Which Sandwiches & Fillings Can I Eat When Pregnant?

It’s a real challenge to figure out whether you can eat just a sandwich while pregnant, with all the things you have to be careful of. You’ve got to avoid cold or undercooked food, deli meat, raw egg mayonnaise, etc.

You’re also supposed to eat nutrient-dense food during pregnancy instead of junk, which sounds easier than it is.

What sandwich fillings can you eat during pregnancy? There are many sandwich fillings suitable for pregnant women. You can still enjoy a tasty and exciting lunch or snack without having to sacrifice your pregnancy. You can tell by following a few simple guidelines on which sandwich fillings to avoid or eat during pregnancy.

I have investigated many sandwich fillings to determine their composition to assist pregnant women in choosing what to put into a sandwich. I have tried to explain which ingredients are safe during pregnancy and what you can substitute or switch.

What sandwich bread to choose during pregnancy?

Pregnant women can eat all sandwich bread, however, you should make more informed choices when selecting bread. You can, for example:

  • Choose brown or wholegrain over white bread
  • Instead of bulky bagels or subs, choose flatbreads or wraps.
  • Avoid sweet bread such as brioche
  • Butter, mayonnaise and dairy spreads are high in fat and calories.

Which Sandwiches & Fillings Can I Eat When Pregnant?

What are the most common sandwich fillings?

Here is a list of popular sandwich fillings, and if they are safe during pregnancy.

Tuna sandwiches

The consumption of tuna in sandwiches is safe during pregnancy. However, pregnant women should limit their tuna intake due to the mercury content. Limit your tuna consumption to two portions per week. You can eat up to four servings of tuna canned per week in the UK.

Read more about it in our article on tuna and pregnancy.

Tuna Mayo Sandwiches can be eaten during pregnancy, if the mayo has been pasteurized. This is true for most commercial mayonnaise. 

Deli Meat or ‘Sandwich Meat’ Sandwiches

To be considered safe during pregnancy, the deli meat must be heated to a steaming temperature.

It’s up to you which deli meats you’d like to eat when it’s hot. Hot deli meat can be eaten in a toasted or grilled sandwich.

Some sandwiches, such as a Reuben that contain deli meat, are served hot. However, make sure that the meat and the dressing are hot, along with the sauerkraut.

Ham or bacon sandwiches

As a sandwich component, ham and bacon should be cooked or heated to a smoky temperature. The UK (but not USA) considers supermarket-bought packet ham to be safe to consume without first heating it.

Sandwiches with turkey and chicken

If the meat is cooked and sliced at home, it’s safe to eat during pregnancy. It’s fine to eat cold cooked meat if you store it properly in the refrigerator and eat it within two days.

If the meat comes from a deli and not from home, it will need to be heated to make it safe.

It is safer to prepare the sandwich yourself. (See below for notes on ordering sandwiches at Delis and restaurants). In the UK, you can eat sandwich meats (of any type) cold, while in the USA, it is recommended that the meat be heated through.

Sandwiches with roasted beef and other meats

The meat should be completely cooked through, with no pink in the middle. You will need to cook the roast beef at home if you are buying it from a restaurant that sells it cooked and cold.

In the UK, pre-packaged slices are considered safe, whereas, in other countries like the USA, pregnant women are advised to avoid them. Pre-packaged slices are safe in the UK. However, they are not recommended for pregnant women in the USA (source: FDA).

Here is a special article on roast meat during pregnancy.

Seafood Sandwiches (including prawns and shrimp)

Popular seafood sandwiches (e.g. prawn Mayonnaise sandwiches and other cold, cooked fish can be eaten during pregnancy, provided they are cooked, stored, refrigerated correctly, and consumed within a few days of being cooked.

Cold-cooked prawns combined with commercial pasteurized mayonnaise in a sandwich are safe to consume during pregnancy.

Smoked Salmon may not be safe during pregnancy and should therefore be avoided. This other article that I wrote about smoked Salmon and pregnancy might be of interest to you. It’s safe in the UK. 

