Salad, on its own, is actually one of the healthiest, lowest-calorie meals around. If you simply consumed lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and all the other veggie salad fixings, you would have nothing to worry about. But, if you’re not careful, your salad can actually make you fat! Here’s how:
You Make it a Taco Salad
Taco salad is far less of a proper salad than you should be eating. Piling your lettuce into a taco shell or flour tortilla will make it VERY high in calories, and that’s before you’ve added in the cheese, cream, and meat. There’s nothing wrong with lettuce and salad fixings in a taco, but don’t cheat yourself by believing that that’s a real salad.
You Add Dressing
Salad can be a bit bland and unpleasant without dressing, but watch the kind of dressing you put on your salads! Creamy dressings like Ranch, Caesar, and Blue Cheese have way too many calories, not to mention saturated fats. If you have to have salad dressing, order vinaigrette. Even better, dip your fork into the dressing before spearing the lettuce–you’ll eat far less dressing this way!
You Add Fat-Free Dressing
This is almost as bad as adding full-fat dressing! Just because your salad dressing doesn’t have fat, that doesn’t mean it’s free of sugar, calories, preservatives, and artificial ingredients. These things can be just as bad for your weight loss as fat–worse, in many cases! Fat-free dressings don’t even taste that great, so you’re just ruining your salad by removing fat.
You Add Croutons
When making a salad, nothing adds a bit of crunch and flavor like croutons. But do you have any idea how unhealthy those things are? Just half a cup of croutons can add up to 100 calories to your salad, and it’s easy to be over-liberal with the croutons. They’re empty carbs, empty calories, and excess fat, so they’re a no-no for your healthy salad!
You Sprinkle Bacon Bits
Bacon may be one of the most delicious meats on the planet, but what’s it doing in your salad? A single slice of bacon will contain 50 to 150 calories, but bacon bits are even worse–50 calories per tablespoon! Bacon bits contain a lot of trans fats and sodium, making it less than wonderful for your health. You’d be better off eating a strip of bacon, or simply cutting bacon from your salad altogether.
You Add Dried Fruit and Candied Nuts
How many salads are served with dried cranberries, raisins, dried apricots, or candied nuts? A surprising number, in fact! These foods may once have been healthy when in their natural form, but they stopped being so the moment they were candied or dried. Dried fruits have had all the liquid leeched out, leaving only fiber and sugar in concentrated form. Candied nuts are covered in sugar, making them more like actual candy than real, healthy nuts. The only type of fruit and nuts that belong in your salad are fresh and raw!
You Add Too Much Fat
Yes, there is such a thing as “healthy fat”–think avocadoes, olive oil, nuts, etc. But there is also such a thing as “too much of a good thing”. Half a cup of nuts can add a whopping 400 calories to your salad, and olive oil packs 100 calories per tablespoon. Just because the fat is healthy, that doesn’t make it any lower in calories. Some healthy fats are fine in your salad, but be careful not to overdo it just because the fat is natural and healthy!