I remember a friend of mine many years ago was trying to lose some weight. She was carrying an extra 20 kilos or so and needed to lose the weight to get herself back on track to good health. I met up with her for lunch one day and she had ordered a caesar salad with prawn cutlets on the side. To her, this was making a healthy choice because it was a salad and it had seafood with it.
Many of us hear the word salad and automatically associate it with a healthy choice, but the simple fact is that a salad can be a healthy choice, or it can be as unhealthy as ordering a Big Mac!
So if you are aiming for healthy than this is what to look out for when ordering your salad:
What dressings are used? If you are eating lettuce that is drenched in a creamy mayonnaise or sugary dressing, then you are eating a lot of calories and usually highly processed ones too! Salads such as caesar salads or salads with dressing that suggest honey or sweet chilli are packed full of sugar and saturated fats that turn your healthy salad into a calorie fest. There is nothing wrong with enjoying these types of salads in moderation, just as long as you are aware that the term ‘healthy’ might not be quite so accurate.
What are the main ingredients? Ideally a healthy salad should be predominantly fresh ingredients such as greens, tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, peppers etc. If you salad is predominantly pasta, potatoes, croutons, cheese or fried meats, then again the terms ‘salad’ and ‘healthy’ might be a little generous. That is not to say that you cannot create healthy potato or pasta based salads, however if you are purchasing pre-packaged salads in stores, be aware that ‘Low fat’ can often mean high in sugar.
How big is it? Sometimes we think that because it is salad we can eat endless amounts of it. If you are not concerned about shedding any extra weight, then your portion size is less important, however if you are enjoying a creamy salad then make sure you opt for a sensible size and eat slowly to allow yourself time to feel full when you have had enough! - you might find that your eyes are just bigger than your belly!