Dining out on a low-sodium diet

There are many ways to help reduce how much sodium you eat while eating out. Your choices will vary with the type of dining situation. The following tips can help lower your sodium while eating out.

How to order from a menu

  • Skip foods with cheese, bacon or cream.
  • Avoid appetizers.
  • Skip sauces and gravies.
  • A plain hamburger or non-breaded chicken is a better choice than a fried fish sandwich.
  • Skip the pickles, olives, mayonnaise, bacon, cheese and sauces ("extras").
  • Choose meat or fish that is baked, broiled, grilled, poached, roasted or steamed.
  • Choose oatmeal instead of a roll or muffin.
  • Try lemon juice or vinegar and oil instead of dressing.
  • Ask for a side salad, fruit or steamed vegetables without salt instead of fries or potato chips.
  • Choose baked potatoes. Skip the butter and sour cream.
  • Choose low-fat or fat-free yogurt, sherbet or fresh fruit for dessert.
  • Skip foods that are breaded and fried.
  • Avoid malts or shakes.
  • Drink water, plain coffee or low-fat milk (skim or 1 percent). 

What to choose from salad bars

  • Choose fresh vegetables or canned or fresh fruits as a major part of your meal.
  • Choose vinegar and oil or lemon juice for salad dressing.
  • Limit the use of higher-sodium ingredients such as bacon bits, pickles, cheese and meat salads.

How to order ethnic foods

  • For Asian dining, choose menu items that are made to order. Ask that food be made without salt, soy sauce or MSG.
  • Choose menu items that do not include sauces.
  • Mexican foods such as tacos, burritos and tostados are lower-sodium choices for you.
  • Other ethnic foods, such as German and Italian, are often made ahead of time. These items may be more difficult for you to special order.
  • If you are eating ethnic cuisine, eat low-sodium foods at home before and after the meal.

Source: Twin Cities Dietetic Association

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Heart Failure, fifth edition
First Published: 10/04/2002
Last Reviewed: 12/10/2015