If you're making a salad your healthy main dish, it isn't enough to throw some greens, dressing, and croutons together on a plate. Building a satisfying and nutritious salad can be easy, but it's important to know what you need and what you should skip — especially when it comes to weight loss! Fix these common mistakes, and you'll be in much better shape when lunch or dinner rolls around.
You Choose a Weak Green
While iceberg or romaine offer hydration to your plate, the real nutrition comes from fiber- and nutrient-rich leafy greens like kale, mixed greens, or spinach. If you're not sure which is which, just opt for a darker color on the salad bar! If all of one green is too much for your taste buds, then try mixing two together for a little variety.
You Don't Pile on the Produce
When it comes to toppings, croutons and nuts are not enough. It's essential to pile the fresh produce on heavy to bring as much nutrient power to your plate as possible. We're big believers in "eating the rainbow" over here, bringing a diverse mix of colorful produce; go for in-season veggies and fruits whenever possible for the best textures and flavors.
You Don't Add Enough Protein
The right amount of protein can make or break your salad. If you pile on gorgeous greens and produce with no protein to be seen, you're going to be hungry soon after you're done eating. Regardless of your diet, the average woman needs 46 grams of protein every day — and that number goes way up if you're active. Lean meat and fish are great options, but if you're following a vegetarian diet, check out these approved protein sources that should make their way into your meal.
You Don't Add Any Good Fat
Steering clear of all fat is doing your body an injustice. It may sound counterintuitive, but eating the mono- and polyunsaturated fats can keep you healthy and satisfied. Foods like walnuts, avocado, and olive oil are all plant-based sources of those omega-3-rich fats, and remember that a little goes a long way.
You Pour the Dressing on Thick
Even if your salad is full of healthy nutrient-rich ingredients, pouring on a heaping helping of unhealthy dressing can change your meal very fast. The front of your favorite store-bought bottle may boast low-calorie and low-fat benefits, but when you read the nutritional information and ingredient list, it's often a very different story. Keep portion sizes in check, and consider making your own healthy dressing at home. This way you have control over all the ingredients and can keep preservatives, chemicals, and too much sugar out of the picture.