A Chart to Help Keep Your Sodium Low While You Dine Out After Driving in the Snow

First, note that February 7 is Wear Red for Women Day!  I only have a plain red T-shirt.  I guess I will wear it over long sleeves to hang out at home (medical leave).  I am going to http://www.shopheart.org to find a couple things to wear any time, and I’ll be ready for future February’s.  Maybe I’ll buy a St. Louis Cardinals red shirt, and that will cover everything.  This is the first year that wearing red truly has personal meaning.

The world outside my window is beautiful – blanketed with snow.  I wish I could walk my dogs in the cold weather.  For 5 1/2 years, I rarely let the cold and snow stop us, pulling on snow bibs and boots and getting out there in zero degree weather in the early morning before work.  I did it for my two black Labrador retrievers, Kiera and Jasmine, and for me, as it made me feel like I had overcome something.  I can’t wait until the weather warms up to 45 F or so, and on a non-windy day, I can walk the girls again.  Extreme temperature is the preventative for those of us with congestive heart failure (whatever the cause).

I love the snow, until I must drive on it and endure a slower go on the 35 miles to my workplace in St. Louis.  I am on medical leave right now, tentatively going back on March 3rd, so I love it even more. Hopefully this winter will lose some harshness before I go back.

I would rather not have my heart condition; I would rather be bundling up, driving, and feeling normal.  Based on my past experience and that of many  Christians I know, and the experiences of godly people in the Bible, I know that God has plans for us that take us beyond “normal”, plans that ultimately good. Often these plans are accomplished through challenges, difficulties and suffering.

   Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV):   11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

***Now to the main topic. a handy-dandy sodium chart to help us when dining out.  I gathered information from fast-food restaurants, plus some general tips about dining out in general.  I put them into a table that I created in Word, as I did not think that copy-pasting from Excel would work.  You will find some  formatting inconsistencies, as I could not determine how to delete columns.

At some point, I was frustrated with the comparison websites leaving out information, and I got tired of going to individual sites. It was taking too much time by the time I got to pizza, so there’s less detail there.  I hope you will find the chart useful.  My purpose was to create something I can print and cut out into a reference to carry in a purse, as well as having a useful quick reference for readers, so the font is reduced., **When viewing it online, you should be able to enlarge by pressing the keys Shift and +.

 **My chart primarily lists the foods that are less than 1000 mg sodium.  For myself, I do not dine out often, and I would not eat the foods over 700 mg unless it was dinner.   Some establishments are listed as eye-openers.

Also know that I will have a separate chart and post for the foods we might eat at home.

For charts specific to each restaurant, with full nutrition information on various places from a one-stop, go to the following website.  Click on the restaurant. To see the nutrition chart that enables you to see all the numbers in one screen, click on the Nutrition Chart button on the main page for the restaurant.  Plan for plenty of scrolling…and shock.

