When I talk to clients, there comes the point where I ask them what they eat/drink from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed.
The responses, of course, vary.
And I could write an entire book on all of the nuance of what I hear in these conversations.
However, I do hear about one food choice arguably more than many others.
A lot of these folks eat salad.
Let me clarify this further and say, a lot of these individuals who come to me for weight loss, frustrated by their lack of results tell me they eat salad.
Clearly someone who eats a meal that is predicated on a boatload of vegetables can’t possibly have a challenge losing weight, right?
The problem lies in how that salad is crafted.
When you take things like: lettuce, spinach, arugula, kale, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, carrots, beets, etc., you have a fantastic and colorful blend of vegetables that are chock full of vitamins and minerals and very low in calories. This is a great thing. You’re NEVER going to hear me say that those are bad options.
Then, people start to get creative.
They hear that they need to eat more protein. So they add things like grilled chicken or grilled salmon, or some slices of steak, diced ham, etc.
And I’m thinking: “Hey, we’re still doing okay. This is still a good, balanced meal.”
And then something goes terribly awry.
Because the creativity amps up and now you see: feta cheese, blue cheese, mozzarella cheese, goat cheese, nuts of all varieties, eggs, avocado slices, and let’s not forget….DRESSING!!
Folks, this is where a salad becomes your nemesis.
One ounce of most cheese (not all) is approximately 100 calories. I’d like you to try measuring that ounce out in the comfort of your own home. Try not to gasp. It’s a painfully small portion.
One ounce of most nuts (not all) is approximately 100 calories. You can measure that out too in the comfort of your own home. Try not to get weak in the knees when you see how little that is.
1/4 of one avocado is nearly 100 calories. Think about that for one second. An entire avocado is at least 300 calories.
And then, the one thing that can completely derail a perfectly appropriate salad and take it straight into CrazyTown (population 1.4 million and climbing) is the salad dressing.
“But Jason!” you exclaim “I use oil and vinegar and olive oil is a healthy fat!”
Yes, my darling readers, olive oil is a “healthy” fat (so are nuts, so is avocado.)
And one tablespoon (go ahead and measure) is over 100 calories.
And when we (myself included) are preparing salad for ourselves, we rarely ever measure. We eyeball. And one thing I try very hard to repeat to my clients is: “If you’re not measuring, you’re guessing. And if you’re guessing, you’re probably wrong.”
Measuring is not fool proof but it is a damn sight better than guessing. Because, frankly, most of us suck at guessing. And I’m talking REALLY suck at it. Dyson should hire us for how much we suck at it.
…that got weird fast…
Most salad dressings (full fat) are nearly 100 calories per tablespoon. Yeah, you should try measuring that too. Take that measured level tablespoon and drizzle that over your salad. Does that make you teary eyed? Hell, it makes me cry and it’s not even my salad.
And here’s where it gets even worse.
Many people order their salads from restaurants. And the restaurants get to choose what and how much of something they put on a salad.
Yes, you can absolutely request that your dressing come on the side. You SHOULD do this before they drench your salad in dressing.
And typically, what you are served is a little container of dressing that on the low end probably has 200 calories of dressing in it and on the high end, I’ve seen offenders of over 500 calories. JUST IN THE ONE CONTAINER.
If you’d really like to spin your head back at a restaurant, especially those restaurants where they are kind enough to print the calories, try comparing your salad of choice to a hamburger. Sometimes there is no difference, meaning you’d be just as well off to eat the greasy hamburger as you would the salad (although you do get far more veggies into your tummy with a salad choice.)
Restaurants have become even more crafty as well. So, when they offer their calories, they may or may not include the dressing as part of the total in a salad option. And, as far as that burger goes, they may only print the calories for the burger itself, not the total calories if you opt to take the fries with it (as opposed to say, side of broccoli.) And let’s be honest, how often does anyone order the burger and say: “You know those fries sound delicious but I’ll take the steamed broccoli instead!” Not often, not even when they order a diet Coke to save on calories…
So, before you take the information from this week’s article and tell your friends: That crazy bald man/trainer/friend of mine said salads were bad for you, I’m only ordering burgers!! That is definitely not the purpose of this post.
What I am trying to tell you is that the way you concoct your salad may be hurting your weight loss goals. Remember, we’re looking at total caloric intake here.
So, if you need a better strategy for a salad that will work better for your weight loss goals, load up with veggies, add a protein source (meats and/or seafood as opposed to nuts and eggs) and as little dressing as humanly possible.
Most importantly, the devil is in the details with your food choices. If you’re struggling to lose weight, there’s normally something happening with calories you’re either unaware of or not giving appropriate credit to (like salad dressing.) Even things that appear innocuous and otherwise “healthy”, like salads, can be massive calorie bombs.
So, armed with all of that knowledge, I’ll ask again: You still want that salad?