Eating well-balanced and nutritious meals is especially important during pregnancy. The food a mother eats is the main source of nutrition for her baby as it grows and develops. Many pregnant women wonder if they can still enjoy their favorite fast food restaurants, like Subway.
By the end of this article you’ll know if Subway can be a safe part of an expectant mother’s diet and if so, how to make the healthiest choices when eating there. The goal is to provide pregnant women the knowledge they need to satisfy Subway cravings without compromising their health or their baby’s development.
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Can You Eat Subway While Pregnant
Can you eat Subway while pregnant? Yes, you can, but be cautious with certain ingredients. Toast your sandwich to kill off bacteria. Avoid cold deli meats, soft cheeses, and certain vegetables. Stick to non-luncheon meat items like steak and cheese, roasted chicken, and tuna (limit 2 servings a week).
Is Subway Healthy?
Subway has marketed itself as a healthy fast food option. Their advertisements tout fresh vegetables, lean meats, and whole grain breads. But is Subway actually healthy, especially for pregnant women?
When looking at Subway’s ingredients, there are some positives but also some concerns. On the plus side, Subway does use fresh vegetables like tomatoes, spinach, onions, peppers, and olives. These provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The lean meat options, like roasted chicken and turkey, are high in protein. Whole wheat breads offer more fiber than white flour varieties.
However, some of Subway’s menu items are high in fat, calories, sodium, and preservatives. The meats, cheese, sauces, and dressings add a lot of sodium and saturated fat. Some breads still contain refined flours and added sugar. The cookies and chips are fried and highly processed. Even the salads pack in calories from fatty dressings and ingredients like fried chicken strips.
Overall, Subway can be a healthier fast food choice if you select whole grain breads, lots of veggies, and lean protein. But pregnant women still need to watch out for excess calories, fat, sodium, and preservatives. It’s best to customize your sandwich and skip high-sodium sauces. Subway offers better options than many fast food chains, but it shouldn’t be considered truly healthy, nutritious fare.
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Key Nutrients for Pregnant Women
When you’re eating for two, it’s important to focus on key nutrients that support a healthy pregnancy and fetal development. Here are some of the top nutrients pregnant women need more of:
Folic acid, also known as folate or vitamin B9, is arguably the most important nutrient during pregnancy. It helps prevent neural tube defects and supports the baby’s brain and spinal cord development. Pregnant women need 600 micrograms of folic acid daily from fortified foods, supplements or both.
Calcium is required for building your baby’s bones and teeth. If you don’t consume enough, the mineral will be pulled from your bones instead. Aim for 1,000 milligrams daily through dairy products, calcium-fortified juices, or supplements.
Pregnancy increases your blood volume, so more iron is needed to prevent anemia. Get 27 milligrams of iron daily from lean red meat, poultry, fish, dried beans, iron-fortified cereal and prune juice. Taking iron supplements may also be recommended.
Protein ensures you and your baby get adequate amino acids for promoting growth and repairing bodily tissues. Pregnant women need at least 70 grams of protein per day. Good sources include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, peas, nuts, seeds and soy products.
This omega-3 fatty acid benefits your baby’s brain and eye development. Aim for at least 200 milligrams daily from fatty fish, eggs enriched with DHA or supplements.
Eating a balanced diet with these key nutrients gives your baby the best nutritional start possible.
Analyzing Subway Menu
Subway has a wide variety of menu options that pregnant women can consider. Here’s an overview of some of the top choices across different menu categories:
Subway subs can make a nutritious choice during pregnancy since they allow you to customize ingredients and avoid anything potentially harmful. Some subs to look at are:
- Veggie Delite – This vegetable-packed sub is a great way to get nutrients like vitamin A and C. You can load it up with spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and more.
- Oven Roasted Chicken – Chicken provides lean protein which is essential during pregnancy. Get it as a sub or salad.
- Turkey Breast – Another lean protein option that you can pair with veggie toppings and avoid high-fat sauces.
Subway’s salad options make it easy to build a healthy pregnancy meal. Some excellent choices are:
- Roasted Chicken Salad – Get lean protein with spinach instead of lettuce for more nutrients.
- Veggie Delite Salad – Customize this with fresh vegetables and add avocado for healthy fats.
- Turkey Breast Salad – Turkey packs protein, pair it with lots of veggies.
If eating at Subway for breakfast, focus on options like:
- Egg White & Cheese – Egg whites provide protein without the high cholesterol of whole eggs.
- Veggie Egg White & Cheese – Add veggies for an extra nutrient boost.
- Breakfast Sandwich – Pick lean protein fillings like turkey or egg whites.
The key is customizing your meal, choosing nutritious ingredients and avoiding excessive unhealthy add-ons like heavy sauces. Overall Subway can be a good option for pregnant women focused on a balanced diet.
