5 reasons why sandwiches may not be healthy and how to make them healthier
Sandwiches can be really sneaky. Often, they seem like they have all the potential for making a healthy lunch. Afterall, they’re mostly always some combo of veggies and meat, right? And they have the added benefit of being highly portable. But sandwiches sometimes are secret saboteurs of a healthy diet.
Here are 5 reasons sandwiches aren’t always the healthiest and what you can do about it:
• Processed meat and cheese. Most of the time our standard deli sandwiches are loaded with high-sodium and highly processed deli meat making our sandwiches more energy dense but less nutrient dense (i.e. more calories, with less nutritious value). Try finding low sodium deli meat, ideally antibiotic-free as well. Personally, BoarsHead brand seems to have some better options, or Applegate Farms pre packaged turkey breast works well too.
• Questionable condiments. Many of our go-to condiments are full of processed seed oil (like canola or soy bean oils), again adding calorie density without any nutritional upside. Check your ingredient labels when selecting condiments, and try sticking to unsweetened mustards or an avocado oil mayo as good options.
• Non nutritious bread. Generally speaking, too much bread is no bueno. But really this depends on the person’s diet goals, their activities level, and what type of bread we’re talking about. So I tend to think about and break this down into two sub-points — bread or bread alternatives. Bread or not to bread, that is the question:
o Bread. If opting with the traditional, between-two-pieces-of-bread option, try to find a bread full of whole grains and high in fiber (vs. your everyday white bread). The whole grains and fiber may help regulate the glycemic impact of the bread you’re eating. There are also some “carb conscious” wraps that are high in fiber that can be a good substitute for bread on your sandwich as well.
o No Bread. Forgo the bread all together and get the sandwich as a salad or salad wrap. Many restaurants and delis now offer salad wraps as an alternative, using butter lettuce, as the bread or bun.
• Look at your ratios. We take this same approach with our members at re:vitalize weight loss & wellness when talking about the meals on our plates. Fill up most the plates with delicious, life-giving veggies you enjoy, then fill in the rest with your proteins and starches. You can often take the same strategy with your sandwiches. Load it up with lots of veggies first — things like lettuces, tomatoes, various peppers, onions, and avocado — then add some protein and a extras.
• Salad. When you have the option, get a salad. While often more laborious to eat and not as portable as it’s deli counterpart, most salads have all the main players that make sandwiches delicious (protein, veggies, condiments, etc.) in an often healthier set up. (Though salads have their own set up pitfalls that can make them unhealthy too!)
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