Sandwich or salad? Pasta or pizza?

We all enjoy eating out occasionally but knowing what is a healthy option from the menu can be tricky. Unlike packaged foods you buy in the supermarkets, you don’t often see the nutritional information displayed on the menu.  This can make it really difficult to know how salty a dish is.

You would be surprised at how much salt is actually added to meals at restaurants, making it all too easy to have more salt than you realise. That’s why it’s important not to trust your taste buds.

Here are five simple tips to help you limit your salt intake when eating out:

1.      Find the best menu choices. Consider the main ingredients and try to select freshly prepared options made from healthy, unprocessed ingredients like lean protein, salad, veggies and beans like chickpeas and kidney beans. Dishes are more likely to be high in salt if they contain ham, bacon, salami, smoked fish or cheeses.

2.      Look for hidden salt. Watch out for words like marinated, pickled, smoked, breaded, brined, in broth, teriyaki or soy sauce – these may mean your dish is high in salt.  Remember, if you can’t tell from the menu how a dish is cooked, you can always ask.

3.      Ask for no salt. Don’t be afraid to ask about how the food is prepared and if they can make substitutions so that your dish has less added salt. For example you can ask for your meat to be grilled or roasted without sauces and your vegetables prepared without salt.

4.      Skip the salt shaker. Don’t add any salt at the table.  Ask for your food to be seasoned with lemon, pepper or herbs instead of salt, sauces or gravy.

5.      Limit condiments that are high in salt, such as mustard, ketchup, pickles and sauces.  You can ask for your sauces and dressings to be served ‘on the side’ so you can choose how much to use.


Ms Saadia Noorani is a UK Registered Public Health Nutritionist for World Action on Salt and Health (WASH) at Queen Mary University of London, UK. Follow us on twitter @washsalt