The Healthy Sandwich...How Ironic

April 20, 2011

I cringe writing this post because we all tend to take nutritional recommendations so seriously, probably because I am telling you to change your lifestyle, what you have done for years. And perhaps no American meal stands more recognized than our sandwich, particularly for athletes. Need to gain weight? Have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Pressed for time? Grab a quick panini from the nearby store. I am not saying you should never to eat sandwiches, just to be honest with yourself that there are better choices, much better choices.

Most of the sandwiches sold are a combination of bread, processed meat, some condiments, and hopefully a vegetable or two. Your nutrition should be the pursuit of nutrients, which includes 6 aspects; carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. While bread does provide carbohydrates, these nutrients are not essential to the human diet, as they are relatively low in vitamins and minerals, perhaps why many food manufacturers fortify their breads with minerals and vitamins. A better carbohydrate pursuit are vegetables, which provide some of the highest levels of vitamins and minerals for each calorie, meaning you can get more nutrients before getting full (see Sparta Point 12/1/10).

As for the processed deli meats In a May 2010 study, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have found that eating processed meat, such as bacon, sausage or deli meats, was associated with a 42% higher risk of heart disease and a 19% higher risk of diabetes. The research does not touch on other studies that believe such artificial ingredients play a role in the increasing trend of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism, and a host of other illnesses on the rise. As coaches we see this affect daily, as our athletes respond to technique cues with "huh?", or an inability to focus on just 1 or 2 movement mechanics.

So while you are focusing on ordering no cheese or no mayonnaise to make your sandwich “healthy”, you should just enjoy what you like because the majority of this choice, bread and processed meat, lies just slightly healthier than ice cream and pizza. Recognize your sandwich as a treat to be enjoyed when you truly have no other option, or as a break from a week filled with healthy fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed protein.

Solutions can be to order or prepare a quick salad with meat on top (tuna, chicken, beef, etc.), wrap your chicken break in romaine lettuce instead of bread, or get fajitas to eat just the fillings of peppers, onions, and meat.

And no, wheat or multigrain bread, does not change the above (see SpartaPoint 6/24/09).

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