A lot of people think that just because you’re eating salad it’s going to be healthy for you…. well, that is true but it can also be very wrong! There are a lot of different ingredients and dressing and protein and a number of calories can quickly add up over a short period of time. Between seeds, nuts, higher-fat vegetables, protein and dressings, your salad could end up being more calories than a cheeseburger.
Here are 10 ways you could be ruining your “healthy” salad:
Getting protein in your meals is super important as part of a balanced diet. Loading up your salad with protein, cheese and eggs can send the calorie count through the roof. However, if you don’t get enough protein it’s going to leave you feeling hungry in a short period of time. Try using plant based protein in your salads if you do need more protein, like lentils, beans or tofu. If you want a meatier option, opt for lean protein like seafood or chicken! 3 oz is all you need and it will help hold you over until your next meal!
Having the same salad over and over can quickly become redundant and you could be missing out on different vegetables with different vitamins and minerals that are essential to our health. Mixing up your veggies could help reduce the risk of certain cancers and keep your meals fresh and different!
Fat is a difficult thing to balance, and people either use too little or too much fat when they are preparing a salad for a meal. Healthy fats such as seeds, nuts, legumes or avocados are chalk full of calories and can quickly add up, but they are healthy calories and necessary for our overall health!
4. Avoiding Starch
When you’re packing your lunch for a long day in the office, you don’t want to avoid starch. Complex carbohydrates are key for keeping energy up throughout the day. Carbs have a bad reputation in the media and with trendy diet fads, but not all carbs are bad for us! Sweet potatoes, brown rice, and quinoa are just a few examples of awesome carbs that are super healthy and help to keep our energy high throughout the day.
5. No Flavor
Salads can get boring if you don’t keep the flavor high and keep a variety of ingredients. Try adding some of your favorite dried herbs or favorite overall seasonings. Mrs. Dash is a great, low-sodium option to sprinkle on your salads without adding anything bad.
6. Salad Dressing
Salad dressing can be the ultimate demise of your healthy lunch. When you purchase salad dressing off of the shelf, it can be packed full of chemicals and fats that help preserve shelf life. Opt for making your own salad dressing at home with olive oil, vinegar and some fresh lemon juice to keep the chemicals and calories at bay.
7. Using Fried Protein
When you’re preparing chicken or any sort of protein for your salads, use grilled and not battered or fried. The batter on protein can quickly add calories to your salad and simple carbohydrates can spike your blood sugar and make it come crashing back down, making your energy lag throughout the day.
8. Thinking Your Salad is a Taco
When you’re trying to spice things up, it can be tempting to put a fun cultural twist on your lunch. Adding crunchy chips, sour cream, cheese, all that comes with creating a taco salad. Keep it clean, avoid dairy if possible and keep the simple, processed carbohydrates at a minimum.
Cheese adds a ton of flavor, but a small amount of cheese can add a lot of calories. 1 oz. of cheese can have upwards of 100 calories. 1 oz. also is a very tiny amount so most people use at least 2 oz. If you use even more than it can become quickly apparent why a salad can be totally unhealthy.
10. Processed Meats
Meats such as bacon, ham, and salami can add TONS of flavor to a salad, but they come at a price. These meats are full of sodium and preservatives and have been directly linked to an increase in cancer when consumed often. Avoid these if at all possible.