Is Your Salad Making You Fat?

April 30, 2014

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Is there anything worse than watching the numbers on the scale move up instead of down? Yes, there is. It’s watching the numbers creep up after weeks and months of subsisting on salads and other healthy fare. What’s going on here? Is life just unfair, or are you doing something wrong?

Here are some common salad blunders that can actually cause you to gain weight.

Garnishing with Crispy Extras

Craving Asian food but faced with swimsuit season, many people toss a spoonful of crispy noodles onto their leafy lunch. Bad idea. One serving of crispy noodles has about 130 calories. If you choose croutons instead, you may still be in trouble. One tiny package of fast-food croutons has about 50 calories and nearly 2 grams of fat. That’s a lot of calories for a little crunchiness.

Try adding these crunchy choices instead: water chestnuts, sliced almonds, and even high fiber cereal.

Overdoing the Dressing

This one is no mystery. Dressings are notoriously high in fat and calories. The best way to eliminate excess calories in dressing is to think logically.

Of course, thick, gooey dressings contain loads of calories, but consider another issue with these condiments: they don’t spread throughout your salad easily, causing you to add more and more.

If you opt for a light vinaigrette, you can save hundreds of calories. Fluid dressings not only have fewer calories, but they also spread throughout your salad more evenly than creamy versions, allowing you to use less.

Adding Dried Fruit

Most dried fruits are loaded with sugar. For example, a handful of dried cranberries has nearly 29 grams of sugar, most of which does not occur naturally. Cranberries are very tart, so they need extra sweetness to be palatable.

However, many fruits are naturally sweet. If you opt for unsweetened dried fruits, your waistline with thank you. Unsweetened varieties may not be readily available on the salad bar, so pick up some at the grocery store, and keep them handy.

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Including Fried Chicken

Yes, a salad topped with crispy chicken is yummy, but it’s a poor choice. In fact, a McDonald’s Premium Bacon Ranch Salad with Crispy Chicken has 390 calories, the same number of calories as a double cheeseburger.

Adding protein to your salad is a great idea, but if you choose grilled chicken instead of the fried equivalent you will save nearly 17 grams of fat.

Being a Little Cheesy

Even a little cheese packs a big punch. One serving of cheese is about the size of those appetizer squares you spear with a toothpick at catered events. Each of these tiny servings has about 120 calories and 10 grams of fat.

People choose cheese because it’s creamy and adds protein. Better choices that provide both protein and creaminess are light cheeses, cottage cheese, and even shredded hard boiled eggs.

When you mindfully choose your salad’s ingredients, the nutritional picture changes for the better. With a few healthy alterations, you will soon watch the pounds melt away.