de-funking your sucky salad
Before my personal health revolution I was not a salad eater. My tag line about it is, I just cant eat rabbit food all day. Much like my run when chased or after pizza philosophy, this became an excuse. I simply was not the kind of person who ate salads. In fact it really wasnt until Id lost all my weight and kept it off for over a year that I began to incorporate salads into my regular eating.
Occasionally, when I would have a salad, it was usually ceasar or cobb (read: smothered in high fat, high calorie dressing and liberally sprinkled with cheese, bacon and croutons). If I was eating from an actual salad bar (this probably occured twice a year at best) I would load up on iceburg lettuce, cheddar and douse in ranch dressing so that in the end my salad look more like a chowder than vegetables.
The real problem with this is that I was choosing the salad because I thought it was a healthy option. This was in my mind, a real attempt at making a healthy (read: desperate attempt at thinness) choice. You are probably way ahead of the game here and already see the error in my thinking but in case you arent; bacon, cheese and ranch dressing even when eaten on top of a garden of vegetables, isnt healthy. They also arent easy on the waist line.
I was pretty irritated when I figured this out. Here I was thinking I was making a good choice when for the nutritional content, caloric intake etc I may as well have just eaten the cheese burger I really wanted. So my first piece of advice is just that: if you are only eating an unhealthy salad because you are trying to be good, just have the cheese burger. And if youve no interest in eating salads, then dont. There are plenty of ways to eat your vegetables and eat healthfully without ever eating a salad. And as I already mentioned, zero of my initial weight loss was the result of salad eating.
My second piece of advice works for salads but could just as well be a metaphor for my entire nutrition philosophy. If you like salads and you are a person who loads up on the nacho toppings section, then just take baby steps in the right direction. Try removing just one non-nutritious or overly calorie dense item and see how you like it. Then another. Play around with new and different ingredients until you find a replacement for your beloved ranch soup that you enjoy.
Personally, I have found that typically a salad is not super good to me unless it has cheese on it. So I use less cheese, larger chunks (as the shredded stuff doesnt really add much taste anyway) and varieties that are more flavorful (i.e. goat, feta, blue) so I dont need as much. I dont use regular dressing. I prefer a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil though recently Ive cut back on even those.
Which brings me to my next piece of advice. Consider taking away the dressing. Now Im not suggesting you eat a dry salad. But load up on already juicy things. Lots of tomatoes usually does the trick. A good low sodium salsa makes a great salad topper. Kalamata olives in a little of their juice is a good choice. Sometimes I top mine with a nice juicy piece of fish and some almonds and call it good. And in a pinch, lemon juice and a little zest can brighten up some greens as well.
Think outside the box. Just say no to ranch. If I can do this so can you. These small little changes are the ones that make the difference between you and the body you want. So if all that sounds just plain nasty then look elsewhere for your healthy meal choice. But please, please, please dont eat anymore bacon-cheese-fatty-dressing-monstrosities in an effort to slim down. It wont work. And as mentioned before, at that point you may as well have the cheeseburger.
This has been a tough love PSA.