How to Buy the Healthiest Food at Your Local Deli Counter

Make sure you’re buying the best cold cuts, sandwiches, and salads on your next trip to the deli.

When you’re buying ready-to-eat meals and ingredients at the deli counter, it’s important to pay attention to three main areas: food labels, food handlers, and the deli counter environment. Keep these tips in mind to ensure you’re getting the safest food for you and your family.

Start With the Second Slice

Ordering cold cuts? Get the freshest slices and ask the butcher or counter attendant to save the first slice for their pre-made sandwiches and foods or ask to taste-test the first slice instead.

Order Fresh Not Pre-Made Sandwiches

Many delicatessens and grocery stores make their sandwiches in the morning. That means when you arrive at the deli counter in the evening, that roast beef sandwich might have been sitting in the refrigerator all day long. Ask for your sandwich to be made fresh in front of you and you’ll be able to control what goes into your order.

Make Sure Assistants Wear Clean Gloves

Aim to shop at clean and organized supermarkets, groceries, or delis. At the deli counter, look for the ServSafe logo which shows that the establishment hires ServSafe-certified food handlers. Make sure sales clerks wear clean gloves while slicing, weighing, preparing, or wrapping your food and wipe and sanitize slicing equipment and counters.

Scoop Prepared Foods From the Bottom

The food at the bottom of the salad or serving bowl will be fresher, more chilled, and less likely to come into contact with dirty hands and surfaces. If it’s a hot dish, the food at the bottom will be warmer as well.

Print out this one-page guide and keep it on your kitchen refrigerator or next to your grocery shopping list so you can reference it before your next supermarket trip.

Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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