Dining Out with High Blood PressureFood and Diet

Eating Out with High Blood Pressure

It’s Saturday! Yay! I went to a local restaurant to enjoy some fish burritos today. Saturday lunch is my one day a week where I let loose a bit and eat (mostly) what I want. Everyone has different opinions about these so called “cheat days” but honestly, I’m looking for balance not perfection. Different strategies work for different people. I chose a grilled fish burrito with the salsa on the side, and it was delightful!

When I was first diagnosed with high blood pressure and told to eat a heart healthy diet, I was pretty devastated to be honest. Less salt? Less fat? Ugh! How am I supposed to do that? Dining out is a big part of life’s pleasures for me and the questions raced through my head: Can I eat out if I have high blood pressure? How can I eat a low sodium diet when I’m in a restaurant?

Dining out is a big part of socializing with friends and family. I brainstormed some tips on how you can eat lower salt, lower fat, and just healthier in general when you are not in the comfort of your own home. Here you go!

5 Tips for Dining Out When You Have High Blood Pressure

  1. Call Ahead and Speak to a Chef or Manager: Communication is key here. Before selecting a restaurant for your birthday celebration, consider calling ahead to see if they have any suggestions for low salt options. Give them a heads up that you are coming. I’ve found many chefs to be willing to accommodate and I’m so grateful for them! This can help lower your anxiety and also minimize the length of conversations that need to be had with the waiter when you arrive!
  2. Ask for the “Sauce on the Side”: A lot of fat and salt is hidden inside sauces. Haha or maybe not so hidden, you can practically see the butter gleaming on that food, can’t you? Getting the sauce on the side allows you to control how much you put on your food. You can get a taste of the flavor but also significantly reduce the amount of salt and fat. In terms of sauce, I am referring to sauces that are used to glaze or cook hot foods in. It also refers to salad dressings. Definitely do not get salads with the dressing tossed in!
  3. Ask for Food to be Cooked “Plain” and without “Seasoning”: I already mentioned asking for the sauce on the side but note that table salt or other salty spice mixtures might still be sprinkled on top of meats and veggies as part of the journey to add more flavor. Remember: just 1/4 teaspoon of table salt is 575mg of sodium. YIKES! It’s worth asking to see if the chef can leave that out.
  4. Choose Carbohydrates that Can Be Served Plain: Without carbs such as rice, noodles, or potatoes, it’s hard to feel full after a meal. If you plan to have carbs and there’s the option to choose: white rice and white or whole grain pastas often have higher possibility of being cooked plain without added seasoning. If given a choice between whole grain and white, consider the whole grain since it is a slow burning carb and avoids sudden spikes in blood sugar.
  5. Make a List of Restaurants and Low Salt Meal Options: Pull out a note on your cellphone and write down places you can go and what you can get. When hunger strikes, it helps to have a quick reference cheatsheet so you’re less likely to hit the drive through and get that salty burger!

Remember: Some positive change is better than no change! Don’t be too hard on yourself and celebrate the small successes as you try to eat more healthy healthy by lowering the salt in your dining out habits!

It will take your taste buds time to adjust to food that is not quite so salt and fat heavy. In time, you might even find the old food you used to eat to be very salty and intense! This is not an easy journey but trying to lower blood pressure through diet is a very effective natural method.

This will definitely be an ongoing discussion in this blog because I love dining out! I imagine a lot of you do too. More to come!

fish with sauce on the side to lower salt for a healthy healthy low sodium diet
Grilled fish with sauce on the side (Image Courtesy of Pexels)

Want to read more about how to lower your blood pressure naturally with food? Check out the related blog posts below!

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