

Entrees

Choose grilled beef, pork, poultry, or dishes without creamy sauces.

Avoid breaded or fried foods, sausage, ham, and dishes with creamy sauces.

Side Dishes

Choose glazed carrots, applesauce, mashed potatoes, or vegetables without sauces.

Avoid cottage cheese, rice pilaf, and stuffing.

Condiments

Choose honey mustard, fruit relish, fruit chutney, cranberry sauce, au jus, jam, or jelly.

Avoid catsup, Dijon mustard, gravy, olives, pickles, and most sauces.

Breads

Choose small dinner rolls or matzos.

Avoid cornbread, breadsticks, focaccia bread, muffins, and biscuits.

Desserts

Choose sponge cake, fruitcake, apple strudel, meringue cookies, custard, sorbet, sherbet, or fruit tarts.

Avoid frosted cakes, pies, pastries, angel food, and gingerbread.

Low Sodium Tips for Dining Out in Asian Restaurants

Many Asian dishes are made with soy sauce, which is extremely high in sodium. You may not be able to keep it low sodium, per se, but you can minimize the damage with these tips:

  • Use chopsticks to eat your food, and leave the sauce behind on the plate.
  • Ask the chef to refrain from adding salt and MSG to your food.
  • Substitute additional vegetables for some of your meat or fish.
  • Don't add soy sauce to your meal!

Choose bean curd or tofu, steamed rice, steamed or stir-fried dishes with vegetables.

Avoid soy sauce (and most other sauces, if possible), MSG, tempura, chow mein or lo mein, soup, pickled food.

Low Sodium Tips for Dining Out in Fast Food Restaurants

Choose unsalted fries, veggie sandwich, yogurt, fresh fruit, hamburger (hold the cheese, mayo, and pickles).

Avoid subs and wraps, breaded fish and poultry, salty chips, catsup on your fries, cheese, condiments, pies, and cookies.

Low Sodium Tips for Dining Out in French Restaurants

Choose entrees with wine-based sauces, vinaigrette dressing, fresh fruit dessert or tart, sorbet.

Avoid creamy sauces (such as béarnaise, béchamel, morney, or hollandaise) and creamy soups.

Low Sodium Tips for Dining Out in Italian Restaurants

Choose pasta with marinara sauce, primavera, piccata (without the capers), pasta/fagoli or marsala dishes, oil and vinegar dressing, or Italian ices.

Avoid antipasto platters, cheese sauce, cream sauce, additional parmesan cheese, and bread.

Low Sodium Tips for Dining Out in Mexican Restaurants

Although many Mexican dishes are laden in high-sodium cheese and sauces, you can keep your salt intake in check by following these tips:

  • Ask for the sauce on the side.
  • Ask the chef to refrain from adding cheese to your meal.
  • Substitute corn tortillas for flour.

Choose grilled fish or chicken, beef or chicken tacos (or tostadas), ceviche, corn tortillas, guacamole, fresh salsa, pico de gallo, or flan.

Avoid salty chips, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, beans and rice, chorizo (sausage), and flour tortillas.

Just remember these low sodium tips the next time you're dining out, and you'll be able to enjoy your meal without worrying about your health.

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