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Healthy eating and exercise for life

What to Eat When You’re Eating at the Deli

Sometimes there’s just not enough time to prepare your own lunch before leaving for work in the morning. Or maybe you’re too tired to prepare an entire dinner after a long and busy day. In order to grab a quick lunch or an easy dinner while staying true to your healthy goals, you head to the deli down the street. Sandwiches, soups and salads are healthy, right? There’s hardly anything fried offered on deli menus and the food is usually fresh.

Delis do offer many nourishing and “good for you” foods, but you must be careful! Just because it’s on a deli menu doesn’t mean it’s low fat or low-calorie. There are just as many high calorie choices at a sandwich shop as other restaurants. The key is to know what to look out for so you’ll be able to find a quick and nutritional meal at your favorite deli.

Any Sandwich is Fine, Right?
Delis offer a large variety of sandwiches and subs – hot ones, cold ones, long ones and short ones. Many people believe that because the sandwiches are not fried, most will fit within their calorie goals. But not all sandwiches are created equal. And remember, eating a large portion of anything will tack on extra calories to your daily total. Check out the calorie differences in the sandwiches below:

6” Veggie, turkey or ham sub 230-280 calories
6” Tuna sub 430 calories
6” Meatball sub 500 calories
12” Club sub w/ bologna, ham and salami 820 calories
Low-carb sandwich 430-480 calories
Philly chicken wrap 550 calories
Large roast beef sandwich 620 calories

What to order:

When counting calories, small sandwiches or 6” subs with lean or grilled meat such as turkey are good choices. Vegetarian options are usually low in calories as well (just watch the cheese). If you choose meat, find a sandwich with a modest portion size and avoid ones offering multiple types of meat on one sandwich. Adding mustard instead of mayonnaise can help reduce calories. Also, ask to have any dressings or special sauces on the side. And remember, low-carb does not mean low-calorie.

Sides and Salads
Delis offer many side item options. Just be careful selecting the one for your meal. Salads are a good option for sides, or as a meal substitute. However, green and leafy does not automatically mean low-calorie or low fat, so choose wisely.

Fat-free chips (small bag) 75 calories
Baked potato chips (small bag) 110 calories
Regular potato chips (small bag) 150 calories
Fruit salad (5 oz) 86 calories
Cole Slaw (5 oz) 188 calories
Potato salad (5 oz) 288 calories
Garden side salad (no dressing) 60 calories
Grilled chicken salad (no dressing) 170 calories
Club style salad 390 calories
Fried chicken salad; Caesar salad 400-460 calories

What to order:

Fruit and side salads are terrific options. They are low in calories and offer a variety of vitamins and antioxidants. When choosing chips, go for baked or fat free varieties for less calories and fat. If you opt for larger salads as meals, a grilled chicken salad with the dressing on the side is a good choice.

Sauces, Dressings and “Fixings”
Sauces, dressings and “fixings” can spell “trouble” when it comes to calories. See how these add-ons stack up:

Mustard (1T) 7.5 calories
Light mayo (1T) 50 calories
Regular mayo (1T) 110 calories
Low-cal French dressing (1 T) 22 calories
Low-cal Italian dressing (1 T) 18 calories
Ranch dressing (1.5 oz) 150 calories

What to order:

Remember that leaving sauces on the side is your best bet to avoid unwanted calories. If you need something extra for the salad, opt for low-calorie or low-fat dressings and sauces. If light mayo isn’t available, ask for mustard instead. Adding vegetables will boost the health value of a sandwich, while adding very few calories.

Dessert is an option almost anywhere. Although it’s not necessary, here are some ways to order “light.”

Chocolate chip cookie (medium to large) 210-410 calories
Apple pie (slice) 245 calories
Sorbet (1/2 cup) 100 calories
Fat-free frozen yogurt (1/2 cup) 110 calories

What to order:

Sorbet and fat free frozen yogurt are usually good choices, as long as you watch your portion sizes. If available, opt for fat-free and sugar-free frozen yogurt for even less calories (about 80 calories per 1/2 cup serving).

Here’s one example of how you can make your trip to the deli not only quick and tasty, but healthier too:

Lighter Version Full Calorie Version
6” turkey sub w/ veggies & mustard 290 calories 12” club sub w/ mayo 930 calories
Garden side salad w/ vinaigrette dressing 80 calories potato chips 150 calories
½ cup sorbet 100 calories chocolate chip cookie 210 calories
Total: 470 calories Total: 1290 calories

By making smarter selections at your local deli, you can continue to meet your calorie goals without sacrificing taste.