Salad always has, and always will be associated with dieting. People eat them if they are trying to watch their weight, or if someone sees someone eating a salad, they presume they are dieting. Watching their weight they may be, but eating a salad might not be the best way to go about it. If you are trying to lose weight, going out to dinner normally only leaves you with one option, a salad. Whereas the truth is, you might as well have gone for that burger you were craving, as it is lower in calories. A whopper is 600 calories and 40g of fat and some salads contain a lot more than that. Not that I suggesting eating whoppers either!
Restaurant salads can be covered in fatty meat, loaded in cheese, mixed with a ton of pasta and dripping with creamy dressing. Not only do these unhealthy add-ons make them way too high in calories, but it pushes the saturated fat and salt way over your daily allowance. The average salad in a restaurant has around 1300 calories and 20g of saturated fat.
This isn't to say that salad CAN'T be healthy. It can, and should, be super healthy. Here are some tips on keeping salad healthy:
- Ask for the dressing on the side. Most of the dressings will be made with cream, sugar and oil and be filled with artificial flavours and preservatives. If you can't go with a plain olive oil and vinegar dressing, then ask for a dressing in a small pot on the side. Dip your fork in it, and then pick up the salad with the fork. You will still get the flavour of the dressing, without it being covered in it. Try not to order any white/creamy dressings and always go with tomato based ones. Don't be lured in by "fat-free" dressings either, as *most* of the time, they are loaded with sugar.
- Make your own dressing. If you are eating a salad at home, you have the luxury of making your own, healthy, dressing. A great one can be quickly made by mixing olive oil and lemon juice together. Quick and simple. There will be lots of dressings uploaded in the recipe section soon - so be sure to keep checking.
- You can have fat on your salad, but make sure it is good fat. Add avocado, olive oil or walnuts.
- Add nuts if you want some crunch. Salads are great because they are full of so many different textures. Most people choose to add bacon or croutons to give the salad some crunch. Both of these are full of bad fat. So, instead add some chopped almonds or walnuts. Celery will give the crunch without the fat too.
- If you are having cheese, have a stronger cheese, so you don't need as much.
- If you need meat on your salad, make it lean. Don't be tempted to add processed ham or fried meats. Go with some baked chicken or turkey, or better still, prawns or salmon.
- Try different types of lettuce. Most people will make a salad with iceberg, which is fine (it's what I use most often myself, as it is the cheapest), but it doesn't contain a whole lot of nutrients (but of course it isn't bad for you). Try some romaine or spinach in your salad to give it a bit of a boost.
Don't just automatically presume you are making a healthy choice by having a salad.
Take a look here at our salad recipes for some healthy inspiration.