1. Again, nothing fried, brined, slathered in butter or covered with cheese. Lamest rule ever. If you "need" fried food, ask for it without salt or seasoning on top and add pepper when it gets to the table. Avoid brine altogether, as it is basically salt solution. If you really like the taste of butter, try Smart Balance Buttery Spreads. There are many varieties, but there is specifically a Low Sodium option that is best for you. Finally, if you really feel you cannot live without cheese, try sliced swiss, as it is usually pretty low. For shredded varieties, always go with 1/8 of a cup or 1/4 of a cup of white cheeses (which isn't very much, but it gets the taste there), which are lower in sodium than yellow/orange varieties and usually less processed. I go with Parmesan cheese, the kind that you sprinkle on your pasta, as it usually is the most potent. Even though a serving size is only 2 tsps, it only has 75 mg of sodium in that serving size, which gives you that cheesy, salty taste without deviating too much from the diet.
2. Ask to have your food prepared without (extra) salt, butter, or MSG. Some places actually toast their bread with extra butter or margarine or salt all their food before serving it to you. Asking for it plain or without added salt/butter/seasoning can save you some SERIOUS sodium. If you don't like the food plain, ask for just pepper on your food or start bringing saltless seasoning mixes with you, such as Mrs. Dash. Look for varieties of seasonings that say salt free on them
3. Stick to foods you can make easily at home such as steak, burgers, veggies, and chicken that isn't listed as marinated. Often chicken is marinaded, and marinades are really salty, so avoiding chicken unless it can be cooked plain is recommended. Steak is usually your best bet, as well as steamed veggies. Again, do your research. Even if you look up the estimated amount of sodium in a dish, it is just that: an estimation. The nutrition facts aren't guaranteed, so don't use these facts as a bible, just a guideline.
4. Avoid bread/rolls as much as possible. Bread, or anything made with yeast, cannot be made without salt and is usually high in sodium. One roll can have 350 mg of sodium in it, and in a 2000 mg/day diet, you should only eat about 500 mg of sodium per meal. Of course, with three meals a day, this only adds up to 1500 mg. The other 500 are usually split into two snacks. Looking at bread's sodium by itself, THAT IS A LOT and too much sodium to consume in just ONE ELEMENT of your meal! Get lettuce wraps for your sandwiches if you can, and don't eat table bread. One good thing to know: you can ask for Olive Garden breadsticks without the butter and garlic salt on top, which, if you're like me, saves your life, because you can't stop eating those bad boys.
5. Avoid pasta in restaurants. Even though pasta itself (about 99% of the time) has 0 mg of sodium in it, this is only the case if you DO NOT add salt to the water, which is a very common practice as it helps water boil faster. At home, don't add salt to the water and use Low Sodium Smart Balance Butter or Extra Virgin Olive Oil instead of salted butter to moisten your pasta once it is cooked. Restaurants usually REFUSE to make you separate pasta without the salt, as they make it in a HUGE community pot. The one place that does accommodate you is Macaroni Grill, so ALWAYS go there if you want pasta at a restaurant. And avoid sauces and cheeses as much as possible.
6. Salad dressings are usually a NO. Salad dressings tend to be VERY high in sodium. Order Oil and Vinegar when you can, as neither oil nor vinegar have any sodium, and olive oil is good for you in moderation. If you cannot order oil and vinegar, honey mustard is usually your next best bet, but watch the AMOUNT you put on. Always put on the SMALLEST AMOUNT POSSIBLE.
7. ANYTHING in a can is off limits. Again, food items in a can are usually in some kind of brine or salt water, and canned soups can pack as many as 690 mg of sodium per serving, and a serving size of soup is usually listed as half a can, which means that there are more than 1200 mg of sodium in a can! That is out of hand! Craving soup? Try homemade! My mom has a recipe that is FANTASTIC that I will make sure I post later. Don't feel like putting fourth the effort? Bob Evans' chicken noodle has only about 390 mg in a cup, so it isn't too ridiculous for soup.
These are the tips I have found to be the most helpful, having been on this diet since Thanksgiving. Again, the more you eat at home, the easier it will be on you, but if you HAVE to go out, take this tips to heart! When you can, always look up nutritional info and read labels and side panels to figure out what is really okay to eat, and what is too much.
Any questions? Comment below, Anchor Angels. You can do this (: