If you are committed to eating a low sodium diet after suffering a heart attack or in order to keep your hypertension under control, you might find it difficult to know what to order at restaurants. One especially difficult type of restaurant to order food at is an Italian restaurant. There's no way for you to tell how much sodium is in the sauces that are dousing your pasta, and there's a good chance that your waiter or waitress does not know either. However, this does not mean that Italian restaurants are off limits. Here are some tips for staying on your low sodium diet when eating at an Italian restaurant.
1. Avoid the Bread
Bread sticks or just bread in general tends to be a hidden source of sodium due to the glaze that is put on the bread that holds the olive oil and gives the bread its flavor. If you stay away from the bread that comes out before the meal, you will be able to avoid consuming extra sodium that has nothing to do with your meal. If you are worried about not being able to help yourself, either ask the waiter or waitress to not serve bread at your table or eat a small snack before coming to the restaurant in order to make sure that you're not starving.
2. Order a Salad With the Dressing on the Side
Next, order a salad in order to decrease the chances that you overdo it on pasta or another appetizer. Make sure that you ask for the dressing on the side because you won't know the exact sodium content of the dressing. Eating a salad decreases the chances that you'll overeat on foods that have more sodium because it fills you up before your entree even arrives.
3. Stay Away From Cheese and Other Salty Toppings
Finally, when you choose an entree, stay away from ones that have an especially high level of cheese because cheese tends to pack a lot of sodium. Entrees like lasagna, pizza, and cheese-stuffed ravioli are some entrees that have a ton of extra cheese. Instead, try to stick to entrees that are mostly just pasta, vegetables, and chicken or seafood covered in a light sauce. This will help you keep your sodium levels under control. Don't have extra Parmesan cheese added to your meal.
Also try to stay away from other toppings that have a lot of salt such as anchovies, salami, pepperoni, and olives if you choose to order a pizza.
For more information, talk to the chef of the Italian restaurant you're visiting. They might have the information you need to stay on your low sodium diet.