It’s lunchtime, and you’re hungry! But before you place your order, Leigha Messner, a dietitian with Lee Health says it’s important to plan ahead. “You want at least half the portion to be fruits or vegetables, and then you’re going to have a quarter be the protein and then another quarter be the grain.”
It’s also important to note that a meal should be between 300 and 500 calories, a number that can add up fast if you’re adding too much cheese, bread, and condiments. “Steer clear from the American cheese, which is more processed, and head more towards the provolone, the Swiss, which are just more natural based chesses and lower in fat and sodium in general,” said Messner.
Cutting back on the bread can also help lower the calorie intake and increase the nutrition. Instead of a sandwich, consider a wrap, salad, or flatbread. “You can actually scoop out the insides of the bread, so you still have the vessel to be able to pile everything on, but you’re not consuming all those additional calories you might not need,” said Messner.
When it comes to picking your protein, aim for a leaner meat like tuna, turkey or even hummus. “The key with the vegetables, if you're looking at a sandwich shop or a salad, is be mindful of the pickled vegetables which are going to be higher in sodium,” said Messner.
The other thing to be mindful of are condiments, which can add a lot of calories and sodium. “Oil and vinegar, herbs, maybe go towards more of your mustards than the mayonnaise and choose a light base instead,” said Messner.
While your meal is now healthy, use caution when it comes to choosing your side. “Stay away from the regular chips, maybe going towards more baked chips or more heart-healthy fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Messner.
Replacing your sugary drink with water or unsweet tea, eating slowly, and paying attention to your full cues will help you stay nourished and healthy.
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Lee Health in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of health care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For more than 100 years, we’ve been providing our community with personalized preventative health services and primary care to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Lee Health - Caring People. Inspiring Care.