How to Eat Out on a Low Sodium Diet

When you first start low sodium living, the idea of eating out at a restaurant can seem daunting.  How can you possibly know how much salt the kitchen staff is using?

Some restaurants share nutritional information online, but most don’t.  It’s important to learn how to read menus to identify sodium-heavy dishes to avoid and lower sodium dishes you can enjoy.

Here are a few tips to help you eat out on a low sodium diet.

Call Ahead Call the restaurant ahead to ask if a low or no-sodium meal is possible.  The staff will likely appreciate the advance notice and may be willing to prepare something special for you.

If a sodium-free meal is not an option – not all restaurant kitchens have the staff or time to prepare a custom meal – ask for the restaurant’s recommendations on dishes made with less salt.

Ask for No Added Salt Even if the restaurant can’t make a salt-free meal, ask when you place your order if they can not add additional salt to your meal as they prepare or finish it.


Avoid the Salt Shaker Ignore the salt shaker on the table! You should do this at home, as well, but especially in a restaurant.

Eat Smaller Portions Restaurant portions can be twice the size of a regular portion.  Ask for half your meal to be packed up to take home. Smaller portions will reduce the amount of sodium you’re eating.

Skip the Salty Sides   Ask for a fresh batch of fries made without salt or replace them with a small salad or vegetables with no salt instead.

Sauce on the Side If you can’t resist the sauce, having it served to you on the side will allow you to dip your food instead of having your meal served in a pool of sauce.

Learn Menu Buzzwords Words like barbecued, smoked, cured and brined should set off your sodium alarms along with broth or stock, soy sauce or any Asian style foods.  These are typically high in sodium.

Bring Your Own Condiments Condiments can be high in sodium, though you can find reduced or no salt added versions in grocery stores. Buy small bottles or fill small plastic containers with your favorite low sodium or no salt added condiments and bring them with you when you eat out.

Don’t Fill Up on Bread Skip the bread basket and choose a meal without bread. One slice of French bread can contain as much as 425 mg of sodium!  Save your sodium for your main course.

Don’t Be a Frequent Fryer Fried foods are notoriously high in sodium in large part due to the amount of salt added to the breading.  Choose menu items that are roasted, steamed, grilled, baked or broiled for a healthier option.

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