I was discussing this phenomenon recently with someone – that problem when you think you are getting a healthy meal, but instead you are inadvertently adding to your waistline. It happens rather often because not everyone is educated about nutrition – some items sound so healthy, which is why looking more closely at what has gone INTO those items is crucial.
I’ve heard people say they are trying to lose a few pounds, but who can’t understand why, with all the hard work they put in at the gym, that they aren’t seeing results. There could be a very simple reason, and it may very well be nutrition.
In my own mind, I kind of like that the recommendation from the medical field(s) at large is NOT “you need spend two hours a day at the gym” – I mean, who has that kind of time?! I’d RATHER hear “you need to focus on, and make better nutritional choices” more so, because that feels more achievable.
Now that doesn’t mean “easy” necessarily, but it does mean that we can manage the change. The tweaks we make to our daily food intake don’t always have to be monumental in order that we see monumental results. It could be as easy as switching to a low-fat milk, instead of whole (which adults don’t really need, by the way), or asking for dressing on the side and just dipping your fork before snatching up your mouthful of salad.
But it may also be that you just need to be AWARE of what you are having, because inevitably there is room to adjust, giving you a higher chance of success in the weight loss endeavor. You may not even realize there are culprits working against you, until you take a step back.
Salads are a GREAT example. Ordering the salad is the healthy option, right?
Uh…Not so fast…!
There are countless salad fixins and toppers that may be packing a very serious caloric punch…one you aren’t even aware of. There are a ton of articles on the very topic, because it happens frequently. Sometimes that protein source is encrusted with highly caloric ingredients (tuna caked with sesame seeds, chicken encrusted with pecans etc…) Then there are add-ins like shredded cheese, bacon bits, carb-heavy croutons (that have no other real nutritional value, frankly!) What you thought was a great option may add up to our entire daily intake! NIGHTMARE!
So, what can you do?
- Ask for lean…and CLEAN…sources of protein. Yes, you can ask plain grilled chicken! If that’s not your thing, ask about grilled shrimp, chopped hard boiled egg, or plain grilled fish (without oil and marinade, please!)
- Have the kitchen hold some of those calorie-boasting bad guys, such as bacon, cheese, candied nuts, fatty meats like ham, dried fruit…
- Ask for your dressing on the side! You will have much better control over how much you use – keep in mind a serving is generally 1 or 2 tablespoons only. Often they provide half a cup or more!
- You can always ask for extra veggies to add volume with out going crazy with calories. Cucumbers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, even onion in moderation (sometimes those are too much because they are raw.)
Salads don’t have to be boring, but it is also important that they aren’t considered “healthy” by default – if we care about our weight, or even just our internal health and mechanics, we do have to be mindful of this trap. Many salads come dripping with oil and fatty dressings, as well as calorie-dense toss-ins. You can absolutely control what the salad comes with, and you aren’t going to stand out by asking – people ask all the time! You are buying the meal so…you are allowed!
It’s an easy trap to fall into – how bad can lettuce be for you really? Well, as you see above, the base of the meal may not always the problem – it’s everything else that gets tossed in WITH it. The kitchen sink is probably not so great for you either, as it turns out! 😉
I’ve got a couple of examples of my salad options here…