**My chart is better, so please check it out first before you get distracted in the website.


FAST FOOD RESTAURANT SODIUM MG Notes or recommended exclusions.
Hamburger 480
Cheeseburger 680
Fish Filet 590
Grilled Chicken Classic 820
Snack wrap w grilled chicken 650-670
McChicken 800
Yogurt parfait 70
Salad Southwest chicken w grilled chicken 650 The nutrition chart shows 340 for the Southwest dressing. It is not clear if this is already part of the 650 mg.
French fries – small 160
Smoothie 40-50
Egg McMuffin 780- ( 800white only)
Sausage Burrito 790
Oatmeal 115-160
Chicken tenders – 3 pcs. 770
Cheeseburger – double 820
Turkey Burger 930
Roast Beef – Regular 850
Cheeseburger – small 710
Hamburger – small 480
Mashed Potatoes 410
French fries – kids nat cut 450 (included to show the high content for the smallest serving)
Side salad, no dressing 160 (must be for croutons)
Cinnamon Raisin Biscuit 680 (300 cals and 15 g fat)
Pancakes (3) 830 (300 cals, 5 fat)
Hash Rounds -Small 360 (250 cals and 16 fat)
Hamburger 610-840
Dbl cheeseburger 920
Grilled chicken sandwich 860
Roast beef 800
WENDY’S Sodium
Hamburger, junior 600
Cheeseburger, jr. 800
Deluxe junior 830
Ultimate Chicken Grill 880
Chicken, crispy go-wrap 910
Chicken, grilled go-wrap 740
Chili, small 790
ARBY’S Sauces add from 160 (horsey to 720 (buffalo dipping sauce for chicken tenders)
I usually include only the items that are below 900.  I almost excluded Arby’s from the chart but decided to include it as more of a warning.  I love(d) this place.  Now it is on my “forget it” list. Bummer.
Salad dressings add 230 (Hon Must) to 750 (Lt Ital)
Curly fries are the highest in sodium among the mg on fries at various restaurants.
Roast Beef Classic 970
Chopped Farmhouse Salad w Turkey 780
Snack n Save Jr. Roast Beef 530
Other Jr. Size over 800
Breakfast sandwiches are all off the charts.
SUBWAY Many variables depending on toppings.  If you add mayonnaise, pickles, etc., the numbers will increase.
Oven Roasted Chicken 6” 610 via Subway’s website using Calculate Yours, customized at right. Flatbread or 9-grain Wheat, Swiss cheese (the lowest sodium chs); olive oil blend, lettuce, tomato, green peppers
Turkey Breast 6” 670 (same all)
Harvest Chicken Salad –*Small Only* -with my own (Newmans Rasp Vin Light) dressing – 480 Salad only (starts with honey-dijon chk salad…perhaps ask for plain??)
Acai vin dressing 320
Chili – small 550
CAPTAIN D’s NOTES:  Exclude fried items.  Skip or reduce cocktail and tartar sauce.  Watch the sides (below)!  Do not eat the rice.
A winner!
Grilled salmon 392
Seasoned tilapia 488
Grilled shrimp skewers 344
Stuffed flounder 589
Grilled shrimp 570
Grilled chicken 718
Wild salmon salad 539
Watch the sides!   Baked potato = 539, Green beans = 627, Seasoned rice that comes with grilled items automatically = 500+
Broccoli 20
Corn on the cob (before butter) 0
Breadstick 149 Just eat half!
Side salad 67
TACO BELL Go very light on the taco sauce, Perhaps ask for cheese on the side.
<<This is true of dining out at other Mexican restaurants.
The only option is a SOFT TACO:  Supreme 350 / Chicken 480/ Beef 570 / Steak 630
The 3 Chicken Wraps range from 710 (crispy flamethrower) to 760 (grilled) Calories range 290 and 15 fat (grilled) to crispy flamethrower (370 and 22).
Original Cheeseburger 930 380 calories, 19 g fat
(reduce by asking for no cheese (200 mg diff.) and condiments on side. The mushroom swissburger is slightly lower
Hot Dog, regular 750
footlong 1300
Ice cream treats
Cones, not dipped Range from 70 (kid-size) to 200 (large) Calories range from 70 to 130.
Dip them, and add 20.
Sundae, hot fudge, range by size 135-280 Calories 300-610
Blizzard, mini, lowest is Hawaiian to highest Oreo Cookie 125 to 280 Cals  300 to 380
Dilly Bar 75 220 cal
(Italian Cuisine fast food)
Lite Baked Spaghetti 500
Chicken Mshrm Alf Bake 1100 I’d only consider for dinner…
**PIZZA*** 1)  A key factor for pizza is the crust.
2) Generally, the more meat and cheese, the thicker the crust, the higher on sodium (and fat and calories).
Our usual pizza source for pick-up   (it’s take and bake) All are Large, based on 1/10th of the pizza.  **Except where noted, these are cheese pizzas.
My family’s favorite.
Pepperoni (De-Lites crust) 300 Compare to Original crust at 706
Cowboy (pep, ssg, blk olv mushrm) (De-Lites crust) 409 Compare to Original Crust at 851 mg
**  REMAINING PIZZA PLACES, READ ACROSS – Comparison of  14” CHEESE THIN / REGULAR (Hand-Tossed) Crust 1/10th of a pizza**   (shown Thin / Regular)  For more details – http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/pizza-least-salt-sodium.php
Domino’s:  194 / 509 Little Caesars Pizza Hut  594 / 631
218 / 404
Papa Johns:  461 / 678 Papa Murphys
202 / 565
GENERAL – Dining out (Appetizers) -Soup
(or at home) -Fresh fruit and vegetables -Crackers
-Unsalted nuts -Cheese dips
-Dried fruits or banana chips -Cocktail sauce
-Swiss or goat cheese -Meatballs
-Feta, brie, and most other cheeses
SALADS -Tossed greens -Three-bean
-Carrot/raisin -Anything mayo-based
-Gelatin salads
Dressings -Vinaigrette, or oil and vinegar -Creamy (ranch, french)
-Zesty Italian
Toppings Veggies, egg Bacon bits, croutons
MEXICAN Ceviche Salty chips
Grilled fish or chicken Cheesy dishes, like enchiladas and quesadillas
Request sauces on the side Beef or chicken tacos or tostadas Burritos
Ask that cheese not be added to your meal Corn tortillas Beans and rice
Substitute corn tortillas for flour Fresh salsa or pico de gallo Chorizo (Mexican sausage)
Guacamole Flour tortillas
ITALIAN Pastas with marinara sauce Antipasto platters
Pasta/fagoli or marsala dishes Cheese or cream sauces
Primavera Adding grated cheese
Piccata (hold the capers) Breads and rolls
Oil and vinegar dressing
Italian ices
ASIAN -Steamed rice -Lo mein or chow mein
– Steamed or stir-fried dishes with vegetables
Leave sauce on the plate -Bean curd or tofu items -Deep fried or battered dishes (tempura)
-Sweet and sour,
Ask for no MSG chili, or garlic sauces (although still high these have the lowest amounts) -Black bean, hoisin, plum, fish and oyster sauces