Sandwiches with meat or fish spread

Avoid all types of fish pastes, meat spreads and pates during pregnancy because of the increased risk of Listeria contamination. It includes any spread, paste or pate that is found in the refrigerator section of a grocery store, such as:

  • Potted meat, or potted beef
  • Fillings such as ham hock or pulled Pork are available in the pre-prepared form.
  • Rillettes
  • Fish pate (e.g. mackerel, salmon, crab)

If the meat comes in a can or jar it is likely pasteurized, and therefore safe to consume. Check the label, as the meat may only be sterilized.

Sandwiches with Vegetables and Salad

This is because the vegetables are prepared, peeled, and thoroughly washed. It is important to wash all vegetables, salads and fruit thoroughly before eating them.

Avoid ordering salad-based sandwiches from a deli, or other similar establishments. Listeria and cross-contamination are possible.

Choose a sandwich you can heat up if you want salad on it. onions and tomatoes are better than lettuce.

Avoid pre-bagged salads and vegetables when preparing sandwiches at home. They are a risk for listeria contamination. Roasting vegetables is a great alternative. They are both safe for pregnancy and delicious.

Mayonnaise based sandwiches

Sandwiches with mayonnaise, such as tuna mayo or chicken mayo can be consumed when the mayonnaise has been pasteurized. Sandwich mayo that is sold commercially can be eaten by pregnant women. If you are eating in a restaurant or deli, be careful as mayonnaise can contain raw eggs.

Cheese sandwiches

It is best to use hard cheeses like gouda or Swiss when making cheese sandwiches. Avoid eating sandwiches that contain soft cheeses such as brie. These cheeses have a higher risk of listeria contamination.

It’s safer to heat or melt hard cheeses up until they are bubbling. However, you can eat them as is.

Egg sandwiches

Due to salmonella risk, egg sandwiches or sandwiches that contain eggs as an ingredient should only include hard-boiled yolks and not soft or runny ones. If you are using mayonnaise in your egg sandwich, it should be commercially made and pasteurized.

Which Sandwiches & Fillings Can I Eat When Pregnant?

Sandwiches (and ingredients to watch out for) during pregnancy

Here are some guidelines to help you avoid certain sandwich fillings when preparing or eating a sandwich.

  • Avoid dressings and mayonnaise that are not pasteurized (usually homemade). Caesar salad dressing, for example, contains raw eggs and should be avoided.
  • Avoid mayo, dairy spreads, or butter as they are high in calories and fat and lack micronutrients.
  • Make sure the salad is thoroughly cleaned before adding it to your sandwich. This will reduce the risk of listeria. When eating at a restaurant or a salad bar, be extra cautious and request that the sandwich be heated until it is steamed.
  • Roast beef sandwiches are often made with raw or undercooked meat.
  • A hot sandwich is safer to eat than a cold sandwich. There are some cold sandwiches available, and it is a personal choice.

What is the healthiest type of sandwich I can eat when pregnant?

When you are on the move and grab a sandwich, it is better to select a filling that adheres to the guidelines of what to avoid rather than choosing the healthiest option, as your options will be somewhat limited.

You can make the healthiest sandwiches yourself, as you are in control of the ingredients and portion sizes. Here are some ideas for what you can make at home:

  • Up your veggie intake. Try a wholewheat tortilla with hummus and roasted Mediterranean vegetables. If you are really hungry, add a few falafels to your meal.
  • Herbs add flavour and are low in calories. Try an avocado and salad sub with Herby or French sauce.
  • Lean Protein Stops you Feeling Hungry (cold cooked chicken, turkey, prawns/shrimp, etc.) with low-fat salad and mayo, or try cucumber
  • Healthy versions of classics. A hot, toasted sandwich with grated cheese instead of slices or slabs and mustard.

Eat Deli or Take-Out Sandwiches during Pregnancy

You don’t have to give up the convenience of having your sandwich prepared by a sandwich shop like Subway or Potbelly.