Best Subway Meals When Pregnant
When eating at Subway while pregnant, focus on meals that provide a good balance of veggies, lean protein, fiber, and nutrients. Here are some of the healthiest Subway meals to choose during pregnancy:
Go for a 6-inch Veggie Delite on 9-grain wheat bread loaded up with veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers and olives. Ask for extra spinach and avocado for more folate and fiber. Add some oil and vinegar for a dose of healthy fats. This sub offers a big nutritional payoff without too many calories.
Oven Roasted Chicken
Choose a 6-inch Oven Roasted Chicken Breast sub on honey oat bread with lots of crisp veggies like spinach, bell peppers, tomatoes and red onions. Top it off with mustard and vinegar for a tasty meal that provides lean protein and essential prenatal nutrients.
Turkey and Avocado
Order a 6-inch Turkey Breast sub on 9-grain wheat topped with spinach, tomatoes, onions, green peppers and lots of nutrient-dense avocado. The mix of turkey, veggies and avocado supplies a good balance of protein, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats to support you and your growing baby.
Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki
Go for a 6-inch Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sub on Italian herbs and cheese bread with spinach, banana peppers, cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes. Ask for light teriyaki sauce. The grilled chicken gives you protein while the veggies provide key nutrients.
Steak and Cheese
Choose a 6-inch Steak and Cheese sub on 9-grain wheat bread with lots of bell peppers, tomatoes, spinach, onions, cucumbers and jalapenos. Top it with mustard, oil and vinegar. The lean steak supplies iron and protein, while the veggies provide vitamins and minerals.
Order a 6-inch Salmon BLT sub on honey oat bread stacked with veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, red onions, and green peppers. The salmon provides omega-3s, protein and B-vitamins. And the veggies add key antioxidants and nutrients.
Focus on customizing your sub with lots of fresh veggies for a healthy prenatal meal. And stick to 6-inch portions to keep calories in check.
Foods to Avoid at Subway
Pregnant women need to be careful about what they eat at Subway. While Subway can be a healthier fast food option, there are still some menu items that should be avoided or minimized during pregnancy.
Processed meats like pepperoni, salami, and deli meat (turkey, roast beef, ham) should be avoided as much as possible while pregnant. These meats go through processing and curing methods that increase the risk of contamination with listeria, a bacteria that causes food poisoning and can be especially dangerous during pregnancy.
Deli meats are particularly problematic – even if heated – because contamination can occur before or after cooking. The safest approach is to avoid deli meats entirely while pregnant or replace with veggie patties.
Pregnant women are advised to avoid unpasteurized cheeses due to risk of listeria. This includes popular cheeses like feta, Brie, Camembert, blue cheese, and Mexican-style cheeses like queso fresco. Processed cheeses and pasteurized cheddar, mozzarella, and cream cheese are considered safe. At Subway, it’s best to avoid the blue cheese and feta crumbles and ask for cheese alternatives.
Subway offers creamy dressings loaded with sugar and empty calories, like ranch, honey mustard, and sweet onion sauce. The tangy BBQ sauce is also high in sugar. Opt for oil and vinegar or mustard based dressings, load up on veggies, and avoid sugary drink add-ons to keep blood sugar balanced and nutrition high.
When eating at Subway while pregnant, portion control is key. The sandwiches available are often very large, containing well over the recommended serving sizes for pregnant women. Here are some tips for keeping portions in check:
- Opt for a 6-inch sandwich instead of a footlong. A 6-inch sub contains about 300-400 calories, while a footlong can have 600-800 calories. That’s often too large of a meal for one sitting.
- Split your footlong sub in half and save the other portion for later. The subs keep well for a couple days in the fridge.
- Fill your sandwich with lots of veggies, which add nutrients and bulk without many calories. Get extra spinach, tomatoes, onions, peppers and other fresh veggies.
- Go easy on high-calorie sauces and dressings. Opt for mustard, vinegar or oil and vinegar rather than mayo-based or creamy sauces.
- Choose leaner meats like turkey, ham and chicken breast instead of higher fat meats like steak or salami.
- Stick to water or milk as your drink. Avoid sugary sodas and juices which spike blood sugar.
- Share a side salad or yogurt instead of having your own. A 6-inch Veggie Delight sub plus half a salad and half a yogurt is a good meal for one.
- Listen to your hunger cues and stop eating when satisfied. Don’t feel you have to finish everything just because it’s part of a meal combo.
Following portion size recommendations will help ensure you and baby get the right nutrients without overdoing calories. Moderation and balance are key when eating Subway while pregnant.
When eating at Subway while pregnant, there are a few key safety precautions to keep in mind:
Listeria is a type of bacteria that can contaminate certain foods and cause an infection called listeriosis. Pregnant women are at higher risk for listeriosis, which can cross the placenta and potentially lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or illness in the newborn baby.
