Some people think they need to eat a salad with just greens and a few veggies to stay under their caloric number for the day. But what about when hunger pangs strike and you find yourself reaching for an unhealthy, quick snack that will ruin your dieting attempts? This is where your meal portions and the ingredients that you choose to add into your salad are key to diet survival.
What Should You Include in Your Salad?
When you’re preparing your salad lunches, it’s recommended that you include ingredients that have fiber, protein and healthy fats to keep you feeling full longer without reaching for extra snacks or experiencing cravings before your next meal .
Start by looking at what you are using for the base of your salads. Both spinach and kale have significantly more fiber than lettuce does, which, in turn, will leave you feeling full longer . Not to mention, having these super greens (or even a handful of them mixed into a partial lettuce base) will add to your fiber intake, helping you feel full longer.
Next, why not add a little protein into your salad, such as chicken or a sliced hardboiled egg, to top it off? You can also find lots of fiber in other salad ingredients like kale, carrots, broccoli, seeds, beans or legumes, berries, pears, apples, squash or even sweet potatoes [1; 3].
Some salad options like avocado, quinoa, lentils, nuts and seeds are packed with a combination of fiber, healthy fats and protein, offering you an even bigger boost to help keep you feeling full longer . Including fiber, healthy fats and protein-rich foods in your lunch salad is a far better option than the candy bowl at the reception desk, which is a hard one to turn down when you are starving.
Too Much Work?
Eating a salad at least once a day is a recipe for healthy habits, so why not make the salad fabulous and fresh? You are probably thinking you are going to have to chop and cut every single night to maintain the fresh taste until your lunch break, but it really doesn’t need to be that complicated.
One day a week, get all of your containers ready to go and wash and dry the leafy greens, fruit and veggies completely before adding them to the container. When you dry them properly, their chance of staying crisp longer goes up. Keep your dressing completely separate until you are ready to eat the salad, so it does not get soggy! Veggies, leafy greens and fruits are pretty resilient for about a week, so don’t let them sit much longer than that, for optimal freshness.
You can also add a cold protein like turkey or chicken, which will keep for up to 4 days, so take advantage of cooking some in advance to add that extra fuel throughout the week. You could also plan to make extra protein alongside your dinner during the week for a change of flavor. Try to use up whatever protein you have left over from dinner, or any produce you have on hand plus some seed and nuts that you can keep stocked in your pantry.
If you happen to go out for dinner, or you don’t have leftovers to use, keep some canned beans or chickpeas on hand. If you don’t use the whole can, portion out the remainder into containers or bags and freeze them for later salads if you aren’t using them right away. And if you are really busy and running short of lunch salad prep time, try using a rotisserie chicken that you can easily use for this week’s salads (and next week’s too, if you freeze the leftovers). You’ll have instant meals for the week and beyond! Just a little bit of advanced preparation can make meal planning and creation during your diet easier than choosing high-calorie take-out foods for your mid-day meal.
Where Can I Get Lunch Salad Inspiration?
If you are struggling for ideas and starting to feel like every lunch salad is starting to taste the same, consider looking up some new recipes, or joining an online community dedicated to lunch preparation that will offer advice, inspiration and motivation! Nutritionists, health coaches and bloggers like Sweet Peas and Saffron offer these supports to their readers at no cost . They will help you stay motivated and on track while you work toward losing weight.
Punch up the Flavor!
Finally, remember to get creative with your salad dressings for an extra punch of flavor without adding to the meal’s calories! Generally, it is suggested that homemade oil-based salad dressings can last up to 2 weeks when refrigerated . When having salad regularly in your weight loss journey, you will use lots of dressing. Once every two weeks, make a few favorite dressings when you’re doing your weekly lunch preparation, and then simply rotate these for your salad-eating enjoyment throughout the week.
Remember to use the dressing on your salad sparingly! Usually for a meal-sized salad you won’t need more than 2 tablespoons of dressing. Just pour your dressing on once lunchtime arrives and toss the salad thoroughly (or shake it in a closed salad container). You will soon see that a little bit of flavor and a handful of calories will go a long way and also help support your weight loss.
Check out the recipe below for a satisfying and tasty dressing to add to your salad!back to menu ↑
Creamy Avocado Vinaigrette Dressing
Yields: 1 Cup of Dressing
- 1 ripe avocado
- ¼ cup of White Wine Vinegar
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- ¾ cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- In a food processor: combine the avocado, lemon juice, salt, pepper and white wine vinegar. Process until very smooth and creamy.
- Slowly add in your olive oil to the consistency you prefer.
- Enjoy on your salad!