If you are pregnant, you can still enjoy a sandwich at Subway, Potbelly or Jimmy John’s, or any other sandwich/deli-style store or supermarket counter. You should still avoid certain fillings and make special requests if you are pregnant.

Following these tips will allow you to make better choices during pregnancy. The smallest of these sandwiches are the ones that we refer to, not the footlongs or 16-inch versions.

Which Sandwiches & Fillings Can I Eat When Pregnant?

Subway Sandwiches and Pregnancy

  • Avoid luncheon or deli meats whenever possible. Subway recommends that pregnant women choose other options like meatballs, tuna, or chicken subs.
  • You can request that the deli meat be heated until it is piping hot if you want to. Subway will heat the filling but not to a steaming temperature. If possible, ask the server to heat it longer until it is steaming. It will make deli meats safer to eat.
  • You can also ask for other fillings that are usually served hot (e.g. The chicken or meatball can be heated until it is hot the same way.
  • Subway uses pasteurized cheese, mayonnaise, and dressings, which are made with pasteurized eggs. These products are safe for pregnant women to consume.
  • You can also see our page on Salad The risk of catching salmonella is still present, whether it’s in a Subway or not. Listeria contamination. Subway follows strict hygiene and cleanliness guidelines, but much of its meat and vegetables are prepackaged.
    A listeria outbreak can happen at both the factory that prepares the veg or salad as well as the franchise you are eating at. Listeria outbreaks can still occur even if your branch is ultra-clean.
    Here is a scenario of risk vs choice. Avoiding salads from sandwich joints is the lowest risk. You can ask for vegetables that are still tasty when hot. Ask for tomatoes instead of lettuce and heat them to a very hot temperature.

Three Subway sandwiches that are safe for pregnant women

Subway offers the same sandwiches in all countries. Here are three suggestions for Subway sandwiches that are safe to eat during pregnancy. All of these are 6 inches rather than footlong.

  • Ask for the vegetables (including the tomatoes and peppers) to be heated longer.
  • Tuna mayo and melted cheese served on a flatbread. (No salad).
  • If they can accommodate your request, you may ask for Meatball Marinara as a wrap rather than a sandwich, or even on their slider rolls.

Eat Potbelly Sandwiches While Pregnant

  • Potbelly sandwiches are no different from any other sandwich purchased from a chain or deli. It is best to avoid the luncheon meat or deli when ordering your sandwich. If you still want to enjoy deli meats from Potbelly there is a compromise.
    The toasting machines in these companies reach temperatures of 500F or higher, which are enough to kill listeria. You can toast your sandwich twice, or leave it under the heating element for a longer time. This will make the deli meat safer to consume during pregnancy. It may be that your bread will be toasted more than usual.
  • You can choose from a variety of non-deli meats such as chicken or meatballs and heat it to a very hot temperature.
  • Potbelly’s mayo, cheese, and dressings are all made with pasteurized ingredients. They are therefore safe to consume by pregnant women.
  • Select salads that can be toasted on the same grill, without them becoming inedible. If your local branch is willing to do this for you, peppers and mushrooms make good choices. You should avoid raw greens or salad leaves due to the possibility of cross-contamination.

Three Potbelly Sandwiches That Are Safe for Pregnancy

  • The thin mushroom melts on wholegrain without the salad, heated to hot
  • The meatball sandwiches on FLATS rather than sub rolls – heated to hot
  • Jelly and Peanut Butter (not the best choice for pregnant women with sweet cravings, but it’s safe).

Pregnant women eating sandwiches at Jimmy John’s

Jimmy Johns toasts their subs, but they follow similar guidelines. The menu will only have one or two options for pregnant women because meat and/or vegetables cannot be heated up to a safe temperature.

If you look at the menu most items are based on deli meats. You’re stuck with tuna or tuna salad with no lettuce or any other salad, or with cheese and condiments such as mustard. It’s all about personal preference and risk.

Listeria contamination occurs rarely, but when it does, the risk can be reduced by heating deli food or vegetables until they are piping hot. Jimmy John’s is not known for serving hot food due to its dedication to speed.