What Not to Put on Your Sandwich

making a sandwich
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Sandwiches can be completely nutritious, and they’re especially great when you don't have a lot of time to prepare a meal. The problem? Sneaky add-ons! Some of them are deceptively high in calories. Read on to discover six things to leave off your sandwich.


It’s not exactly a secret that mayo isn’t a great choice, but the actual amount of fat and calories in it may surprise you. One tablespoon of the full-fat variety—which is what most restaurants and fast-food places use on their sandwiches and burgers—has around 100 calories and 10 grams of fat. And that's just one tablespoon!

Go for mustard and/or ketchup instead of mayonnaise—they’re much more reasonable in the stats department, and they add a lot of flavor.

Special Sauces

If you read the word “special sauce” on a menu, run away. Or at least run towards the next item on the menu. Sauces concocted by restaurants and fast-food places generally pack a lot of calories and fat. Try to stay away from aiolis, pestos, honey mustards. If it sounds creamy and rich, it’s probably a calorie fest. Instead, go with the old mustard standby, or zazzle up your sandwich with fresh herbs and spices.

Cheese (Sometimes)

When it comes to sandwiches, cheese can be overkill. If you fill up your meal with lean protein and veggies, cheese is an unnecessary extra. One slice of regular cheddar cheese has more than 100 calories… not worth it!

The good news: There are occasions when cheese is a perfectly reasonable topping. If you need extra protein on a sandwich, a slice of reduced-fat Swiss cheese is a smart choice—you’ll get around 7 grams of protein for just about 65 calories. 

Oil-Laden Vegetables

Veggies: naturally low in calories. Veggies smothered in oil: calorie bombs. On menus, watch out for words like “marinated” and “sautéed,” especially when it comes to vegetables served as meat replacements like eggplant, zucchini, and mushrooms. Those words tend to mean that the vegetable has been soaked in oil. Keep in mind that you can always ask your server how something is made before you order it.

When you’re ordering or making a sandwich, stick to raw veggies or ones that have been roasted with just a bit of oil.

Bonus: Dressing for Your Side Salad

If you're getting a side salad with your sandwich, I'm not saying you should skip salad dressing altogether, but you should leave it off your salad and get it on the side. Restaurants often add several hundred calories' worth of dressing to their salads! Have some on the side, and dip your fork into it—don't pour it over your greens.

Pay close attention to the type of dressing. Most of us know to avoid creamy picks like ranch, Caesar, and blue cheese. But vinaigrettes and other light-sounding dressings can be calorie and fat bombs, too. For at-home salads, always read dressing labels and stick with one to two servings. At restaurants, look for words like “reduced-fat” and “light.” Better yet, check for nutritional info on the restaurant’s website.

And don’t be afraid to think outside the box—condiments like salsa and lemon juice make great salad dressing substitutes.

Is all this talk of dressing making you hungry for a salad? Try packing a salad in a jar for a delicious on-the-go lunch! 

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