Salads are typically the first thing you might want to include in your diet if you plan to shed off pounds. As nutritious and beneficial they may be, your hearty bowl of salad can also be detrimental to your weight loss efforts. Here are eight ways your salad might be causing weight gain or bloat.
Your Salad Dressing
You already know that drenching your veggies in salad dressing is counterproductive to your diet but it turns out that quality is just as important as quantity. When choosing condiments and dressings, look out for the amount of oil, salt, and sugar as these are all ingredients that can cause bloat and excess calories. Restaurants tend to serve creamy and delicious dressings, which are signs of high-fat content, so opt to swap dressings or request for it to be served on the side instead.
When it comes to homemade salads, you can always use freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice, which may stimulate digestive enzymes and function to ‘de-bloat’ your tummy. There are many healthy DIY dressing recipes available, so you don’t have to constantly eat dry greens!
Too Much Cheese
Cheese can go really well with salads and is packed with calcium and protein. However, cheese can also be a major culprit of hidden calories and fat. It can be so easy to overdo your cheese topping, especially when you are eating out. You don’t have to give up cheese though. Instead, you can opt for grated varieties like Parmesan, which can be more evenly distributed throughout your salad. Low-fat mozzarella or feta cheese can also be good options. Although feta is a little high on sodium, it is lower in fat compared to other varieties and boasts more flavour (so you can reduce the quantity).
You’re A Crouton Fan
There is no denying that croutons can add crunch and flavour to your salad. However, these sneaky little topping is usually fried, so there is plenty of extra fat in there. Even if they are baked croutons, they can still add unnecessary carbs into your meal. The same goes for fried wontons or crispy sesame sticks.
If you still yearn for added crunchy texture, you can always opt for healthier alternatives such as dried soy nuts, or break a multigrain cracker and toss into your salad bowl. This way, you will be using much less than a serving size while keeping within your calorie count and still enjoying a little salty crunch.
Excessive Raw Veggies
In their raw state, uncooked vegetables are loaded with nutrients, particularly fibre. And while fibre is great for the gut, not everyone can tolerate substantial amounts at a time. In fact, too much in one sitting can inhibit your digestive tract flow, and this can lead to bloating. Before you toss all your vegetables in the bowl, consider lightly steaming or roasting some of them. This can break down some of the fibres so that they are much easier on your digestive system. Having spinach in your salad bowl is also great as this veggie is soft, easy to digest, and can help to bulk the stool and hence, de-bloat you due to its high water content.
Sprinkling your salad with a variety of toppings may help you to down your greens better, but it can also cause several issues. Nuts and dried fruit, when taken in large amounts, can cause major bloating due to the salt and sugar present respectively. Salt can make you puffy and retain water while sugar can promote unfavourable bacteria growth, which leads to gas. Wherever possible, choose raw and unsalted nuts so you can reap the most nutrient benefits. Instead of dried fruit, you can pair your salads with fresh papaya, which is packed with a digestive-supporting enzyme called papain.
Pulses and legumes are a great way to fill up on your protein, iron, and fibre intake. However, having too much can be quite tricky for your tummy, especially if it’s the canned variety. For instance, canned beans can cause major bloating due to its high content of raffinose, which is a sugar that our bodies struggle to break down.
With that said, you don’t have to ditch your black beans or chickpeas entirely. Just soak and cook them instead of having them from the can. Cooked beans not only taste better, but they are also more nutritious and generally do not incite more gas than the canned version. Soaking your legumes at home can also ‘predigest’ some of the raffinose, which makes it more gut-friendly.
Lack Of Protein
Protein can really help in making you feel fuller and satiated for longer, so having it in your salads will reduce the chances of wild mid-afternoon cravings. Don’t eat your salads without some tuna, beef, chicken, or tofu, which can support you in attaining your ideal waistline.
A Huge Portion
Moderation is key, even for salads. While it’s not wrong to pile ingredients and variety into your salad bowl, you should still be mindful of the calories in it. A serving of raw vegetables is roughly twice or thrice more than a similar portion of cooked vegetables, and a portion of salad is generally about one to two cups. Keep all your portions and measurements in mind so you won’t end up busting the day’s calories.