Fresh and Healthy Choices at This Favorite Road Trip Pit Stop
Eating while on the road or in a rush can put a real damper on even the best-laid healthy-diet plans. So when you opt for a quick meal, it’s good to have a strategy worked out. Did you know that Subway has more restaurants in the United States than any other food chain? That makes it an easy go-to option for grabbing a quick bite, but how do you balance convenience with good nutrition? We asked several dietitians what they order when they go to Subway, and the general themes were very similar — chicken and turkey reign supreme, watch the sodium, and pile on those veggies!
Grab Some Turkey
When it comes to sandwiches, the first thing you’ll usually choose is the meat, and turkey can make a healthy start to a delicious sub. “My go-to Subway sandwich is a 6-inch turkey sub on nine-grain wheat bread with 1 slice of cheese, toasted,” says Robyn Plotkin, a culinary nutrition consultant in Dallas. “I ask them to pile on the veggies, including spinach, extra tomato, cucumber, and pickle. With a little mustard as the spread, it’s a fiber-rich, protein-packed, filling sandwich.” Both the protein from the turkey and the fiber from the whole-wheat bread and extra veggies will help you to feel full and satisfied longer than other options.
Why does Plotkin specify just 1 slice of cheese? Cheese can make a tasty addition to any sandwich, but when it comes to overall healthfulness, it’s not top on the list. Cheese is naturally high in calories, fat, and sodium. For example, 1 slice of pepper jack cheese at Subway adds 50 calories, 4 grams (g) of fat, and 140 milligrams (mg) of sodium. That's not bad if you add only 1 slice, but it could add up quickly.
Or Go for Chicken
For those watching the sodium in their foods, chicken could be the perfect sandwich choice. Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies, says, “My favorite meal to order (and recommend) at Subway is the rotisserie-style chicken 6-inch sub with extra veggies, including lettuce, tomato, red onion, and banana peppers. With just 350 calories, this sandwich packs in 5 g of fiber and 29 g of protein, to help you stay full for hours. And with 540 mg of sodium, it's also one of the lower-sodium options. Adding the extra veggies is a great way to get more fiber and antioxidants into your meal.” Just remember to keep an eye on the toppings you choose, as some of those are high in sodium, too — think bacon, sauces, and dressings.
Choose Your Toppings Wisely
If a turkey or chicken sub sounds a little boring, don’t forget about the healthy and flavorful topping options. Robyn Coale, NP, RD, of Nutshell Nutrition in New York City, says, "My go-to meal at Subway is roasted turkey on nine-grain wheat, topped with all the veggies and avocado with spicy mustard — it's satisfying and satiating.” Avocado is a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and spicy mustard adds a kick of flavor for only 5 calories. “If I'm craving something sweet, I'll get a cookie and mindfully eat however much of it is most satisfying. Sometimes that's just a bite and sometimes the whole thing."
Load on the Spinach
Rachael Hartley, RD, CDE, nutrition coach at Avocado A Day Nutrition in Columbia, South Carolina, recommends adding spinach and guacamole to pump up the flavor — and the healthy fats. “Whenever I'm on a road trip, Subway is a convenient option for lunch or a snack. I love to get their oven-roasted chicken breast, piled high with lots of veggies. I always ask for spinach instead of lettuce, as it has more iron and potassium, as well as a scoop of guacamole for healthy and filling fats.”
Plus All Other Veggies
When asked what she orders at Subway, Jill Weisenberger, RDN, CDE, health and wellness coach and author of The Overworked Person’s Guide to Better Nutrition, says, “I’m known to say, ‘please fit it with so many vegetables that you think it’s a salad.’ I’ll usually pick something like turkey and cheese, with as many vegetables as they’ll let me have.”
Remember that you get to personalize your sub to your liking, so don’t be afraid to ask for your veggies piled high in order to increase the amount of fiber and valuable vitamins and minerals you’re getting. “I’ll also order unsweetened iced tea to drink because tea is full of health-boosting flavonoids,” adds Weisenberger.
Or Skip the Sub Altogether
Not in the mood for a sub? Not a problem! All of your favorite subs are available as salads, too — making them a more veggie-packed and lower-carb option. “I would pick the oven-roasted chicken salad from Subway. It has a tad more calories and fat than the turkey breast salad, but it comes with more protein — 19 g vs. 12 g — which will help satisfy my hunger for longer,” says Jennifer Stinson, RD, a consultant for Everyday Health and Anderson Nutrition who is based in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. “It also has much less sodium — 290 mg vs. 560 mg in the turkey breast salad — making it a better nutritional choice.”
- Last Updated: 06/16/17
- Last Updated: 06/16/17