The Deli Dilemma

Deli sandwiches can make for a quick and easy meal. The trick to healthy deli choices is to know which starches and proteins are your best options and which toppings are the most nutritious.

A foot-long submarine sandwich can be equivalent to nearly six slices of bread, so keep portions controlled by splitting a six-inch sub with a friend, ordering a “mini-sub” version, or requesting an open-faced sandwich. Instead of rolls, croissants, or bagels, enjoy flatbread, tortillas, or sliced bread, and choose whole grain options versus white grains to increase your intake of fibre, vitamins, and minerals.

When building your sandwich, make sure you use as many vegetables as you can! Choose from a variety of toppings including cucumber, tomato, lettuce, peppers, sprouts, and onions. Always stick with lean protein options such as turkey, lean ham, roast beef, or chicken. Popular deli slices include corned beef, hot pastrami, and salami; however, these cuts of meat are high in fat and salt. Keep in mind, you can make simple substitutions, like turkey bacon over regular bacon, or roasted versus smoked deli meats when available. Choose carefully when adding cheese also, especially the type. Fresh cheese counts as 1 Dairy serving per 1 oz. (28g), while two slices of processed cheese counts as 1 Dairy. Always choose lower-fat varieties when available, those that contain 20% or less milk fat.

This all sounds pretty simple, but the tricky part is when it comes to condiments. Deli shops have a variety of tasty sauces but most are full of salt and fat. Choose healthier condiments like fat-free mayonnaise, mustard, red wine vinegar, or avocado. For mayonnaise, remember that 2 tsp. of regular mayonnaise equals 1 Fat or 1 tbsp. fat-free mayonnaise equals 1 Extra, and for avocado, 4 tbsp. equals 1 Fat. Finally, although pickles are made with cucumbers, they aren’t counted as a Vegetable; because they are salty, 2 medium pickles counts for 1 Extra serving.

To combo or not to combo is a good question! Sandwich combos often come with a soft drink and your choice of chips or cookies. Opt for water to drink, and choose a side salad or pre-sliced fruit instead of the chips. When ordering a side salad, pick a spring or mixed green salad. Caesar salads, macaroni salad, potato salad, and coleslaws can have hidden fats from mayonnaise, adding numerous calories to your meal.


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