The salad bar can either take you down or be a saving grace for those who are trying to eat healthy. Many ingredients at the average salad bar are like uninvited guests that just showed up to a party and stayed. Interestingly enough, people are more excited about those ingredients than the healthy ingredients, which should comprise a nutritious salad.
Prepping meals during your cleanse can become tiresome, so people either stop eating, cheat on the diet, seek out raw restaurants (bravo!), or find a restaurant that is healthy enough but not cleanse-approved. Depending on where you live, finding a raw food restaurant can prove difficult, so a salad bar at a grocery store or restaurant becomes the most convenient, second-best option. Most supermarkets, delis, or airports have salad bars, which means they are not hard to find. Did you hear that, cleansers? They are not hard to find!
Is A Salad Bar A Healthy Choice?
Yes, if you know how to navigate the salad bar and select the best choices. No, if you are piling shredded cheese, bacon bits, croutons, deli meats, tofu, eggs, and creamy dressings on your plate. Adding those “no no” salad bar options to your salad increases your intake of sodium, cholesterol, processed ingredients, and unhealthy fats, all of which you are trying to avoid while cleansing.
In order to help you make more educated, cleanse-worthy decisions at the salad bar, here are a few simple guidelines to follow.
#1: Dark Leafy Greens Are Best
Never go for the Iceberg lettuce. The nutritional value is much lower than spinach, kale, spring mixed greens, arugula, or even romaine lettuce. The darker the salad green, the more nutrient-dense it is. All of the greens are low in calories, but the darker greens contain higher concentrations of iron, folate, vitamin C, and lutein and zeaxanthanin, both of which encourage healthy eyesight.
#2: Always Choose More Vegetables
Some salad bars may have several fruit varieties, but that isn’t an open invitation to pile all the fruit on your plate with a few greens on the side. A spoonful of fresh strawberries or several apple slices can richen the flavor profile, but you don’t want to overload on fruit sugars when making a salad. Instead, it is wise to mix up your colors, flavors, and textures with vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, sprouts, broccoli, onions, bell peppers, cucumbers, and the list goes on.
#3: Eat Balanced
We are almost certain that you are tired of hearing the words, “Eat a balanced diet.” Well…too bad! No matter what meal you are eating, the goal should always be to balance your meals.
- Add Healthy Fats: Depending on the salad bar you visit, your healthy fat options may be limited. If they have avocado, that is one of the best sources of healthy fats, but you can also choose raw walnuts, chia seeds, raw Brussels sprouts, or flaxseeds.
- Add Protein: Your protein is primarily going to come from your salad base, i.e. lettuces, kale, spinach, mixed greens, or arugula. You can enhance your protein intake by adding alfalfa sprouts, watercress, raw mushrooms, raw cauliflower, or raw broccoli.
#4: The Cheese Dilemma
People love to eat cheese; there’s no two ways about it. When you are cleansing and you see those cheese options at a salad bar, willpower and restraint are the only things that are preventing you from devouring them like a rabid wolf. keep. Most of the cheese is highly processed anyway, so do you really want to cheat with some stale-looking cheeses? Think before you reach for the cheese.
#5: Add-ons Will Destroy You
Don’t sabotage your dietary efforts by putting bacon bits, processed croutons, noodles, or canned fruits on your salads. Those are the ingredients that take you down and keep you from coming back to the surface that is your raw foods diet.
#6: Dressings Are The Worst
While each salad bar will have different dressings, it’s safe to assume that most of those dressings contain poor quality oil, unhealthy fats, sugars, and other ingredients that you shouldn’t have while cleansing. Even that balsamic vinaigrette at the salad bar is not as healthy as you think it is. If you are at Whole Foods, for instance, they may have better dressings that are available. The best cleanse approved option would be to use the olive oil on the side and ask for fresh lemon wedges to squeeze on the salad. If all else fails, your best option is to choose the olive oil and vinegar to dress your salad. Let that vinegar be your only slip up at the salad bar.