The Case Against Salads


If you are a client of mine or know me personally, you already know that I dislike salads. If you’re new around here, hi – I despise salads. People are sometimes shocked to hear this (likely because I’m a Health Coach and all), but I promise you I have a pretty good case against these green, cruciferous thieves of joy. I also used to be a lawyer so I’m like, fairly good at arguing.

Here’s the thing about salads. It’s not really the salads themselves (well, sometimes), it’s this idea that we have some moral obligation to eat them day in and day out and no one really finds them all that satisfying. There are those people (my MIL) who swear they are rabbits and could eat salads day in and day out (hey, go for it – no one is stopping you). Think about it – anytime you are on a “diet” or want to feel better about yourself, you order or make a salad – a bowl filled with sad veggies and a low-cal dressing (but only a little!). You’re not doing it because you actually want a salad – you are doing it out of some kind of “diety” idea that you want to be healthy and are going to lose weight because you ate a salad. And this, my friends, is why they are my mortal enemy.

Before I get myself into a tizzy, I want to clarify what I mean by “a salad.” I’m talking about the standard American “salad” of veggies only (or veggies only plus a tiny bit of protein). This is what we eat when we want to feel good about ourselves. In our heads, vegetables are good and healthy because they have little caloric value and thus result in us eating less calories (read: weight loss). The problem with structuring salads in this way is two-fold: (1) the lack of calories (from inadequate protein and fat) means you’ll be hungry in two hours because you didn’t support your blood sugar and your body tore through the tiny amount of energy in the salad (hi 3pm lethargy and sugar cravings); and (2) your soul hurts because your meal wasn’t satisfying. Now, sure maybe you feel great about yourself for a little bit because you feel as though you toughed it out and got a “win,” but this can only go on for so long before you get sick of eating this way.

Can I make another suggestion (before you get all cancel culture on me)? What if your lunch looked different and was still healthy and nutritious? What if you structured your meal with enough protein, fat & fiber to stabilize your blood sugar and get you through until dinner without a crash? What would it feel like if you weren’t STARVING for dinner and having an Olympic-level willpower struggle to not eat everything in your pantry after work?

Doesn’t this look better than a salad??!

Let me make a suggestion. For the next week or two, try to re-frame your thinking about lunch and try to branch out from salads. I chose lunch because I think this is where most people “feel” as though they need to eat a weak-ass salad during the day. Recently, my favorite lunch menu items are egg, spinach, cheese & avocado quesadillas. There are literally so many great wrap options out there now – this one from Siete is usually available at Walmart. And let’s be honest, wraps are SO MUCH more satisfying than salads (unless you’re my rabbit MIL). You know what else is great for lunch but has been deemed a “bad” salad by health “experts?” Chicken salad, tuna salad, even egg salad! Here’s the thing – these can be wonderfully healthy, satisfying options for lunch if done right. There are so many companies making traditional mayo alternatives with avocado oil (like Primal Kitchen and Sir Kensington’s). It’s a win win! If you like to live on the edge, you can try this basic structure: Protein (chicken, tuna, egg), veggie mass (go tradish with celery & green onion or grab some broccoli slaw from the store and chop it up for some variety), nuts (almonds or pistachios are amazing) and mayo. You can add fresh herbs (rosemary goes great with chicken) and/or lemon zest. Want more greens? Put the “bad” salad on top of your greens and have at it! The point is – the fat and protein in the salad will satisfy you, sustain you, and stabilize your blood sugar for hours. The result? You won’t be hungry in 2 hours!

Ok, real talk here. I don’t actually hate salads. I wanted to make my point first, but I value salads on some level. But when I eat a salad? Let me tell you – it’s a SALAD. The only exception to this rule is that I do enjoy a pre-dinner veggie-only salad from a select few local restaurants (Helen’s House Salad @ Valozzi’s, for example). For years I actually felt bad eating the type of salads that I truly enjoyed! My salads absolutely MUST have protein & avocado on them. I’ll often add chickpeas and (gasp!) bacon. If you have never had a chicken bacon ranch salad (with avocado & hardboiled egg) I just don’t know what to do with you. Another thing – did you know that salads can be warm?! Oh goodness, yes. Go for a bed of quinoa or whatever starch you prefer & go from there. Toss some roasted sweet potatoes or carrots on there, too while you’re at it. In fact, hell – roast all of your veggies and toss them over your starch and bed of greens. What about dressing, you say? I do prefer to make my own (get yourself one of these puppies) and keep it in the fridge. My favorite recipe comes from Quicker than Quick but I’ve got to tell you lately I’ve been doing Ume Plum Vinegar only. If you’ve never had it, Ume plum vinegar is salty and vinegar-y & delicious.

Let’s summarize. I don’t actually “dislike” salads. True, I almost always choose something else to eat over a salad, but I realize they do have their place in this world when done right. My main point here is to challenge your thinking – are you eating bare bones salads for lunch out of some punishment or moral obligation or notion that you need to restrict calories? These negative attitudes around food stand in the way of us healing from our food issues. By challenging the thoughts and perspectives that keep you stuck, you’ll start to see your goals coming into view. So, maybe this week you try something new. Why not? You are always welcome to join me on the anti-salad train – there’s plenty of room.