Dagwood Delight: Building a Perfect (But Healthy) Sandwich

By Sara Butler

A Healthy Hoagie

The sandwich has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a quick, handheld dinner so an Earl didn’t have to leave his poker game. In fact, the sandwich is so beloved now that it’s got it own month. That’s right -- August is National Sandwich Month. In celebration, we here at The Joint want to talk a little about what’s going into your prized hoagie -- and how you can make it better.

The Sandwich Pickle

First, for a bit of bad news. A study published in the journal Public Health revealed that when people eat a sandwich over the course of the day, they also consumed more fat, sugar, salt, and calories. Sandwiches have been found to provide about one-quarter of a person’s daily calorie intake and about one-third of their fat and sodium intake for the day. That’s a problem -- and it’s easy to see why.

When you cruise into your local drive-thru for your favorite ‘wich, you’re likely not getting something great right out of the gate. That double cheeseburger you love can have more than 1,000 calories on its own -- with plenty of fat and sodium to match. That fried chicken sandwich? It’s probably got an entire day’s worth of sodium and fat. Sandwich-loving Dagwood Bumstead may have been rail thin in the “Blondie” comic strip, but he was never going to stay that way into old age.

As you can see, while sandwiches are a great food on the go, they’re not exactly the healthiest options. But you can change that!

How to Create a Healthy Hero

If you’ve got a soft spot for a good sub, don’t worry -- there’s no reason to cut them out of your diet. You simply need to make sure you keep it healthy. You can do this by:

  • Choosing bread wisely - There are many places where you can order your sandwich with no bun, but if you crave some good carbohydrates with your sandwich, then simply make sure to choose a whole grain bread. Go for oat, rye, or whole wheat to help make those carbs count.
  • Choosing lean protein - What makes a good filling for a sandwich? You can’t go wrong with fish, turkey, or chicken. You can even try a Tofurkey burger or a vegetarian sandwich made with hummus. Just try to avoid the extra fat and sodium by cutting out cold cuts and cheese.
  • Thinking about portions - If you’re in pursuit of a non-fattening sandwich option, you can easily accomplish that by eating just half a sandwich. Learn your portions and aim for no more than 4 ounces of protein (about the size of your palm) when creating your sandwich masterpiece.
  • Adding more vegetables - You can’t go wrong with more vegetables! Add as many as you want to pump up the volume without pumping up the calorie count.
  • Keeping condiments on the side - When it comes to condiments, remember that a little goes a very long way and even low-calorie condiments can be very high in sodium. Keep the creamy condiments off your sandwich and try replacing them with healthy fats, such as avocado or hummus.

Creating a healthy sandwich isn’t rocket science. You can cut out your bad sandwich habits at the same time you cut out those cold cuts. Just experiment to find a combination you love and have fun while you’re doing it!

Happy National Sandwich Month!

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