Sandwich shops can certainly carry the reputation of serving up a balanced meal—after all, sandwiches are a great vehicle for lean meats and loads of veggies—but there are some less-than-healthy foods and menu options you should be cognizant of next time you order. Some options feel obvious, but we got the scoop from experts on exactly which orders you’ll want to be mindful of next time you are in the mood for a sub—and some might surprise you.
Sandwich shops are certainly a convenient option when you’re in a hurry, and never eating a sandwich again would not be a realistic recommendation, so we are bringing you expert advice about common, unhealthy pitfalls most people make at sandwich shops.
We considered menu items that are high in sodium, calories, added oils, and sugars so that you can make the best choice for your health. Our experts offer recommendations about what you might choose instead so that you can have an alternative healthy choice. Keep reading to find out exactly which menu items you may want to pass on next time you are ordering from a sandwich shop, and for more, don’t miss The Best & Worst Menu Items at McDonald’s, According to RDs.
“Sandwiches from sandwich shops tend to be carbohydrate heavy and low in protein, especially when paired with traditional sides like chips. I encourage clients to double the protein on their sandwich and add ample veggies for satiety,” shares Jennifer Fiske, MS, RDN, LD.
Adding a soda, chips, and a cookie can add up really fast. Consider sticking with your sandwich alone and choosing your sides wisely for a healthier lunch option.
“I recommend staying away from the ‘Meal Deals’ in the sandwich shops even though they might sound like they offer the best deal for your money. Meal add-ons are often packets of chips or cookies along with a calorie-laden drink. Sandwiches by themselves are fairly large portion size already. Consider adding extra veggies or avocado on your sandwich to keep you more full,” Moushumi Mukherjee, MS, RDN, aka Dietitian Moushumi, tells us.
If you are watching your heart health or blood pressure, you might consider passing on the deli meats. “Deli meats, like ham and salami, are very high in sodium. Whenever possible, opt for less processed meats such as grilled chicken. Better yet, load up on healthy vegetable toppings to reduce your overall salt intake even more,” explains Ashley Petrie, RDN, LDN of Everyday Homemade.
RELATED: 7 Deli Meat Brands Made With the Lowest Quality Ingredients
“At a sandwich shop, cream-based soups such as broccoli cheese or cheesy potato tend to be higher in calories and saturated fat than broth-based soups. Consider choosing chicken noodle, minestrone, or beef vegetable soup for healthier options with your sandwich,” recommends Mandy Tyler, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD.
In addition to being deep fried, this order is going to rack up some serious sodium and extra calories. “Fried chicken cutlets can add a lot of sodium to your sandwich. When possible try to find low-sodium meats or grilled chicken cutlets. Instead, try a tossed green salad loaded with extra veggies to help increase your fiber intake, keeping you full and satisfied,” notes Kimberley Wiemann, MS, RDN, a Long Island, NY-based registered dietitian.
Melanie Marcus, RD is a culinary dietitian from the greater Charlotte, NC area who offers another alternative creation: “Create a lighter version of the classic sandwich by opting for grilled chicken breast instead of fried. Top it off with one slice of bacon for flavor and a variety of vegetables with your dressing on the side so you can control the amount consumed.”
One of the worst things to order at a sandwich shop would be ordering double meat and cheese. Both these items lend to higher sodium and fat content, as well as extra calories. Instead, opt for a variety of lean protein and lower fat cheese like turkey and provolone,” offers Jessie Carpenter, RD a registered dietitian and owner of Nutrition Prescription.
Melissa Boufounos, CHN, a sports nutritionist and owner of MB Performance Nutrition shares her take: “Calories can add up quickly when you start adding toppings. Condiments like mustard or hot sauce have significantly [fewer] calories and fat than creamy, mayonnaise-based sauces. I also recommend loading your sandwich with veggies for more nutrients and fiber to help keep you feeling full for longer.”