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Low-Salt Diets: Eating Out


For many people, eating out is something they do to relax and socialize. You don't have to give this up when you are on a low-sodium diet. But restaurant foods are usually high in sodium. So you'll want to be careful about what you order.

You can look for items that are made from fresh ingredients and prepared to order. Ask for your food to be made without added salt. And learn which foods tend to be higher in sodium, like sauces and smoked meats.

How can you avoid sodium when eating out?

Here are some ways to avoid sodium when you dine out.

  • Ask for low or no salt in your meal.

    Try to choose restaurants where the food is made to order, instead of choosing fast-food or buffet-style restaurants. Before you order, ask how the food is prepared and if the restaurant offers low-sodium menu items. Often you can ask that your meal be prepared with no added sodium.

  • Read the nutrition information of menu items.

    Most fast-food restaurants have nutrition information available, including sodium content. If you do eat at a fast-food restaurant, ask for the nutrition information. Choose lower-sodium items.

  • Choose lower-sodium desserts.

    Ice cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt, and angel food cake are all lower-sodium dessert choices.

  • Learn what food items are lower in sodium.

    You may be able to substitute low-salt or fresh menu items for those with higher sodium content.

    Foods to avoid when limiting sodium

    Foods to avoid

    Instead, choose or ask for …

    Smoked, cured, and salted meat, fish, and poultry

    Fresh, grilled, baked, poached, or broiled meat, fish, or poultry

    Ham, bacon, hot dogs, luncheon meats, and cheese

    Fresh roasted pork, turkey, or chicken

    Canned vegetables

    Fresh steamed vegetables with no added salt. (Assume that cooked vegetables have added salt unless you ask for them to be prepared without it.)

    Condiments, such as pickles, olives, tartar sauce, and ketchup

    Sliced cucumbers, malt vinegar, or low-sodium ketchup and mustard

    Sauces, including soy sauce, tomato sauce, au jus, and gravy

    Low-sodium tomato sauce, olive oil. Or ask for your food to be prepared without sauces. Or have the sauces served on the side.

    Salad dressings

    Oil and vinegar, lemon juice, or low-sodium dressing

    Soups and broths

    Salads without croutons, bacon, cheese, or olives

    Tomato juice or any drink that contains tomato juice, such as V-8 or Clamato. This includes alcoholic drinks like Bloody Marys.

    Orange juice or other citrus juices

    Fried or seasoned rice

    Steamed plain rice. (Restaurants often add salt to steamed rice. Be sure to ask for steamed rice without added salt.)

    Pasta with tomato sauce

    Pasta tossed in olive oil or with fresh tomatoes


Current as of: September 20, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.


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