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Old 01-24-2013, 10:53 AM   #1
shortchef
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Surprised by how difficult the low sodium issue is!

As a frequent visitor and HUGE fan, I'm disappointed by what I'm learning about low sodium food choices in Disney World. Since my last visit, I've found that I have high blood pressure and that requires a low sodium diet. Since its so common, its surprising that its not easier to plan for. I understand that someone can mention a low sodium preference when making a reservation and/or when at a dining location but I feel that so much that could be done to make it easier for those of us who must restrict sodium. It would be great if Disney would, for example, put together a list of restaurant locations that are well prepared for low sodium requests and/or have one or two low sodium selections on the menu (counter service as well as sit down) at at least one location in each park.
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Old 01-24-2013, 11:00 AM   #2
minnie mum
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Originally Posted by shortchef View Post
As a frequent visitor and HUGE fan, I'm disappointed by what I'm learning about low sodium food choices in Disney World. Since my last visit, I've found that I have high blood pressure and that requires a low sodium diet. Since its so common, its surprising that its not easier to plan for. I understand that someone can mention a low sodium preference when making a reservation and/or when at a dining location but I feel that so much that could be done to make it easier for those of us who must restrict sodium. It would be great if Disney would, for example, put together a list of restaurant locations that are well prepared for low sodium requests and/or have one or two low sodium selections on the menu (counter service as well as sit down) at at least one location in each park.
I'm sure everyone who has one kind of dietary restriction or another would like the same thing. But do you honestly expect Disney to do this for everyone?. A list for low sodium. A list for gluten free. A list for diabetics. A list for high potassium. A list for low carb. A list for high protein. A list for those allergic to nuts. A list for........... see the problem? You are the one with the restriction. It's your job to let Disney know what that restriction is when you have a TS ADR. And it's your job to do look at menus in advance if necessary. And it's your job to ask for the ingredient book if necessary at the CS spots. Disney already goes above and beyond what most other theme parks do. They cannot possibly cater to every possible dietary restriction out there.
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Old 01-24-2013, 11:45 AM   #3
shortchef
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Originally Posted by minnie mum View Post
I'm sure everyone who has one kind of dietary restriction or another would like the same thing. But do you honestly expect Disney to do this for everyone?. A list for low sodium. A list for gluten free. A list for diabetics. A list for high potassium. A list for low carb. A list for high protein. A list for those allergic to nuts. A list for........... see the problem? You are the one with the restriction. It's your job to let Disney know what that restriction is when you have a TS ADR. And it's your job to do look at menus in advance if necessary. And it's your job to ask for the ingredient book if necessary at the CS spots. Disney already goes above and beyond what most other theme parks do. They cannot possibly cater to every possible dietary restriction out there.
Omigosh .... you're kidding, right? No need to be so unpleasant.

But, to topic, no I don't see the problem that you see. Besides, since hypertension affects 1 out of 3 Americans under the age of 55 and 1 out of 2 Americans over the age of 55, that is hardly "catering to every possible dietary restriction out there". Far more people are supposed to be on a low sodium diet than any other dietary need or request out there.

I've been to WDW over 100 times and I read the menus frequently since I'm a chef and food is of such interest to me. I like to see the changes and updates before a visit. Knowing alot about food preparation and restaurant procedure in general, I can tell you that reading the menu will not give much information on sodium levels.

I understand that this is not an area where you would like to be helpful and that is certainly ok, but perhaps someone else would. Maybe someone has a personal experience with this topic at a dining location that would be helpful to share with those of us hoping for more info. Thx so much!
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Old 01-24-2013, 12:43 PM   #4
jwfla422
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Unfortunately this is not just at WDW but at many, many restaurants everywhere especially chains. I recall my dh had high blood pressure a few yrs back and we were getting very strict with sodium so I'd look up the nutritional facts of many of the restaurants in our area, even the "healthy" choices were loaded with sodium (like grilled fish, chicken breast, etc), some are naturally high in sodium and then adding salt makes it worse, all dishes well over 1500 2000 mgs of sodium and that was just the main dish.

WDW does have special dishes/etc that cater to a variety of health/special diet issues, you need to note that when making your ADRs. Not sure what the options are but just something to keep in mind.
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Old 01-24-2013, 12:50 PM   #5
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At TS restaurants, you can absolutely request that the chef prepare your food low sodium. Some things can't be done (if meat's already been marinated, sauces can't be altered, casserole/single dish meals can't be altered as they're generally premade, etc) but chefs can absolutely prepare low sodium dishes.

