Friday, September 25, 2009

The Art of Dining Out

This is the best discussion I have found on this topic for those on LS/LF diets. It is from from - a Web-based retailer of low salt foods. It is reprinted below with their kind permission. (Note the focus here is low salt, not LS/LF so some fine tuning may be needed.)

Being on a low sodium diet does not mean you have to give up the enjoyment of
eating out. It does however mean you need to prepare and be selective in your
choice of restaurants and menu items. Things to remember when dining out:

  • IF YOU ARE PLANNING ON EATING OUT, MAKE YOUR OTHER MEALS THAT DAY VERY LOW IN SODIUM. Any meal you eat out will most likely have more sodium than you would normally have at home. To compensate for that reality, be sure that the other meals you have that day are very low in sodium. Planning ahead can allow you to remain within your daily sodium restriction.

  • IF POSSIBLE, CALL THE RESTURANT AHEAD OF TIME TO BE SURE THEY ARE WILLING TO PREPARE YOUR MEAL WITHOUT ANY MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (MSG), SALT OR SAUCES. If they are reluctant or indicate it depends on how busy the chef is, select another restaurant. If the restaurant is willing to prepare a special meal for you, ask if you need to bring any special condiments, i.e.: seasonings, unsalted butter, low sodium sauce, low sodium salad dressings, etc. If you are unable to call ahead, ask about the feasibility of making a special meal before you are seated. It is better to know before you are seated, so you can decide if you will remain or go to another restaurant.

  • WHEN AT THE RESTAURANT EXPLAIN TO THE WAITER/WAITRESS THAT YOU ARE ON A LOW SALT DIET and ask that they or the chef recommend which of their menu items are the lowest in salt content and without MSG. Do not always assume “heart healthy” on a menu translates to low salt. It typically means the item is low in fats and cholesterol, if you are lucky these items will also be low in sodium.

  • CHECK OUT THE SERVING SIZE: Many restaurants often provide larger portions than necessary. If you are at a restaurant known for its large meals, request that half of the serving be placed in a take home box for a left over meal the next day. Although you may be tempted to eat more, stay within your normal portion size, remember the larger the portion, the higher the sodium.

  • CHOOSE FOODS THAT REQUIRE MINIMAL PREPERATION such as baked, and roasted. Avoid foods that are made with breading, batters, marinades or laden with sauce.

  • WHEN ORDERING, DON’T ASSUME THEY REMEMBER, AGAIN ASK THAT YOUR MEAL BE MADE WITHOUT ANY MSG, ADDED SALT OR SALTED BUTTER. Many restaurants today have unsalted butter available in their kitchen, ask that this be used.


  • CARRY YOUR OWN SALT FREE CONDIMENTS. When you know you will be eating out, go to a “Dollar Type Store” and purchase several small cosmetic/toiletry travel storage containers and depending on the type of restaurant, fill containers with single servings of your favorite low sodium salad dressing, low sodium ketchup/mustard/mayo, sauce, seasoning and unsalted butter, etc

  • WATCH THE SALAD BAR as many salad bars are enriched with sodium nitrate to help preserve their freshness. Ask if a preservative is used on the salad bar. Where possible, request that you have your salad prepared fresh and use vinegar and oil or lemon and oil as your dressing or use the low sodium version you brought with you

  • .
  • DESSERTS ARE NOT OFF LIMITS you just need to be selective. You are celebrating by eating out so enjoy some dessert. However, skip the pies, pastries, cakes and tortes, instead select sherbet and fresh fruits.

  • VISIT for additional advice on eating out and specific sodium information on fast foods.

  • ENJOY THE MEAL YOU AND/OR YOUR LOVED ONE DID NOT HAVE TO COOK!! If you find a restaurant that has graciously prepared good tasting, low sodium meals for you, please email me at Provide the restaurant name, address and phone number, if possible. I will contact the restaurant and if they are agreeable will post here as a dining out resource.
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