Nearly anything can be slid between two slices of bread and labeled a sandwich, but the sandwiches we dream up may not always be the healthiest.
Making a “healthy” sandwich doesn’t mean you have to be restrictive or be forced to eat cardboard. We’re not trying to knock bread, meat, sauces, or even fats (a little bacon is A-OK in my book).
You can still use mayonnaise, and you can still pile on the meat, but making an effort to choose better ingredients — and using them in moderation — will help you feel good after your meal.
There is no “one size fits all” diet regimen. Some people can process fats better than others, while for some, even looking at a slice bread will add on a few pounds. All bodies and digestive systems work differently, and you should choose a diet that tailors to your individual needs and sensitivities.
Nevertheless, here are a few awesome, easy, and general tips for making a healthier sandwich.
Even if you don’t have celiac disease, bread can sometimes annoy your digestive system. But don’t you worry just yet. The simple fix is to choose better bread.
Bread made with natural yeast (think sourdough) has fermentation cultures that help our bodies digest gluten. Naturally leavened bread is also significantly more flavorful than commercial bread and will also help you to feel satiated after eating less of it.
Clinical studies have demonstrated that fiber intake is inversely related to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. When we eat foods high in fiber, it helps us feel fuller faster and longer. Plus, fiber is also linked to lowering cholesterol levels.
Whole wheat and multi-grain bread, beans, chia seeds, and chickpeas are all high in fiber. Try using beans or hummus as a spread for moisture, or even sprinkle chia seeds on your PB&J like this recipe for Healthy Seeds Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich suggests.
“Good fats,” monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, are found in plant-based foods and oils (think Mediterranean diet). These fats can help improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficial for heart health.
Nut butters, avocado, salmon, and olive oil are all excellent sources of good fat.
Consuming protein will fill you up faster and help you avoid overeating. Protein is critical for proper body function, and a protein deficiency can slow the metabolism, make it harder to lose weight, and make us feel slow and fatigued.
Turkey, chicken, ham, beef, eggs, and legumes are all great sources of protein. Just remember that better, tastier meat comes from well-fed, happy animals.
This one’s a no-brainer: Don’t skimp on these plant-based goodies full of nutrients that make our bodies work properly. Try this delicious Portobello Mushroom and Goat Cheese sandwich recipe that uses grilled mushrooms, spinach, and roasted red peppers.
Calorie conscious? It may be difficult to give up bread if you don’t have an allergy. If this is the case, try making an open-faced sandwich, also called a tartine. It’s French, it’s fancy, and it’ll satisfy the body’s desire for carbohydrates without overdoing it. Try it here with this simple recipe for Grilled Summer Squash and Brie Sandwiches.
Making your own sandwich means that you have control over the portion size and quality of the ingredients. You can even make your own mayonnaise, allowing you to avoid refined oils, preservatives, and sugar. Get inspiration from these 10 Healthy Homemade Mayonnaise Recipes.