You go crazy with the toppings
Quick service salad bars can be tempting with their endless array of toppings, so it’s easy to turn your fresh tossed salad into a chaotic jumble of flavors. To avoid extra calories and a grumbling tummy from too much variety, try to follow a theme. If you’re craving Mexican, choose fresh veggies like cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers; add black beans or grilled chicken for protein; top with a little bit of low-fat Mozzarella cheese or a few avocado chunks and drizzle with lemon juice. Your taste buds and stomach will thank you. Try these 12 healthy salad recipes that make lunch exciting again.
You can’t say “no” to croutons
Crunchy toppings like croutons, fried wontons, or crispy sesame sticks can quickly negate your healthy lunch intentions. “Those are all fried so you get a lot of extra fat there,” says Libby Mills, MS, RDN, LDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If you’re eating out, look for salad bars that offer dried soy nuts for that crunchy texture. Even better, bring your lunch and make our own healthier crunchies by baking off chunks of multigrain bread or strips of raw wonton wrappers in the oven until crispy. You can also break up snacks like Snack Factory pita chips (which are slightly lower in calories, fat, and carbs than other brands), Ritz Crisp and Thins (with flavors like bacon), or Pasta Chips from Vintage Italia (baked and flavorful) to toss on top; you’ll use much less than a serving size, so they won’t bust your calorie count and will deliver that salty crunch you crave. Quit making these other common mistakes that make you regain weight.
You pile on the nuts and fruit
Dried cranberries and nuts are a match made in salad heaven, but the combo isn’t such a dream for your waistline. “Dried fruit is one of those things people love to add to a salad, but if you don’t measure it, you can easily add several extra servings of fruit, which is a lot of sugar,” says Libby. The same goes for nuts like walnuts or almonds, which can push your fat intake over the edge. Be sure to measure out one serving of dried fruit and try coarsely chopping your nuts so you use less and still get texture and flavor with every bite. You can also try swapping out dried fruit for Bare Snacks’ coconut chips for a sweet taste with a punch of fiber and iron or Snack Factory’s fruit sticks. Check out these other 20 mistakes you make when picking produce.