Salad, the one thing most of us know we should eat more of but why do we always stop eating it? Lets examine why most of us end up ditching the salad and turn back to tempting treats.
The world of nutrition can be so full of contradictions that making the healthy choice can sometimes leave us bewildered. We decide to introduce salads to our diet but then what do we put on the salad to make it enjoyable?
I think I will go for a low fat dressing because fat is a killer, or maybe I will go for sugar free as sugar is deadly…but wait, now its aspartame or some other artificial sweetener in the dressing, isn’t that even worse?
Before you know it, you are so uncertain as to what constitutes healthy that you either eat a salad without any sort of garnish or you go back to what is familiar and easy which is eating crisps and biscuits.
What if we were to change our mindset?
The all or nothing approach in nutrition can be so stifling. If you have decided to sit down and eat a variety of raw lettuces and vegetables, then cut yourself some slack, add a dressing that you can enjoy to ensure that you want to sit down and eat a salad again.
My three main pieces of advice so you can enjoy your salad are as follows:
1)Don’t be a cheapskate
Yes you can make a salad pretty cheaply if you go for bargain basement tomatoes and iceberg lettuce but is there any taste off them, do they have a scent, will you want to eat them again? Anyone who has ever grown their own tomatoes or lettuce, knows that eating freshly picked local produce is a pleasure. To get the same product in the supermarkets can be hard.
So your venture into the world of Salads might fall at the first hurdle as little to no taste taste equals little enjoyment and before you know it you are back to old habits because salad doesn’t taste nice, right?
Next time you are in the supermarket, how about
- smelling the produce for an odor or some sign of life
- seeing is it fully ripe as that influences taste
- trying a lettuce that is multicoloured or even has a bit of soil attached to the base
- spending a little more on vine tomatoes that smell and taste good.
There are also local organic farms popping up all over the country providing some tasty produce. Green Earth Organics is one we have here in Galway who deliver direct to your house and the produce tastes great. The more you enjoy your food, the more likely you are to keep eating it. We all want to keep our household bills down but if we look at food as an investment in ourselves the decision to spend money on it seems solid.
2.Listen to Evolution
We have evolved with a need for sweet, salty and fatty foods.Our brain is largely composed of fat, it runs primarily on glucose and the body has a daily need for different salts. Look at fast food and you will see they often contain all three as its in our wiring to enjoy these things we keep coming back for more. Salt was once so important that Roman soldiers were actually paid a wage in salt, hence the word Salary.
Salt – Its so commonly available and over consumed that it’s been vilified and linked as a major cause of hypertension. Sodium itself, the main ingredient of table salt, has been shown to increase blood pressure by only 5-10 points. So if your BP is 120/80, sodium will have an effect for a few hours before returning to normal but will still keep your blood pressure well within acceptable levels. If your blood pressure is above 140/90, table salt may not be for you. Lo Salt is a good alternative as its a mix of Sodium & Potassium. Potassium typically lowers blood pressure so should cancel out the effect of the blood pressure raise from Sodium. Lo Salt is available in every major supermarket.
So, salt is essential and its tasty. Add salt or Lo Salt to your dinner or to your salad dressing to make it more enjoyable.
Fat -Most dressings are made with oil which is really liquid fat. A low fat dressing using oil as its main ingredient is not possible.Try and find one that is based in Olive Oil as its consistently considered a healthy choice for use in dressings or vinaigrettes.
Sugar-This is tougher to get around, after all sweet things are a delight to the palate. Would adding sugar to a dressing be a bad idea if it meant you ate salad instead of sweets? If you are at high risk of diabetes or heart disease then added sugar is the last thing you need. For everyone else, if it can help you transition away from junk food then do consider it. Remember its not all or nothing when it comes to healthy food choices.
Thankfully there is a workaround, a sugar substitute such as Xylitol available in all local health stores. Amazingly its good for your teeth, tastes sweet but also helps maintain blood sugar control: a key factor in weight control and a recommended alternative for diabetics.
3) Give your Palate a chance
If you have gone from eating chocolate bars and biscuits straight over to salads, chances are dinner now feels like a prison sentence.
I regularly hear people switching from Coke to Diet Coke and initially disliking the taste of Diet Coke. After a while, most people who try regular coke again find that it tastes overly sweet and syrupy. The drink didn’t change but the palate did and that change happened over time.
Allow your palate to recognise the natural sweetness in things and use tasty produce to facilitate that change. How about making your own dressing, this site here makes it very easy to start.
Its not about 100% healthy habits or an all or nothing approach. Its about making changes that stick, that you enjoy what you are eating and want to come back for more. Lets return to the logical centre.
Give yourself reasons to eat salad not reasons to avoid it.
What are your own personal food challenges, lettuce know how you overcame then? How about telling us in the comments section.