How can I reduce my sodium intake when dining out?

Here are some tips for dining out if you are limiting your sodium intake:
  • Ask plenty of questions! You are paying to eat out so do not hesitate to ask about how items are prepared. Whenever possible, ask for your choices to be made without salt.
  • Avoid any entree or side dish with cream, cheese, or seasoned sauces. Request items plain or if necessary, with sauces/dressings on the side.
  • Keep it simple. Choose grilled, baked, or broiled fish, poultry, or meats.
  • For dessert, try plain cake, angel cake, fresh fruit, sherbets, or sorbets.
Sari Greaves
Nutrition & Dietetics
The American Heart Association offers these tips for reducing sodium consumption when dining out:
  • Get to know low-sodium foods and look for them on the menu.
  • Be specific about what you want and how you want it prepared when you order. Ask for your dish to be prepared without salt.
  • Don't add salt to your dish: instead of the salt shaker, reach for the pepper shaker.
  • Ask for fresh lemon and squeeze juice from that on your dish instead of salt (goes well with fish and vegetables, for instance).
Marisa Moore
Nutrition & Dietetics
Keeping your sodium intake low while dining out can be difficult but it’s not impossible. You just have to plan ahead. Try these simple tips next time you head out to eat:
  • Check the restaurant’s website for the sodium content of menu items. Commit to selecting the lower sodium options when you get there.
  • Ask how foods are prepared and don’t be afraid to ask for substitutions.
  • Scan the menu for clues. Pickled, cured, smoked, soy sauce, broth, miso, barbequed, teriyaki, creole and even marinated are all code for high sodium.
  • Order meat, fish or chicken simply grilled. Skip the sauces and gravies which are usually very high in sodium. Squeeze on a little lemon or lime for extra flavor.
  • Request that veggies be steamed, grilled or roasted without added sauce. This works especially well with green beans, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and carrots which are already so flavorful.
  • Instead of mashed potatoes or French fries, opt for a small baked sweet or white potato as a side. Skip the mountain of butter and sour cream of course.
  • Focus on fresh options like salads but ask for the dressing on the side -- then don't eat all of it. Salad dressings are notoriously high in sodium unless maybe they are made from scratch.
  • Request that the kitchen go light on the cheese or light on the sauce when possible to cut the sodium content of entrees.
  • Skip the salt shaker.
Take these tips with you on your next outing and continue to build. You're well on your way to being sodium savvy!
Emilia Klapp
Nutrition & Dietetics
Start by asking the waiter or the cook to prepare the food with no salt or very little salt. Try these other tips:
  • Ask the waiter to remove the salt shaker, so you won’t be tempted to add more salt.
  • Do not snack on salted nuts; get the raw, unsalted kind.
  • Avoid lunchmeats, ham, bacon, sausages, hot dogs, and other processed foods.
  • Order vegetable side dishes with the main entrée.
  • Have a piece of fruit for dessert.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.