How to Build the Perfect SaladPosted: November 16, 2016 in Healthy Eating by Craig Primack MD FACP
Salad: the one word encapsulates so much of what it means to eat healthy. For some, the idea of a salad is the most enticing thing you can think of. For others, salad represents all that is wrong with trying to lose weight. But in either situation, it is fair to say that eating a salad means you are eating healthy, right? Not necessarily!
Salads may be one of the leading culprits of accidental unhealthy eating. Thanks to the healthy reputation of the dish, many people automatically associate a salad as being healthy without giving a second thought to what is actually inside of the salad bowl. But if you stop and have a deeper look at what is going into some of our favorite salads you may be surprised. Despite the word salad at the end of their name, items like taco salads, Fried-chicken salads and steak salads aren’t very healthy, and are certainly not conducive to weight loss.
This is one of those tricky things that you need to learn to look out for when you are starting a weight loss program. Just because the item is called a salad, that doesn’t mean you get to turn off your common sense and dig in.
There is a reason salads taste better off the menu than they do when you make one at home. The traditional home side-salad is likely just a bag of spring mix with a carefully selected dressing. But fast food and sit-down restaurants alike have large salad menus, many of which are filled with fatty meats, cheese, cream and croutons. Once you actually break down all of the ingredients that are often stuffed into salads, it is not uncommon for a salad to actually hold more calories per serving than some of the more traditional menu items. In fact, there are several salads at McDonalds that have over 700 calories! There are burgers on the menu that have fewer calories than that.
Salads can be a very healthy option, but commercially prepared salads just aren’t always the healthy option. Everything depends on what is in the bowl. The best thing that you can do is create the salad yourself with healthy food choices. A good healthy salad is going to include a combination of greens, vegetables and fruits, including different types of lettuce, like spinach or kale, plenty of carrots or beets, and then a small amount of fruit, like berries or sliced oranges. When you are looking at dressings, skip the fatty ranch and Caesar and opt for a healthy vinaigrette, instead. And finally, choose your protein carefully. Grilled chicken or steamed fish are usually a healthier option than anything fried.
Next time you want to have a healthy salad, try to make it yourself instead of picking one off the menu. Take advantage of restaurants with large salad bars to try new combinations of healthy ingredients. The salad can be your answer to flavorful and healthy eating, but it does take a bit of strategy and contemplation to make sure you are getting the healthiest meal possible.