Showtime at the sandwich bar

Barbara Wilson

It all started so innocently. My intentions were good. But then again, they always are. I meant to ask for roast turkey salad in a wholegrain roll, hold the butter and easy on the low-fat mayo. But what did I actually ask for? Cheesey coleslaw in a ciabatta roll. Oh, and I’ll take a slice of that carrot cake, too, please.

That’s almost as good as yesterday’s salami sub and egg mayonnaise sandwiches all last week. Will I never learn? My will power just goes out the window as soon as I reach the deli counter and I could kick myself by the time I get back to work, but then I go and do it all over again the next day. It’s all very well to go in with the best will in the world but it’s just too easy for that to go, dare I say it, pear shaped.

Does this sound familiar? Do you feel like all those olive breads and mayonnaise-laden fillings are there to torture you? To remind you what you can’t have?

We believe that no food is a bad food. It’s all about moderation. But moderation does not involve having full fat soft cheese and salami 5 days a week. I’m sorry but that just doesn’t cut the mustard. Whether you pick up a pre-packed sarnie in the supermarket or prefer something made to order in Prêt à Manger, there is a healthy choice.

If your willpower takes a dive when faced with egg mayo, maybe I can give you a little bit of an incentive to avoid those tempting treats by counting up the calorific cost of a trip to the sandwich counter.

Let’s add up the good and the not-so-good options. Start with a length of baguette, maybe a third of a loaf. There’s 320 calories and 3g of fat to begin with. Add a layer of butter or margarine – another 100 calories and around 16g of fat. So before you even add the filling, there’s 420 calories and 19g of fat.

If you like mayo on your sandwich, add another 215 calories and 24g fat to your total. As for filling, where will I start? A few slices of salami? 100 calories and 9g of fat. How about that old favourite, egg mayonnaise? Nearly 200 calories and over 17g of fat per serving.

Or maybe some cheddar cheese? 185 calories and 16g of fat in a 45g serving. Even the same amount of reduced fat cheddar cheese will provide you with an unbelievable 120 calories and 7g of fat. Add a helping of coleslaw and there’s another 120 calories and 12g of fat. Or if you fancy a serving of paté, add 130 calories and 12g of fat to your total.

As I said earlier, the key to healthy eating is moderation. It’s so easy to say ‘just this once’ but the more often you indulge, the greater the overall impact on your healthy eating plans. Having even 2 of these sandwiches a week, say, an egg mayo one day and a cheesey coleslaw another day, will add a massive 1445 calories and 81g of fat to your weekly total.

Having a salami roll with mayo another day of the week, for example, will boost this weekly intake to 2180 calories and 133g of fat. That’s an awful lot of calories and grams of fat to obtain from only 3 sandwiches.

So what’s the alternative?

The alternatives are many and varied. Tasty, filling and won’t leave you feeling guilty for the rest of the day.

This time we’ll start with a couple of slices of wholegrain bread: 155 calories and 2g of fat. The high fibre content of this bread will help fill you up, keep you feeling fuller for longer and is a lot more interesting to eat than a doughy, tasteless baguette.

Skip the butter and mayo, pile on the salad and go for the healthy option: roast chicken, ham, beef or turkey (up to 60 calories and 1.8g of fat per serving), pastrami (55 calories and 1.9g of fat), prawns or tuna (around 45 calories and up to 0.7g of fat per serving), low fat cottage cheese (39 calories and 0.7g fat per serving) or even a little Brie (96 calories and 8.1g fat per serving).

Three of these sandwiches per week will add up to around 610 calories and 9.2g of fat. Compare that to the high cal choices and over three days you can save yourself a massive 1571 calories and 123g of fat. To put that into perspective, that’s around a whole day’s calorie intake and three times the daily fat intake for an average woman. Or to put it another way, it would take 170 minutes of swimming, 280 minutes of cycling or 350 minutes to walk off those extra calories. I’m exhausted just thinking about it!

So you can see that by simply making the smart choice at the sandwich counter you can make a huge difference to your weekly calorie intake. Next time you think ‘just this once’, think instead of the number of lengths of the pool you’ll need to swim to burn off those extra calories. I know what I’d rather do - hold the mayo!

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