“But I ate salads all week!”
If this phrase has ever run through your head after getting on a scale and realizing the numbers haven’t budged — or worse, even went up a little — you’re not alone. While most of us understand that salads are a great, nutritious choice when it comes to lunch or dinner, many people don’t consider all the stuff that is actually in their salads. Yes, greens and veggies are great, but if those greens and veggies are underneath a whole lot of high-fat and high-sugar options, you could actually be doing your body a disservice!
Here are some things to consider before digging into your next “healthy” salad.
Healthy Salad Dos and Don’ts
DO add protein
Adding protein to your salad will not only help you feel fuller, but may also help you maintain lean body mass, possibly increasing energy expenditure. When it comes to choosing the right protein, go with grilled or steamed lean meats, like chicken, pork, or fish. Options like fried chicken tenders are delicious, but just a few of them can turn that healthy salad into a fat bomb.
DO consider high-fiber options
Adding more high fiber foods to your diet on a daily basis may help lower cholesterol, balance out your blood sugar, and help with weight management, and it’s easy to add high-fiber options to your next bowl of greens! Some options to try: add a ½ cup of whole-wheat couscous or quinoa, sprinkle bran for a crunchy texture, use whole-wheat croutons, or keep the skin on certain raw vegetables you might be adding, like apples, peaches, and cucumbers.
Another way to get a healthy dose of fiber? Stirring 3 ¼ teaspoons of Benefiber Healthy Shape into any 8 oz. beverage.‡ Benefiber Healthy Shape is a clear, taste-free and completely dissolvable plant-based prebiotic fiber that can help you feel fuller longer.* **
DON’T go crazy with dressings
Creamy dressings like regular Cesar and ranch can be full of fat, especially when you consider the fact that most of us use more than the recommended serving size. If you want to coat your salad with something, consider a tangy vinaigrette, or even a few tablespoons of nutritious pesto.
DON’T always rely on premade meals
While grab-and-go restaurants are convenient, especially during a busy workday, the portion sizes are typically larger than they should be, and it’s sometimes hard to control all the extra ingredients (like salt, sugar, and high-fat extras). Take some time on a Sunday to prep your greens, protein, and additional veggies, and store them all separately until the morning of. Worried about sogginess? Don’t be! There’s a ton of cool lunch containers out there that help keep things separated and fresh — a quick Google search will set you straight!
DO experiment with flavors
No one likes eating the same thing every day, so to keep things exciting, try experimenting with new, seasonal flavors. While one salad may be light and citrusy with oranges, dried cranberries, and a vinaigrette, the next day you can do a more Mediterrainian flair with sun dried tomatoes, hummus, olives, and a little bit of feta cheese. A little bit of creativity will go a long way in alleviating salad burnout!
*Clinical studies show benefits with regular use.
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Use as directed.
‡Not recommended for carbonated beverages.