When you are on a low sodium diet and want to eat out in a restaurant, there are some foods to watch out for and some foods you should look for. There are also a few things you can do to help your food be more flavorful and still follow a low sodium diet.
Suggestions of what foods to avoid when following a low sodium diet and eating out:
- Avoid condiments, or at least be very easy with them: Catsup, mustard, pickles, olives, hot sauce, steak sauce, barbecue sauce, soy, sauce, as these can be very high in sodium.
- Avoid butter or margarine as the restaurants rarely use unsalted. One pat of butter can be 100 mg of sodium. Whipped butter is easier for spreading but the sodium is the same as regular butter. It is butter that is whipped with water or milk and incorporates air. The restaurant may have unsalted butter available, especially if they have a bakery. You should ask, or try extra virgin olive oil.
- Avoid battered foods and most breaded or floured foods as they are higher in sodium. Flour is bland or flat tasting without salt, so most flour batters and breading already have salt mixed in, or the food will be salted when cooking, (sometimes both).
- Avoid most bread, at least limit it, as it is usually high in sodium and this includes white, wheat, biscuits, even cornbread. Note: Corn tortillas are generally (not always) made without salt and are sodium free.
- Avoid soups, sauces, gravies or salad dressings as they are usually very high in sodium.
- Avoid beans as they are usually high sodium.
- Avoid processed foods or deli foods like luncheon meats, ham, hot dogs, sausage, even turkey, especially if it is rolled or pressed.
Suggestions of what you should do when eating out on a low sodium diet:
- Choose plain foods (without sauce, gravy or breading).
- Squeeze fresh lemon or limes over food, vegetables, or salads for added flavor.
- Just a few shakes of vinegar will help give your food a lift without salt.
- Many salt free people use a lot of black pepper on their food to help the flavor. Ask for freshly ground black pepper from a pepper mill, when available.
- Ask to have no salt added when the food is prepared.
- Ask to have no Msg (monosodium glutamate) added to the food.
- Take a salt substitute with you to the restaurant.
Tips you should know when dining out in restaurants and a low sodium diet.
Always ask your waiter or waitress for low sodium suggestions. They are very aware of what they offer and what can be prepared as a low sodium diet option.
More and more restaurants are making low sodium diet choices available, because folks are asking for them. The better or higher priced restaurants, will generally have lower sodium food. Not low sodium but lower in sodium, as they purchase better quality foods. The less expensive restaurants will tend to be higher in sodium.
Avoid most restaurant chains. Their menus tend to be very high in sodium whether they are an expensive chain restaurant or not, as the salty taste is what the majority of people want. Forget about fast food, as they are almost always extremely high in sodium.
When following a low sodium diet, you still want to enjoy life. Part of enjoying life is the social event of dining out with friends and family and not feeling left out.
Hopefully these tips will help you follow a low sodium diet and still enjoy your food when eating out.