Q: My husband is on a low-sodium diet. He is a schoolteacher, so I am trying to find low-sodium lunch and snack ideas to pack him when he goes back to school. He used to eat sandwiches with deli lunchmeat, but these are very high in sodium. Do you have any low-sodium lunch and snack ideas?
A: You are correct that deli lunchmeat is typically loaded with sodium. It also frequently contains nitrates, a preservative that is linked to an increased cancer risk. One tip I have heard from another dietitian for sandwiches is to cook up a whole turkey like it were Thanksgiving, and then carve it and freeze the cutlets for sandwiches. One turkey should provide low- sodium lunchmeat for months! I’m sure you could do this with other types of meat as well.
I am also a big fan of dinner leftovers for lunch if he has access to a microwave. I pack a tupperware with the leftovers and keep it cool with an ice pack in my lunch box. Usually, I cook 1-2 meals on Sunday and portion them out for the entire week. I also cut up carrots, cucumbers and bell pepper and portion them out in tupperware containers for the week too.
Snack ideas include: fresh fruit, a handful of raw nuts, plain yogurt with fruit (and a little sweetener, artificial or Truvia if you want to avoid the sugar), low-sodium string cheese, peanut butter and celery, humus and vegetable sticks or low sodium Triscuts.
You also might check the labels of some canned tuna and see if you can find a brand that would fit the bill. A peanut butter and low-sugar jelly sandwich can also be good for a quick meal or snack.
The best way to cut sodium in your diet is to eat more whole, unprocessed foods (like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fresh meat and milk/yogurt) and to eat fewer highly processed foods.
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