The problem with low sodium foods at CS locations is that very (and I mean VERY) few people would want the low sodium options (most with hypertension ignore the recommendation to go low sodium) because quick prepared food that works for CS typically needs the sodium to make it taste good. Also, whose definition of low sodium do they go by? Many people say that they want low sodium but some need SIGNIFICANTLY lower sodium than others so if Disney labels something as low sodium, what benchmark does it need to meet? What if somebody else needs lower than that but is counting on that label to keep them safe? Unfortunately, when you have any kind of medical dietary need, you really do need to speak with a chef or manager to make sure that your needs are met. Yes this takes more effort, but try to think of it from the perspective of Disney is trying to make sure that your medical needs are fully met even if it does mean more work. Your health is worth that. This is coming from somebody who never gets CS food in less than 20 minutes from the time I place my order and that's after having waited for a manager and taking time scouring a binder to be sure that what I'm ordering is safe (in our case it's allergies, not low sodium).

minnie_mum, Disney does provide lists for each of the top 8 allergens. No need to jump down somebody's throat for asking a question or pointing out a frustrating experience.
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Old 01-24-2013, 01:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shortchef

Omigosh .... you're kidding, right? No need to be so unpleasant.

But, to topic, no I don't see the problem that you see. Besides, since hypertension affects 1 out of 3 Americans under the age of 55 and 1 out of 2 Americans over the age of 55, that is hardly "catering to every possible dietary restriction out there". Far more people are supposed to be on a low sodium diet than any other dietary need or request out there.

I've been to WDW over 100 times and I read the menus frequently since I'm a chef and food is of such interest to me. I like to see the changes and updates before a visit. Knowing alot about food preparation and restaurant procedure in general, I can tell you that reading the menu will not give much information on sodium levels.

I understand that this is not an area where you would like to be helpful and that is certainly ok, but perhaps someone else would. Maybe someone has a personal experience with this topic at a dining location that would be helpful to share with those of us hoping for more info. Thx so much!
You have a great attitude! I just had to say that. I don't have any experience with the low sodium diet, but I do have experience with dietary restrictions at WDW. I'm sure at most table service (not buffet) the chefs will be able to make you something you can eat. As for quick service, might be harder. Good luck!
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Old 01-25-2013, 07:31 AM   #7
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Some very good points here and I agree with you. And a thank you for that very kind compliment! It is true that many people ignore the doctor's directions to follow a low sodium plan and that may well be one of the reasons that it is not a little easier (such as marking an item on the menu) or why so many people have high blood pressure. I'm not positive but I believe the guideline to mark something low sodium is by a comparison percentage to a like item, same as the guidelines to mark something as lowfat. That would make a good search for after work! The healthy or lowfat options, such as a grilled chicken breast, are often higher in sodium that the full fat counterpart because salt and fat (heaven help us all) both taste delicious and if one is lowered, the other is often upped to compensate for flavor.

Any feedback from others on where they did well with a low sodium meal would be much appreciated. So far, I have noted that for counter service, Columbia Harbor House and Sunshine Seasons look like good possibilities and I'm thinking that any sit down restaurant with a good selection of fish is a good pick. Since fish is so delicate, you can't prep it too far ahead and many items in a restaurant are half way there before you even arrive. I enjoy fish but would rather not eat it every day though!
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Old 01-25-2013, 04:17 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by minnie mum View Post
I'm sure everyone who has one kind of dietary restriction or another would like the same thing. But do you honestly expect Disney to do this for everyone?. A list for low sodium. A list for gluten free. A list for diabetics. A list for high potassium. A list for low carb. A list for high protein. A list for those allergic to nuts. A list for........... see the problem? You are the one with the restriction. It's your job to let Disney know what that restriction is when you have a TS ADR. And it's your job to do look at menus in advance if necessary. And it's your job to ask for the ingredient book if necessary at the CS spots. Disney already goes above and beyond what most other theme parks do. They cannot possibly cater to every possible dietary restriction out there.
While I wouldn't have said it quite this way, I agree with the sentiment. Disney would get requests for all kinds of lists of places safe for various restrictions. And since menus change from time to time, it would be almost impossible to keep current with everything restaurant and every food at every park and every resort.

I understand about hypertension and the affect on adults. My husband has high blood pressure and have been on a low sodium diet for quite a while. But he's on vacation so just takes his meds and watches out as much as he can. Fortunately, his hypertension is controllable via the diet he follows 51 weeks a year and his meds.
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Old 01-25-2013, 04:30 PM   #9
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All Walt Disney World restaurants which accept reservations can accommodate lifestyle dietary needs associated with restrictions or lifestyle choices. These include but are not limited to no sugar added, low fat, low sodium, low carbohydrate, vegetarian and vegan.

Most Lifestyle Dietary needs at Disney Dinner shows can be accommodated if ordered at least 24 hours in advance by calling 407-WDW-DINE. Please alert the reservation agent to all needs and which member(s) of the dining party they refer to. In some instances, further communication with the dinner show dining location may be required to ensure best service.

For all Full Service restaurants, Guests should advise their server at the location upon being seated. Most Quick Service locations offer a menu variety that will accommodate most lifestyle dining options. Guests can refer to their Theme Park guidemaps for locations marked with the "red apple" symbol.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So for your ADRs, give them a heads up!
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Old 01-26-2013, 05:05 AM   #10
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This has certainly been frustrating and I'm sure that there is no rational reason for people to become absurdly unpleasant at all ..... let alone over a good idea.

