It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.

Please note that the Ask Dr. Gourmet feature is restricted to questions regarding food and nutrition. Due to the many questions we receive, not all questions may be answered. For more specific questions about your individual health, please contact your doctor. About Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy


Ask Dr. Gourmet

Can I substitute canned fish for the meats or cheeses in my sandwiches?

The Dr. Gourmet Diet Plan for me includes a lot of animal/fish/cheese protein, which is fine. I do not eat enough fish.

I do not like canned tuna, but I do like a lot of Trader Joe's brands, including canned salmon, trout and sardines and probably more things along that line that they have. Can I substitute 2 ounces of that for the 2 ounces of meat or cheese for the sandwich? I would probably drain it if it is packed in oil, and use lemon and maybe 2 wasa bread crackers along with salad (again with lemon and maybe a dash of oil). Would that work and be acceptable?

Also, I am ok with using skim milk in place of 2% most of the time, so is that substitution ok?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

Canned sardines in oil

Both of your substitutions are great choices. Canned salmon will make a fine substitution for canned tuna. The trout is a good choice as well. In both cases look for canned fish that is lower in sodium.

Sardines are something that you might want to have sparingly. There are good Omega 3 fats in sardines and most of them are packed in olive oil. Drain them well. The drawback is that sardines generally have a fair amount of sodium, so occasional lunches are the best way to go.

Skim milk is a great choice. In some cases I find that 2% is a better choice for cooking, in soups, sauces and the like.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet