For many people, myself included, when it came to losing weight, the first thing I would turn to was salads. When I first lost my weight, I would eat salads all the time. Lunch and dinner. I didn’t measure a thing. I used as much dressing as I wanted. It was a salad after all, right?
O.MY.GOD. Oh how wrong I was. I have NO IDEA how I managed to lose any weight, much less 70 lbs. Knowing then what I know now – I would have done it a millions times differently, and probably already be at my goal weight of 145 lbs (or less). The picture is me in high school as a cheerleader. I had a 35-27-37 body and still thought I was fat. This is what I look at when I get discouraged.
- Avoid using whole nuts – a tablespoon easily adds 100 calories to your meal – substitute chopped nuts if you must have them. Choose lower calorie nuts like almonds, cashews, and walnuts to get that crunch!
- Avoid dried fruits like raisins. The small amounts easily add 100 calories to your salad. If you must have fruit, go for the real thing. put a few slices of apple, mandarin oranges, or grapes in there.
- Many salads have meat added to them to give you the necessary protein to call it a “meal.” Be careful what kind of meat you add. Avoid the fried meats – steak, fried chicken, and lots of bacon – take your healthy salad and put you in calorie overload. Be sure to ask for grilled meats and leaner cuts of steak, chicken, or turkey. Try grilled Salmon in your salad or grilled shrimp (or shrimps if you are one of my co-workers – sorry funny joke that none of you will understand, except her!) Salmon will add some calories, but it’s a very healthy fish. If you go out to eat and the salad comes with fried chicken, tell them to substitute for grilled chicken. I do it ALL THE TIME!
- The easiest way to turn your healthy salad to the other side of the spectrum is by adding cheese. Wow! It wasn’t until I started measuring out my portions to what the packaging says, that I realized I was going overboard. Cheddar and blue cheese are two of the easiest ways to throw an additional 200 calories into your diet. If you are cheese person that can’t live without it, just know that a handful is approximately between 1/4 and 1/2 cup (shredded) and that’s usually 200 calories. I love cheese to death, but if I want a truly low fat/low calorie meal, I skimp on it or I avoid it all together.Be sure to choose a low-fat cheese made from skim milk to cut back on the fat. Every little bit helps.
- Last, but certainly not least is salad dressing. Dressings can make or break you. Fabulous, you followed all the other hints and then you drown your salad in Catalina or Ranch. Hello fatty salad! If you can stomach the low fat and Light! alternatives, the better you will be. I always use Hidden Valley Ranch Light and it cuts the calories and fat way down. Of course that’s only a 2 tablespoon serving, so do yourself the favor and measure it out. If you don’t like to measure ahead of time, try the salad spritzers. Just spray the piece you are eating and the taste is pretty good. If you absolutely must have your favorite, regular dressing – STOP DROWNING IT! Put the dressing on the side and dip each bite. You will be amazed as to how much is left over.
- Skip the croutons! That alone drops out over 100 to 200 calories from your salad! I always pick mine off now.