Sodium Restriction – A Challenge

The First Challenge at Home – Eating

I came home from the hospital on January 2, 2014.  The first week home was quite challenging.  An oral thrush infection had begun in the hospital, I guess my bacterial balance was off due to the antibiotics.  My tongue was starting to hurt, avoiding sugar and bread are recommended to prevent the thrush, a yeast, from getting worse. Canker sores appeared on my lower lip. It hurt to eat Raisin Bran.  I got a prescription of Nylastatin, I popped some garlic and acidophilus pills, and I ate yogurt.  On January 14, I was able to say that my mouth felt fine.  Thank you, God!

Worse than the thrush problem was the realization that, permanently, I must now follow a low-sodium diet.  I have always watched calories and fat, I am not one to be heavy on the salt-shaker, and my blood pressure is always well below the 120 on the top number, even without the medications I was prescribed.  Do I really need to stay under 2000 mg? What the heck can I eat?  This is a new ballgame.

I lost my appetite for awhile and added Boost to the short list of things I consumed.  The first week I saw the scale drop 12 pounds, due additionally to diuretics like Lasix and spironolactone, and to loss of muscle mass.

I learned quickly the impact of restricting my sodium.  I normally have a hard-boiled egg as part of my breakfast, for a little protein, with a little salt and pepper.  Salt from the shaker is a no-no.  Not that I use a teaspoon of it at one time, but a teaspoon of salt contains more than the day’s limit of sodium.  That tells me I should not use it, period.   An egg without salt is incredibly bland.

I had often alternated Egg Beaters with the hard-boiled eggs. Less fat and calories.  Of course, it has sodium.  The original variety has 90 per 3 TBSP.  Egg whites have 75 per 3 TBSP.  I have been mixing one real egg with the one serving of Egg Beaters, and sprinkling Mrs. Dash Table Blend.  Not too bad.  It is okay on an hard-boiled egg as well.  I have read on forums that sage, thyme, garlic, and hot sauce are tasty alternatives on scrambled eggs.  Note that hot sauce has its own sodium.

**Check out my links on the home page, currently on the right margin.  I added a few links regarding sodium, and I plan to keep adding sites about sodium and dilated cardiomyopathy.


On January 16, when I decided to get out of the house and accompany my husband to the veterinarian (30-minute drive) for a 6 pm appointment, I knew we had to grab dinner at a fast-food restaurant.  I looked up the content for various establishments.  I found a website with links to multiple places; I cannot find that site now.  I scribbled down the lowest items.

The information useful for that first dinner experience allowed me to choose between McDonalds and Arbys.  Having counted my sodium all day, I still had 1000 mg available on a 2000 maximum.  McDonald’s offered:  Fish filet at 590, grilled chicken classic at 820, a hamburger (the small one) at 480 or cheeseburger at 680 mg.  Wow, the cheese makes a 200 mg difference.  A  yogurt parfait, which I usually substitute for fries anyway, has only 70 mg.  Since the only item at Arby’s* that looked filling enough for dinner was the Roast Beef Classic at 970 mg, we went to McDonald’s.  I ordered a hamburger with no toppings*, I used just a little of a ketchup packet, and enjoyed a yogurt parfait.

*Pickles are high in salt, so it helps to exclude them.  Mayonnaise (110 mg/2 TB), ketchup, and mustard add sodium, too.  I don’t like pickles anyway, and the other condiments I like to keep light as well.  Not much of a sacrifice.   I do like Arby’s, so I am bummed out about their lack of options. Their lowest sodium salad (Chopped Farmhouse with Roasted Turkey) was at 780 and I did not feel like eating salad as you don’t know how much meat they include.  Maybe if I took my own salad dressing it would’ve been do-able.  Arby’s lowest salad dressing is at 230 (honey mustard).

 The plan for some posts in the near-future:

I am working on charts to list the lower sodium options for some fast-food restaurants, general tips about dining out, and sodium content I’ve noted for eating at home.  I want to have something neat to put in my purse as reference when I dine out.  I love to share helpful information with others, so I will be posting the charts when I am finished.  I hope it helps someone like me; I have not found one website that has everything, and I won’t bother with the higher sodium foods.  I will have one post for the dining out information and another for eating at home.  It may be more broken out that that, as I don’t want something super long that requires lots of scrolling.

I love the Bible and there are so many verses that I try to apply to my life and which comfort me, remind me of God’s love, faithfulness, and goodness and keep my worry level to a minimum.  Today I have started signing off with Scripture, so here it is for today:

..but those who hope in the Lord renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.(Isaiah 40:31)

Isaiah 40-31