To avoid listeriosis when eating at Subway:
- Avoid deli meats and smoked seafood, which are more prone to Listeria contamination. Stick to roast beef, turkey, chicken, or vegetarian subs.
- Ensure all meats are thoroughly cooked and sandwiches are heated thoroughly.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
- Avoid touching multiple surfaces when getting napkins, lids, etc. and wash your hands before eating.
Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite that can be found in undercooked meats and unwashed fruits and vegetables. It can cause serious complications in pregnancy, including miscarriage, stillbirth, and problems after birth.
To avoid toxoplasmosis at Subway:
- Only eat meat, poultry, and seafood that is thoroughly cooked and hot.
- Wash hands thoroughly after handling raw meats.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
- Avoid touching mouth or eyes while preparing food.
Certain fish can contain high levels of mercury, which is unsafe in pregnancy. Subway offers tuna and seafood salad which may be high in mercury.
To avoid mercury exposure:
- Limit tuna subs to no more than once per week.
- Avoid seafood salad and other fish options unless you know they are low in mercury.
- Stick to lean meats like turkey, chicken, and roast beef when possible.
Following basic food safety guidelines will help minimize risks when eating Subway while pregnant. Focus on fully cooked meats, thoroughly washed produce, and avoiding high mercury fish.
When to Avoid Subway
Pregnancy can be a tricky time for eating out. There are certain times during pregnancy that Subway and other fast food may need to be avoided.
During the first trimester, many pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting, which is commonly called morning sickness. The smells and textures of Subway bread and meats may trigger nausea. It’s best to avoid Subway in the first trimester if you are having severe morning sickness. Stick to bland foods that won’t upset your stomach. Once the morning sickness subsides, usually by week 14, you may be able to tolerate Subway again.
If you develop gestational diabetes, you will need to be very careful about your carbohydrate and sugar intake. Subway sandwiches are typically high in carbs from the bread and sugar from dressings and sauces. Work closely with your doctor and nutritionist to develop a meal plan if you have gestational diabetes. You will likely need to avoid Subway sandwiches and instead choose lower carb options like salads with minimal dressings. Controlling your blood sugar is crucial during pregnancy.
In general, listen to your body during pregnancy. If certain Subway foods are not sitting well or making you feel unwell, avoid them. Pregnancy can be unpredictable, so stay flexible with your diet. Discuss any food sensitivities or cravings with your OBGYN to determine if Subway can be part of a healthy pregnancy diet for you.
Overall, eating at Subway can be a relatively healthy fast food option during pregnancy as long as you make smart choices. Some key takeaways:
- Subway offers nutritious options like salads, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, and fresh fruit that are important for pregnant women and babies. Opt for these over fried, fatty, or heavily processed menu items.
- Portion control is important. Many Subway footlong subs provide over 1,000 calories, which is too much in a single meal for most pregnant women. Opt for a 6″ sub or salad with reasonable portions.
- Avoid risky foods like deli meats and seafood that could contain bacteria or mercury. Heat high-risk items like roast beef and rotisserie chicken before eating.
- Wash all produce thoroughly and avoid unpasteurized items. Take precautions for foodborne illness, which can be dangerous in pregnancy.
- Make customized choices that work for you based on your cravings, energy needs, appetite, and nutrition requirements. Talk to your doctor about any concerns over Subway meals.
- Take care to get nutrients like protein, fiber, iron, calcium, folate, and choline that are essential during pregnancy and fetal development. Supplement your diet as needed.
Overall, Subway can be a fairly healthy option for expectant mothers in moderation. Making smart choices and being aware of risks can help you safely satisfy Subway cravings during pregnancy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I eat Subway during pregnancy?
Yes, you can eat Subway during pregnancy, but certain precautions should be taken. It’s best to opt for toasted subs to kill off any harmful bacteria. Avoid cold deli meats and opt for non-luncheon meat items like steak and cheese, roasted chicken, and limited servings of tuna. Some pregnant women choose to avoid Subway due to concerns about the freshness of ingredients.
What subs can I eat while pregnant?
While pregnant, it’s best to choose subs that are toasted to kill off any harmful bacteria. Opt for non-luncheon meat items like steak and cheese, roasted chicken, and limited servings of tuna. Avoid cold deli meats, soft cheeses, and certain vegetables to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses.
Can you eat bacon from Subway while pregnant?
It’s generally recommended to avoid eating bacon from Subway while pregnant, as it is a cold deli meat. Pregnant women are advised to opt for toasted subs to kill off any harmful bacteria and to avoid cold deli meats to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses.
Is Subway tuna safe during pregnancy?
Subway tuna is considered safe during pregnancy, but it’s recommended to consume it in limited servings. The FDA and EPA recommend that pregnant women can safely eat up to 12 ounces of low-mercury fish and shellfish per week, which includes canned light tuna. It’s important to be mindful of mercury levels when consuming tuna during pregnancy.