How Do I Find Sodium Counts When Eating Out?

By Rachael Derr, RD

Q: How do I find sodium counts when eating out.

A: Given the increased sodium values found in many restaurant meals, it is important to know how much sodium we are consuming when eating out.

First, try to do some research about the restaurant’s menu prior to getting to arriving. Many restaurants have nutrition information available on their websites. This is helpful to customers, like yourself, who may be concerned with the quantities of certain nutrients in their meals.

Even if you don’t do such research in advance, ask your server if the restaurant has nutrition information available onsite. Many restaurants have a nutritional pamphlet of their menu available at each location.

Once you have the information, what does it mean?? At Healthy Dining, we like to point out menu items with 750 milligrams of sodium or less. We refer to these menu items as “Sodium Savvy,” and we suggest starting there when aiming for a lower sodium restaurant meal. Many adults should not exceed 2,300 milligrams of sodium in a day. However, if you’re African American, aged 51 or older, or have kidney or heart disease, your daily recommended limit is 1,500 milligrams of sodium.   In either case, this amount can easily be surpassed with one restaurant meal. But have no fear! We have some tips that can help reduce the amount of sodium when dining out:

  • Request no added salt on your meal. This means the cook or chef will leave off any salt that is added during this cooking process.
  • Certain ingredients, like sauces, dressings, cheese and cured foods, are typically loaded with sodium. Request your meal with dressings and sauces on the side, allowing you to be in control of how much you use. Requesting less cheese and avoiding cured foods (for example: turkey sandwich without the pickles or olives) – will really help lower the sodium count for that menu item.
  • For more ways to lower your sodium intake while dining out with an eye on sodium control, check out these tips to make your favorite restaurant meals more Sodium Savvy