Check the stats on our country's obesity rates (number one in the world), heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and the most recent that the new generation will be the first to have a shorter life span than their parents. Check the fat, calories, and sodium level in the average fast food meal before suggesting again that I am some kind of primadonna for wanting a handful of options. It's not like I'm asking for all meals at all locations to be within the recommended guidelines for calories, fat, salt, and sugar.
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Old 01-26-2013, 07:51 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by shortchef View Post
This has certainly been frustrating and I'm sure that there is no rational reason for people to become absurdly unpleasant at all ..... let alone over a good idea.

Check the stats on our country's obesity rates (number one in the world), heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and the most recent that the new generation will be the first to have a shorter life span than their parents. Check the fat, calories, and sodium level in the average fast food meal before suggesting again that I am some kind of primadonna for wanting a handful of options. It's not like I'm asking for all meals at all locations to be within the recommended guidelines for calories, fat, salt, and sugar.
No one has been unpleasant and no one suggsted you are a prima donna. You are over reacting. As others have suggested, I feel it is your responsibility to research and seek the answers you need. There is a special dietary number that you can call. Perhaps they can help you.
I wonder, as a chef, did you even care for this topic before it affected you personally.
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Old 01-26-2013, 09:02 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by minnie mum View Post
I'm sure everyone who has one kind of dietary restriction or another would like the same thing. But do you honestly expect Disney to do this for everyone?. A list for low sodium. A list for gluten free. A list for diabetics. A list for high potassium. A list for low carb. A list for high protein. A list for those allergic to nuts. A list for........... see the problem? You are the one with the restriction. It's your job to let Disney know what that restriction is when you have a TS ADR. And it's your job to do look at menus in advance if necessary. And it's your job to ask for the ingredient book if necessary at the CS spots. Disney already goes above and beyond what most other theme parks do. They cannot possibly cater to every possible dietary restriction out there.
Perfectly said..
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Old 01-26-2013, 09:05 AM   #13
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This has certainly been frustrating and I'm sure that there is no rational reason for people to become absurdly unpleasant at all ..... let alone over a good idea.

Check the stats on our country's obesity rates (number one in the world), heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and the most recent that the new generation will be the first to have a shorter life span than their parents. Check the fat, calories, and sodium level in the average fast food meal before suggesting again that I am some kind of primadonna for wanting a handful of options. It's not like I'm asking for all meals at all locations to be within the recommended guidelines for calories, fat, salt, and sugar.
But it's not a good idea; it's nonsense. People can make their own choices. We don't need Disney to be the food police. So what happens, I can't go to the YS and have prime rib because my cholesterol is high.
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Old 01-26-2013, 09:58 AM   #14
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I don't agree that Disney should offer lists of recommended restaurants for various types of health and dietary issues. However, I do think Disney should make nutritional information available. Several people have mentioned that it is an individual's responsibility to do the research and find meals appropriate to their own situations. I agree, but that's not possible to do when the information you need to make an informed decision is not available. Restaurant food can be deceiving, and often the items that might be a logical choice for someone with a dietary restriction can have hidden salt, fat, carbs, etc. that you wouldn't expect. I know the argument against providing this information is usually "each batch could vary." While that is true, it is unlikely to vary from 76 g of carbohydrates to 15 g or from 1500 mg of sodium to 200 mg. Making this information available allows guests to make a more informed decision based on facts rather than wild guesses. I have found myself dealing with dangerously low blood sugar more than once because I took a guess on carb counts and ended up being wrong. That would not happen with access to nutritional info.

I'm hopeful that this is already in the works though. BOG has offered complete nutritional information since it opened. I have a feeling this will be rolled out at other restaurants over time.
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Old 01-26-2013, 05:39 PM   #15
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My sympathies are completely with the OP here. Sadly, I can't think of a good way to help. My mother has been on an very limited sodium diet for several years now (congestive heart failure), and we literally do count every mg of sodium in her foods and beverages. Food issues are one major reason why she no longer comes with us to WDW.

It's a little different than the problems someone with a food allergy faces. If you are allergic to peanuts, for instance, you simply avoid all foods that have peanuts in them. If it's a severe case you may have to ask about possible cross-contamination. But sodium content is not something that you can see or that you can even guess at, because often it has to do with how the foods were preserved originally. Example: a can of green beans. A can by Brand X has 560 mg of sodium per serving. A can by Brand Y has 20 mg of sodium per serving. Neither one is necessarily better or even cheaper; it just has to do with the processing method used. When green beans are on the menu at a restaurant, though, the purchaser has no idea which brand and therefore which sodium content they are getting. Heck, the kitchen may not even know unless you can get somebody to go read the label for you.

So for sodium it's not just whether the chef adds salt in the cooking process; it's the food's natural sodium content plus everything that has happened to that food product before it reaches the kitchen.
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