Quick Recipes and Easy

Eating Out – What Can You Order if You are Salt-Sensitive?

I became salt-sensitive when I reached middle-age. When I eat too much salt my feet, knees, and eyes swell. Sometimes I have “pillows” under my eyes and I reported these symptoms to my primary care physician. She prescribed a diuretic and I take half a pill a day. The medication helps, but I still have to be careful about how much salt I eat.

According to “Decreasing Your Salt Intake,” an article by Karen Schroeder, MS, RD, published on the Emory HealthCare Web site, salt sensitivity is hard to diagnose. Some salt-sensitive people have high blood pressure (hypertension). “Nutrition researchers are still trying tease out the exact role of sodium in hypertension,” notes Schroeder.

I do not have hypertension, yet I am salt-sensitive. Eating out is hard. WebMD published an article about eating less salt, “5 Tips for Reducing Salt Intake.” Restaurant meals are a source of salt, the article says, along with condiments (ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce), processed meats, and snack foods.

Before I order anything I speed read the menu. Since appetizers tend to be high in salt I seldom order them. But, I have ordered a healthy appetizer instead of dinner. What else do I order?

FRESH PRODUCE. Fresh fruit and vegetables are the first things I look for on the menu. If I order a salad I question for dressing on the side.

A LITTLE BREAD. Specialty breads like garlic toast contain lots of salt. I like bread, but monitor how much I eat. Besides, I do not want to fill up on bread before my dinner comes.

PLAIN MEAT. Grilled meat and fish are my first choices, but many restaurants soak their meat in high-salt marinades. I question the server if the meat has been marinated. Thank goodness restaurants like the Outback Steak House will let you order a plain steak. The chef will gladly prepare your chicken, fish, and vegetables without salt.

SAUCE-FREE ENTREES. The chef may use commercial stock to make sauces. These products are loaded with salt, so I look for entrees that do not have sauce or gravy. I would never order stew in a restaurant.

WATER. Regular soda pop and diet pop contain more salt than you may reckon. A 12-ounce bottle of “low sodium” Sprite, for example, contains 70 milligrams of salt. Since I do not need extra salt and want to protect my tooth enamel I always order water. I may also order iced tea and coffee.

DOWNPLAY DESSERT. Usually I am so full after a meal that I have no desire for dessert. A scoop of ice cream may tempt me, but that is rare.

Restaurant parts have gotten huge. I question for a box and take half of my dinner home. These leftovers make one or two lunches. Salt-sensitive people can eat out, but you have to be alert and order wisely.

Copyright 2007 by Harriet Hodgson

harriethodgson.com harriethodgson.com

Harriet Hodgson has been a freelance nonfiction writer for 28 years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief,” written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from http:www.amazon.com. A five-star review of the book is posted on Amazon. You will find other reviews on the American Hospice Foundation Web site (“School Corner” heading) and the Health Ministries Association Web site.

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