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They are my typical lunch and my favorite go-to meals.
When I think of ‘healthy eating’, salads are usually the first thing to come to mind. And, they generally are a great choice.
Whether you’re ordering a salad at a restaurant or making one at home packed with fresh, nourishing ingredients, there are so many ways to sabotage your seemingly healthy choice.
I’m sure it might come as a surprise that it’s pretty easy to make a salad not as nutritious and not-so-good-for-you as you thought. In fact, I can give you 7 ways you’re sabotaging your healthy eating efforts. (I’ve been guilty of these, too.)
1. You are skipping the protein
Here’s one that I was chronically guilty of. I’d think that my all plant base salad was super healthy. However, if you don’t have enough protein in your salad, chances are you are going to get very hungry. And, very quickly! You see, protein helps to keep you feeling fuller for a lot longer. It turns it from a side salad to a main meal. Proteins like grilled chicken, salmon and tuna are smart choices. If meat isn’t your thing, legumes like chickpeas and beans or tofu are excellent options.
2. And if you’re adding protein it’s the wrong kind
Fried chicken? Sorry, this is not a smart choice. 86 that ASAP! When picking the right protein don’t sabotage it with a deep fried protein. DO stay away from deep fried options. Not only are they deep fried and full of fat and sodium, but also not exactly a smart choice. You want a good, solid, lean protein.
3. You’re using the wrong dressing
Sorry gorgeous, but that low-fat dressing you have stored in the fridge isn’t going to cut it. Don’t be fooled by catchy marketing labels. (Marketing companies are charmers.) Many store-bought dressings are frequently loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives. Creamy dressings, such as ranch and caesar, in are usually high in both saturated fat and sodium. While this isn’t as big a problem with store-bought vinaigrettes, these seemingly healthy picks can be filled with crap. Make your own salad dressing. It’s very simple! You can never go wrong with the classic balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil combination. One of my favorite go-to dressing is this Lemon Vinegarette. It only has 4 ingredients: lemons, garlic, olive oil, and a dash of sea salt.
4. Your greens aren’t the right ones
Guess what, romaine and iceberg lettuce isn’t going to cut it. Those options are generally filled with water. Pick greens that are the darkest, leafiest you can find like Kale, Spinach, Swiss Chard and Arugula/Rocket. These deep greens are a good pick because they are filled with nutrients and fibre, and have all sorts of benefits for your body. If you like the crunch of these then mix them in with other deep greens. My go-to salad mix is Supergreens from Organic Girl. (Whole Foods carries this brand!) It’s a nice combo of baby dark greens mentioned.
5. Not enough of the right ingredients
The right ingredients that I’m talking about are veggies! Remember that catchy candy slogan: taste the rainbow. Let this be the theme of your salad. Try to get as many colors of the rainbow in as possible. This will ensure you are getting a wide variety of nutrients, feeling satisfied and most importantly your salad will look and taste great. Try to stick to ingredients that are in season. This will ensure that you salad taste great.
6. Too much of the wrong ingredients
Croutons, I’m looking at you. Croutons and dried fruit are an easy way to ruin your salad by adding refined and simple carbohydrates. Croutons from a popular brand are about 30 calories for just six pieces. Do most people put only six croutons on their salad? Not likely. These toppings can also have high sodium levels depending on how they’re prepared. But, bread isn’t bad if you’re eating 100 percent whole wheat. You can definitely get a bread roll to accompany your salad, but keep it healthy and put it down when you’re full.
7. You’re going overboard with nuts, seeds and cheese
Seeds, Nuts, and Cheese are all good for you and a great source of healthy fats and protein; but in small quantities. Now that you’ve built your salad, don’t go overboard with these ingredients. Nuts, seeds and cheese are filled with the good kinds of fat, and provide us with lots of energy. Moderation is still really important. Aim to add a few nuts to your salad. By chopping them up, you will still experience the crunch and texture and you will feel like you have more in there.
I'm an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200), offering guidance to high achievers in aligning their lifestyle with well-being through daily wellness and self-care routines, promoting balance and harmony. Join me at Wellness Bum for tips on living well, and consider subscribing to my newsletter or booking a coaching session.