In writing about our personal experiences, we sometimes mention products or services that we use or recommend. This page may contain affiliate links for which we receive a commission.
If you ask almost anyone to name the best meal for a diet aimed at weight loss, one of the 1st answers is almost always a healthy salad.
And, why not? Two cups of mixed greens contain a mere 18 calories.
Loaded with nutritious vegetables, a salad provides everything you need for sound nutrition, while promoting weight loss. That is until you start adding some of the more desirable extras that add flavor, and a good supply of extra calories and fat.
Throw in half a cup of cucumber for another 8 calories, and a 22-calorie sliced tomato, and you have the start of the perfect meal — all for less than 50 calories!
If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. Healthy salads are frequently wrecked by the unhealthy salad ingredients that we put on them.
If you want to keep your salads healthy, then you’ll want to avoid ingredients that can quickly turn the perfect meal into one of the unhealthiest.
Salad Ingredients To Avoid
Let’s face it. The basic lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad is boring. And when it comes to managing weight, boring is the kiss of death.
Of course, building a tasty, enjoyable salad is limited only by a lack of imagination. There are as many ways to turn a salad into a full, satisfying meal as there are people looking to curb their hunger in a nutritious way.
Here are 5 favorite salad ingredients that should be avoided if weight management is your goal:
#1 – Salad Dressings
If you’re anything like me, you want to have a dressing on your salad.
The blue cheese salad wedge is popular in many restaurants, but I’m not sure it would classify as a “healthy salad.”
One of the easiest ways to enhance the flavor of any salad is with the addition of a creamy or oil based dressing.
Two tablespoons of dressing (which, by the way, is not a lot and is far less than you’re likely to consume) can add anywhere from 15 calories and zero grams of fat to a whopping 160 calories and 17 grams of fat.
Try making your own healthy salad dressings instead.
#2 – Fattening Proteins
If you’re having salad as a meal it should include a protein component.
Trying to decide what protein is the healthiest to add? Instead of fried chicken, hard boiled eggs, or bacon, consider adding grilled chicken or shrimp.
A medium grilled chicken breast is around 150 calories. You can do a little better by choosing grilled shrimp.
Eating 1 medium grilled shrimp adds 6 calories — so you can indulge in a dozen for half the calories of the chicken breast.
#3 – Cheese
A favorite flavor enhancer on any salad is cheese.
With a significant shot of protein and calcium, cheese is a natural choice as a healthy salad ingredient.
Keep in mind, however, you can count on an additional 70 to 120 calories per ounce depending on your cheese of choice. That’s not even taking the grams of fat into consideration.
#4 – Dried Fruit
Seemingly super healthy… dried fruits are showing up on salad bars everywhere.
And they’re stocked in the produce section in grocery stores, too.
Dried cranberries, apricots, or citrus can add a lot of flavor and color to a salad
But if you’re watching your weight and sugar consumption, you should realize that a quarter cup of any dried fruit will bring your calorie count up another 100 to 150 calories.
That’s not even taking into account the generous amount of sugar you will be consuming.
#5 – Avocados
The still somewhat mysterious avocado is also a popular salad extra.
Just so you know, that avocado might set you back an additional 120 calories and 10 or more grams of fat in a half cup serving if you choose to add that to your salad.
In spite of its undeniable health benefits, the avocado is definitely something to approach with nutritional caution.
If you make the right salad ingredient choices, then you can enjoy a healthy, substantial meal that won’t leave you hungry or nutritionally deprived.
But if you make a few wrong choices, expect to see your calorie count (and the scale) continue to go up and up.
More Healthy Salad Resources
- How To Build A Very Healthy Salad
- 8 Ways To Turn A Taco Salad Recipe Into A Healthy Meal
- Portion Control Gadgets To Help You Lose Or Maintain Weight
- 8 Of The Healthiest Salad Dressings
- Is The DASH Diet For You? You Decide
- 15 Salads Worse Than The McDonald’s Big Mac
- How To Save Money on Your Healthy Diet
Professionally, I pursued my Masters Degree in Family Therapy at Texas Tech — where I obtained invaluable expertise and experience helping people with a wide variety of physical and emotional health issues. Personally, I think it's useful when people realize that they're not the only one going through a difficult time. So any time that I think my personal health experiences would be helpful to someone else going through the same thing, I will share my story here. With health issues that I've personally experienced (like Endometriosis, Lyme Disease, Hysterectomy, Skin Cancer, Ganglion Cysts, Autism, and other topics that very few people enjoy talking about) and health products that I've found beneficial (like sleep aids, essential oils, and medications)… I do my best to provide my own raw and honest firsthand experiences that I think others would appreciate hearing about and (hopefully) find helpful. I'm grateful that I have a number of friends who have also been willing to share their very personal stories here — regarding their own physical and emotional health. When I'm not writing about health topics, you will find me sharing Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).