What is the first thing you hear people talk about eating when they mention that they are going on a diet? The thing that comes to my mind is salads. Everyone turns to salads when they want to improve their eating habits but there are two things you should be aware of. First, when you go on a “diet” you do not have to restrict yourself to eating salads in order to lose weight. Second, salads are not always a healthy choice.
Salads are often times thought of as the ultimate diet food because lettuce is made up of mostly water and is good for you in many ways. It is true that salads can be quite healthy, but if you are not careful about what goes on your salads you could be in big trouble.
Take the chicken Caesar salad from Chili’s for example. This dish packs in 1,010 calories and 76 grams of fat. How about the Steakhouse salad at Applebee’s? This one is going to cost you 1,191 calories and 75 grams of fat. Both of these restaurants have much healthier options on the menu if you do a little research. Do not fool yourself into thinking that the healthy options are always salads.
If you have decided that you are really fond of salads and they are your healthy meal of choice, keep these tips in mind when preparing or ordering one for yourself.
When choosing the base for your salad, keep in mind that the darker the leaves the healthier they are for you. Spinach contains nine-times the amount of Vitamin K as iceberg lettuce.
Brightly colored fruits and vegetables give you the most nutrients and the best salads contain a wide variety. Try adding artichoke hearts, beets, corn, red and green peppers, and tomatoes.
Pack in protein:
Make your goal at least 25 grams of protein because this will help keep you full longer. Ideas for adding protein include whole eggs (7 grams), cottage cheese (7 grams in ¼ cup), chopped chicken (11 grams in 1/3 cup), or tuna (23 grams in 3 ounces).
Avoid creamy dressings:
Creamy salad dressings contain the most fat and calories. Look for dressings marked low-calorie and/or low-fat such as those that are vinegar based. If you do choose a creamy dressing, ask for it on the side. You will be more likely to eat less of it this way.
Salad bar traps:
There are several items at a salad bar that contain few nutrients and many calories. They include bacon bits, fried chow mien noodles, and croutons, just to name a few. Forgo these items when possible.
Remember, if you are trying to lose weight you do not have to stick solely to salads. You can usually find other items on the menu that are just as healthy.
Rachel Lukasavige is a Health Coach at Lukas Coaching. Visit www.lukascoaching.com/resources.htm for a ton of free tools to help you improve your health, finances, business, career & life!