Your corner deli is a magical place. It’s packed with tons of delicious foods that are always guaranteed to hit the spot. Every day at lunchtime, you can look forward to heading to your favorite gourmet deli long island for your usual sandwich or salad to tide you over until dinner. However, if you find yourself always gorging on the same unhealthy carb-filled meals or grabbing a bag of chips with your lunch, you’re going to have a problem. Luckily, it’s not hard to find healthy food options at your corner deli even though you may feel surrounded by temptation. Eating healthier doesn’t mean depriving yourself of the foods you love: It means training yourself to make smarter choices and listening to your body to know what it needs. If you’re concerned with finding some healthier lunchtime habits, you don’t have to give up your beloved corner deli to start eating smarter. Here are a few ways you can start to eat healthier at the deli counter today.
Get Creative with Salads
You might have a few misconceptions about salads when it comes to healthy eating. Advertised as boring, traditional, and plain, salads have gotten a seriously bad rap in recent years. The truth is, salads come in all shapes, sizes, flavors, and colors. The beauty of a salad is that you can put anything on it, as long as you have a base of healthy greens and don’t overdo it on the dressing. There’s no reason you can’t create a salad that’s perfect for your palate at your favorite deli counter. Not feeling over-enthused about vegetables? Try adding a few slices of grilled chicken or tofu on top. Feeling like you need something with a bit more substance to get you through the day? Add vegetarian sides like quinoa salad, faro, or raw brussel sprouts and almonds shaving to your plate to create a rich, filling meal that will keep you satisfied for hours. Don’t assume that just because you’re saying no to your usual sandwich means you have to confine yourself to bland, boring greens with no seasoning. Sprinkle some fresh herbs or a twist of lemon on top, and you’ll have an instant array of flavor.
Say No to Mayo
When trying to opt for a sandwich-less meal at the deli counter, it can be difficult to find anything that isn’t packed with mayo. From chicken salad to tuna to pasta salad offerings, it can be difficult to escape the temptation of a traditional deli “salad” that’s slathered with mayo and other condiments. However, it’s totally possible to skip mayo entirely when you’re at the deli. Try asking your deli counter helper how much mayo is in each dish, and whether or not it’s possible to get something mixed without mayo. If it’s not, go for a grilled chicken breast or a side of plain albacore on the side. It will help you get in a good amount of protein without exposing you to a ton of unhealthy fat. You should also always choose salad dressings that aren’t mayo-based. If anything looks overly oily, skip it and go with a squeeze of lime, pepper, and salt instead.
Skip Those Chips
When you’re getting lunch at the deli, it’s easy to unthinkingly grab a bag of chips or a soda to go with your meal. However, being conscious of this habit can help you regain control over your eating patterns, stop “unthinking” eating, and decrease your risk of high cholesterol and diabetes in one fell swoop. Instead of reaching for the chips, try getting a packet of nuts, preferably raw almonds or cashews for the high “good fat” content, or a packet of sunflower seeds to munch on instead. Just be careful of the salt content in packets of pre-mixed salted nuts. If in doubt, stick with the unsalted option.
Choose Whole Grains
Being on a diet doesn’t mean you have to say no to carbs. All you have to do is make better choices when it comes to your sandwiches. Going for a whole grain bread or a healthy side like steamed brown rice can help keep your heart healthy and make you feel fuller throughout the day without getting that midday energy crash. Try experimenting with different grains, such as quinoa, rice pilaf, or wheat berries. Take the opportunity to try things you might never have tried in the past. Don’t frame your diet as a punishment or a problem. Think about it as a chance to expose yourself to new, exciting flavors you might have ordinarily passed up.