Certainly adding tons of cheese and croutons is not going to improve the healthy nature of your salad. If you are choosing a salad so that you can have a delicious, nutrient filled meal, then you should be careful about what you include in that salad.
Here are five common salad mistakes that may be sabotaging your healthy choice:
1. Picking the salad because it has the lowest calories.
Usually, a salad will have fewer calories than a cheeseburger, and it’s a healthier choice. But, you can take the “healthy choice” part too far and choose a salad that does not have enough calories to keep you full and give you the energy you need. This can lead to in-between meal snacking or cause you to reach for an unhealthy snack. Or you might think that because you were “good” at lunch, you can indulge later. Instead, choose a salad that has enough calories and protein to keep you full. This means that your salad should probably be between 400-600 calories, more if you are very active.
2. Always eating romaine lettuce.
Although romaine lettuce is not bad for you, it’s not the best choice of greens and contains very little in the way of nutrients like vitamin A, fibre, folate, and potassium. Make it a point to choose healthier greens when you can, like baby spinach, kale, red and green cabbage, or shredded Brussels sprouts. Erica Giovinazzo, RD, head nutritionist at BRICK Los Angeles states, “They all provide vitamins and minerals in different amounts, so mixing it up ensures you get the most out of all of them.”
3. You don’t add enough protein.
If you think that sticking to only vegetables in your salad will help your diet, you are mistaken. You need protein to stay full, and to make sure your salad is a balanced meal. Add lean proteins like chicken, turkey, salmon, or tuna; vegetarians may opt for tempeh or beans. Women generally need 21-28 grams of protein in a salad, and men need 35-42 for a healthy meal, according to Giovinazzo, who states, “But the more active you are, the more protein you need. So those numbers could be higher.”
4. You overdo it with healthy fats.
Sure, nuts, seeds, and avocados and olive oil provide healthy fats that are good for you, but they can also quickly raise the calories in your salad. Giovinazzo explains the balance, “Aim for one to two servings of healthy fats per salad. If you add avocado and nuts, then have plain lemon juice or plain balsamic vinegar as your dressing.”
5. You splurge later.
Just because you had a salad for lunch does not mean you can overdo it later and overindulge. Having a salad is a great way to fill up on healthy foods, but it does not give you permission to add tons of junk food later. You can occasionally have dessert, but make sure that you are having a treat, not an entire cake. Choose things like a square of dark chocolate, which can indulge your sweet tooth without sabotaging your entire meal plan.
Salads can be a great way to fill your body with clean, healthy, nutritious foods. Just make sure to avoid these common mistakes when choosing your salad!