Eat Healthy at the Salad Bar

Salad Bar
Photo by Phil Campbell via Flickr

You sit down at work when you realize that oops,you forgot to bring your lunch.  You’re trying to eat healthy, so when lunch rolls around you head over to the nearest salad buffet rather than eat fast food.  But did you know, that if you don’t choose wisely, you might end up with a lunch that is much higher in fat and calories then what you expected?  Some salads have been known to have more calories than a  hamburger and fries.

Salad bars not only supply healthy items like fresh vegetables, fruits and legumes, but they also contain high fat items such as bacon bits, coleslaw, cheese, potato salad, fried chow-mein noodles and pasta salad. Most people top off their salad with a few ladles of high fat salad dressing. If you’re eating at a salad buffet, you have to beware of food items high in sodium, fat and calories.

Tips For A Healthy Lunch
Nevertheless, the salad bar can be a place to have a healthy lunch. Just keep these tips in mind.

  1. Stay away from high fat items. Eat mainly fresh vegetables, fruits and legumes.
  2. Stay away from high sodium items. A lot of times salt or MSG is used to prepare certain selections.
  3. Avoid or limit the high fat salad dressing. A small ladle full of regular Italian, French or Blue Cheese dressing can  run you up to 150 calories, mostly from fat. However, most of us put more then one small ladle full. Instead, substitute olive oil, salsa, lemon juice, red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar on your salad.
  4. Stay away from prepared foods, such as, pasta salad, potato salad, three bean salad and marinated vegetables. Usually these items contain oil or mayonnaise. They can be high in calories, fat and/or sodium.
  5. Stay away from high fat hot foods.  Some salad bars offer hot foods, like macaroni and cheese, fried chicken and meatballs, which can be high in fat, sodium and calories. So, skip on those and if you need some extra protein add roasted chicken, turkey, beans or tofu instead.
  6. Eat only the vegetable broth based soups. The creamy or beef based soups tend to be higher in fat. All of the soups at the typical salad buffet tend to be high in sodium though, so limit the amount you have.
  7. Have fruit for dessert. Some salad bars offer ice cream and pastries that can be high in saturated fat. I would recommend having fruit instead.

So, the next time you head to the salad bar, make sure to fill up your plate with nutrient-rich leafy greens, tons of colorful vegetables, legumes and roasted chicken. And top if off with a healthy salad dressing. Now you are eating the healthy lunch that you were looking for!

Comments (4)

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  1. On the subject of the high sodium items….do you have examples?

  2. Talli van Sunder says:

    @Blondefabulous That is a great question! Most condiments contain a high level of sodium, such as, salad dressings, sauces and dips. Luncheon meats, bacon, sausage and ham can also be high in sodium. Also, the soups at the salad bar and the prepared hot foods will have a high sodium content. Salt will probably be added to these items during cooking. However, fresh vegetables and fruits are naturally low in sodium. That is another reason to fill up your salad plate with these wonderful items! 🙂

  3. Rosy says:

    Great Post and good information!!! When I was younger, I loaded my plate with alittle of everything, not good. After I left, I was miserable, too much sodium/sugar. Then, I realized that I am allergic to MSGs, so my trips to salads bars are limited, but if I do go I select all fresh produce. Dressing is either vinegar or lemon juice or on rare occasion (lite dressing). I’m not perfect, because I do take a piece of cheese bread (thank goodness the pieces aren’t too big)!

  4. M says:

    Great tips! Thank you!

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