4 Sandwich Shop Secrets That Could Undermine Your Healthy Office Lunch

Posted by on Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 with 0 Comments

Between the infamous Subway Jared, Panera Bread’s not-so-secret “power menu”, and advertisements practically glistening with fresh vegetables, lean turkey, and whole wheat bread, it seems like your average sandwich shop is an easy place to grab a healthy lunch. And it should be — but, as with any restaurant, there are some land mines that people should watch out for.

chicken salad sandwich

It’s easy to eat healthy at a deli… right?
Image source: Flickr user stevendepolo

After all, eating a healthy lunch isn’t just about watching your waistline. The food you consume on your lunch break — especially if, like many American office workers, you eat at your desk — can dictate how you’ll feel the rest of the day. Will your energy levels crash around 3 pm, or will you feel focused and have a productive afternoon? A lot of that depends on whether you eat a healthy office lunch!


It seems like common sense should be sufficient to order a healthy lunch at a sandwich shop. As long as you choose a non-cheesy bread, stick to lean meats, pile on fresh vegetables, and avoid creamy sauces, you’re in good shape, right?

office worker in food coma

Don’t let your sandwich put you to sleep!
Image source: Flickr user star5112

Not exactly. Many ostensibly “healthy” takeout spots manage to sneak plenty of fat, salt, and sugar into menu items that a conscientious diner might not expect. Here are four sandwich shop land mines to look out for, both at the big chains, and at your local mom & pop shop: When it comes to bread, the lowest-calorie slice is rarely the winning choice.  Take Panera Bread’s bread, for example: their lowest-cal option is their basic white bread, with only 170 calories per serving. But, the white bread only offers one measly gram of fiber – meaning you won’t feel full for very long, and may find yourself grabbing an unhealthy treat from a vending machine a few hours later. However, if you’d chosen the 330-calorie whole grain miche, you’d have consumed 8 grams of fiber – along with 14 grams of protein.

Subway sandwich

It looks healthy, but the condiments can make or break a sandwich.
Image source: Flickr user inazakira

Beware the fat-free condiments. Not all fat is bad for you, but added sugar is rarely good! Take Subway’s dressing selection as a cautionary tale: their sweet onion dressing and honey mustard may be fat-free, but they clock in at 8 and 6 grams of sugar, respectively. That’s likely to cause a spike (and subsequent crash) of your blood sugar. By contrast, a few splashes of the naturally sugar-free oil and vinegar might add 5 grams of fat – but it will mainly be the healthy, monounsaturated fats that make olive oil a staple of the Mediterranean diet. If a meat is smoked, watch out for salt. Common sense says go for lean meats, like turkey over bacon, and chicken over steak: but when it comes to sodium, that wisdom doesn’t hold true. At Panera, their selection of “smoked” meats can contain nearly four times as much salt as the rest. That smoked turkey breast packs in 1040mg of sodium, while the steak only has 210 – and our daily recommended intake is around 1500mg. Depending on your dietary concerns, conventional wisdom might be wrong on this one. Salad does not equal healthy. Simply choosing a salad doesn’t mean your meal is automatically healthy. At the McAllister’s Deli chain, a grilled chicken Caesar salad clocks in with 67 grams of fat – more than most people should eat in an entire day. Panera’s chicken cobb with avocado isn’t much better, with 48 grams of fat. And, while few of us would expect Subway’s very unhealthy-sounding “steak and bacon melt salad” would be a diet-friendly choice, diners might be surprised to find that their spicy tuna salad is just as bad (5 grams of saturated fat in both). Sticking to vinaigrettes is usually a good idea when it comes to restaurant salads, but better yet, do a little homework online beforehand to make sure your salad actually constitutes a healthy office lunch.

salad in takeout container

Not all salads are created equal – or healthy. Is yours?
Image source: Flickr user bradleypjohnson

For a healthy, wholesome lunch that’s not secretly stuffed with saturated fat, added sugar, or copious amounts of salt, consider these guidelines the next time you order in from the sandwich shop! Luckily, the ordering process itself will be a no-brainer when you use Waiter.com – with online ordering and prompt delivery, at least you won’t have to worry about how your newly nutritious lunch will arrive at the office.

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — Waiter.com is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & deliveryWaiter.com offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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