One of the toughest parts about watching sodium intake is that it’s not always intuitive. If I’m watching saturated fat, I know not to order a juicy steak or anything smothered in cheese, because animal products like steak and cheeses are high in saturated fat. Sodium is much more elusive. Do you know how much sodium is in a steak or in cheddar cheese? I don’t! And what if the chef salts the steak? How much does that add?
I had my first low sodium attempt at a restaurant yesterday. It was my grandmother-in-law’s 85th Birthday celebration at the Outback Steakhouse:
Normally, I’d bemoan the fact that a national chain was selected for our outing, but most chains have nutrition information available on their websites! What a good way for me to “know before I go” -which will be my new restaurant dining mantra! Even if I can’t access the nutrition info online, I can at least check a menu ahead of time to scope out my possibilities.
After some poking around with their “interactive nutritional menu tool” I figured the lowest sodium I could probably get is 613mg for a full meal: The Victoria’s Filet 7oz cut, with “Fresh Seasonal Vegetables” – hold the seasoned butter!
Once I was at the table placing my order, I made sure to tell the waiter, “I’ll have the 7oz Victoria’s Filet, but with no seasoning because I’m on a low sodium diet. With the seasonal vegetables as my side, again with no seasoned butter or any seasoning” ….aaaargh! That hurts to type it. I’ve NEVER been a picky order-er! I think I’ll have to get used to it. He was definitely taking more time to scribble down my request. He must have actually put a note saying “low sodium diet” or something!
Now my only remaining confusion is whether my meal was actually around 613mg of sodium or not. The “interactive nutritional menu tool” on Outback’s website did not show an option on the filet to “hold the seasoning,” and it lists the meat alone as 564mg. According to the USDA Nutrient Database, a 7oz portion of “Beef, tenderloin, steak, separable lean and fat, trimmed to 0″ fat, all grades, cooked, broiled” delivers only 111mg of sodium. The remaining 453mg of sodium should account for about 1.13g of salt. I just measured 1.1g of salt on a scale, and it appears to be a good 1/4tsp or so. That seems like a plausible amount for a chef to sprinkle onto my meat… So if the chef really did “hold the seasoning,” I think I can safely assume my filet did not actually contain 564mg of sodium!
All in all, It was a tasty meal. I probably consumed around a respectable 159mg (the unseasoned veggies were listed as 48mg) Even though I can’t be sure, I’m still a winner because I made sure to “Know Before You Go!”
p.s. Here are the full nutritional stats for the meal, as reported by Outback:
|Dietary Fiber||3.9 g|
|Total Fat||47.0 g|
|Saturated Fat||21.5 g|
|Trans Fat||0.0 g|