Sodium and Fluid Restriction

Some health conditions may require you to restrict your sodium and fluid intake. Sodium is part of the salt in the blood. Sodium may be restricted because when you take in a lot of salt, you become thirsty. Limiting salt with help you become less thirsty and may make it easier to restrict fluid. Talk to your caregiver or dietician about how many cups of fluid and how many milligrams of sodium you are allowed each day. If your caregiver has restricted your sodium and fluids, usually the amount you can drink depends on several things, such as:

  • Your urine output.

  • How much fluid you are retaining.

  • Your blood pressure.

Every 2 cups (500 mL) of fluid retained in the body becomes an extra 1 pound (0.5 kg) of body weight. The following are examples of some fluids you will have to restrict:

  • Tea, coffee, soda, lemonade, milk, water, and juice.

  • Alcoholic beverages.

  • Cream.

  • Gravy.

  • Ice cubes.

  • Soup and broth.

The following are foods that become liquid at room temperature. These foods will count towards your fluid intake.

  • Ice cream and ice milk.

  • Frozen yogurt and sherbet.

  • Frozen ice pops.

  • Flavored gelatin.


  • Your weight increases.

  • Your face, hands, legs, feet, and abdomen start to swell.

  • You have trouble breathing.


If you follow a low sodium diet closely, you will eat approximately 1,500 mg of sodium a day.

  • Avoid salty foods. This increases your thirst and makes fluid control more difficult. Foods high in sodium include:

  • Most canned foods, including most meats.

  • Most processed foods, including most meats.

  • Cheese.

  • Dried pasta and rice mixes.

  • Snack foods (chips, popcorn, pretzels, cheese puffs, salted nuts).

  • Dips, sauces, and salad dressings.

  • Do not use salt in cooking or add salt to your meal. Cook with herbs and spices, but not those that have salt in the name. Ask your caregiver if it is okay to use salt substitutes.

  • Eat home-prepared meals. Use fresh ingredients. Avoid canned, frozen, or packaged meals.

  • Read food labels to see how much sodium is in the food. Know how much sodium you are allowed each day.

  • When eating out, ask for dressings and sauces on the side.

  • Weigh yourself every morning with an empty bladder before you eat or drink. If your weight is going up, you are retaining fluid.

  • Freeze fruit juice or water in an ice cube tray. Use this as part of your fluid allowance.

  • Brush your teeth often or rinse your mouth with mouthwash to help your dry mouth. Lemon wedges, hard sour candies, chewing gum, or breath spray may help to moisten your mouth too.

  • Add a slice of fresh lemon or lemon juice to water or ice. This helps satisfy your thirst.

  • Try frozen fruits between meals, such as grapes or strawberries.

  • Swallow your pills along with meals or soft foods. This helps you save your fluid for something you enjoy.

  • Use small cups and glasses and learn to sip fluids slowly.

  • Keep your home cooler. Keep the air in your home as humid as possible. Dry air increases thirst.

  • Avoid being out in the hot sun.

Each morning, fill a jug with the amount of water you are allowed for the day. You can use this water as a guideline for fluid allowance. Each time you take in fluid, pour an equal amount of water out of the container. This helps you to see how much fluid you are taking in. It also helps plan your fluid intake for the rest of the day.


  • 1 cup equals 8 oz (240 mL).

  • ¾ cup equals 6 oz (180 mL).

  • ⅔ cup equals 5 ⅓ oz (160 mL).

  • ½ cup equals 4 oz (120 mL).

  • ⅓ cup equals 2 ⅔ oz (80 mL).

  • ¼ cup equals 2 oz (60 mL).

  • 2 tbs equals 1 oz (30 mL).