Many people mistakenly believe that if a meal contains lettuce, it is automatically healthy. Salads are often some of the more fattening items on the menu. I laugh when people order a caesar salad because they are “on a diet”. A caesar salad is beyond fattening. And a taco salad is never a healthy choice; you know your salad is unhealthy when it contains anything fried or is topped with sour cream. Even just a plain salad with regular salad dressing can sabotage your diet. Salad dressing has lots of calories and fat. Blue cheese and caesar salad dressings are the worst- they have about 76 calories and 8 grams of fat per tablespoon. And most people use much more than 1 Tbsp when dressing their salads. Other regular salad dressings have about 55 calories and 6 grams of fat per tablespoon. Light salad dressings have about 30 calories and 1.5 grams of fat per tablespoon and fat-free salad dressings have about 20 calories per tablespoon. Regardless of the type of dressing, be careful of serving sizes!!!
A patient’s family recently told me that prior to coming to see me, they had been trying to lose weight on their own. They like to go to Burger King for the convenience- so they had begun to order salads to help them lose weight. They typically ordered a crispy chicken salad- and topped it with a packet of croutons and two packets of the light italian dressing. This “diet” meal contains 710 calories and 45 grams of fat! I told them that if they had eaten a small burger and small fries, they would have SAVED themselves 190 calories and 20 grams of fat!
Be very careful when eating salad. Try to use a small amount of a fat-free or low fat dressing- or better yet, learn to enjoy salads with just a splash of balsamic vinegar!