Often those seeing a dietitian predict the advice they will be getting before coming in. When they do come, a large number believe they are going to be told they need to eat a salad, every meal, for the rest of their lives. Many feel that it may be a good thing to be avoiding bread/pasta or rice too.
So, depending on our nutrition goal, how ‘healthy’ is a salad?
Yes, salads are a low calorie meal choice and when 3-4 different vegetables are included you are knocking off most of the vitamins and minerals that should be included in your diet.
However, I find without proper guidance replacing main meals with ONLY salads veg could ultimately backfire for many people’s weight loss goal.
By including only a salad at our main meals we are often left hungry soon after and this leads to a bigger mid meal and subsequent main meal and an increased total calorie intake.
The main elements of our food, which keep us satisfied, are protein and fibre.
There are ways to be savvy when making or buying salads - e.g. add protein such as nuts/chicken/beef/tuna/egg. However, as these ingredients tend to cost more they are often present in far lower quantities when buying from a café or restuarant.
Another option is to add carbohydrate such as quinoa/brown rice/buckwheat or legumes as a base. These carbohydrates contain fibre which will also contribute to feeling fuller for longer.
"But don’t salad veg contain fibre??" I hear you ask....
Yes vegetables do contain fibre, yet salad veg are often our lower fibre containing veg (garden salad ~1.5g dietary fibre as opposed to a slice of high fibre bread, almost double ( ~2.5-3g per slice).
Assuming most people use two slices of bread for a sandwich, you would be increasing fibre by ~300% when making a sandwich, providing we are making it from good quality bread (sourdough/grain/rye/wholemeal).
Therefore, unless the salads you are eating contain a significant amount of protein and/or carbohydrate element, a salad sandwich, made with high fibre bread could be more advantageous to keeping your hunger at bay as well as your entire calorie intake down.