A Calorie is Not Just a Calorie.
In a society where the growing trend is to be healthy and eat right, there is a lot of confusion around what is actually healthy for you, and what seems healthy for you.
For some people, the rule of thumb is to have a salad for lunch, but is that really better for you? Most people turn to salads due to the perception of them being low in calories. Although this may seem like it’s the right answer, do you ever wonder about the salad dressing and toppings you are consuming?
On average, one serving of Cesar salad dressing contains 250 Calories - which actually isn't that much. So you think: "Great! I haven’t consumed many calories!". But what exactly are you putting into your body, what are those calories composed of?
250 calories is probably equivalent to the amount that you might find in a couple of fruits, however, those fruits contain vitamins, natural sugars and important nutrients that your body needs to function. The salad dressing contains ingredients which are doing more harm than good without bringing in the vitamins and nutrients your body would get from the fruit. So here you are at a major loss.
The same is true for toppings. Croutons alone contain all of the following; flour, canola and/or olive oil, whole wheat flour, sugar, rice flour, yeast, garlic powder, Romano cheese, parsley, onion powder, yeast extract, natural flavour, spices, ascorbic acid, soybean oil, and partially hydrogenated soybean oil.
From this exhaustive list, how many of these ingredients would you expect to be found in your pantry or refrigerator at home? Maybe the oil, cheese, sugar, flour and parsley. What about the yeast extract and natural flavour? Many people do not know what these ingredients are and how harmful they can be to you! A good rule of thumb: If you don't know what it is, why would you eat it? Reminder...this is just the croutons (I am getting to the dressing!). Most of the time these toppings are overlooked because there are just a few, but nonetheless they are still harmful to your body and their impact should be taken into consideration.
The salad dressing contains ingredients (see list below) that I cannot even define, such as: lipase, cellulose, microbial enzymes, calcium chloride...what do they even mean? Again, the rule of thumb which I live by is: If you don’t know what it is, why would you eat it?
In a society where it is common to be working round the clock, we often end up eating out, and may not think we have the time to make a proper meal for ourselves. It can also get exhausting to have to read food labels, which is understandable. But something as simple as a salad dressing can be made in minutes, while maintaining a high level of quality and great flavour.
Olive oil and balsamic / red wine vinegar mixed with a bit of Dijon mustard can make a creamy light dressing which is both healthy and filling. Top that on a bed of baby spinach and some feta cheese, and you have a nice light salad which can be prepared in less than 10 minutes! Not only will you save money, but you are avoiding feeding your body with empty calories. In addition, you will be consuming high amounts of protein from the cheese (which will keep you full for longer) and are also providing your body with a lot of vitamins from the spinach leaves. (If you don’t like spinach, add a green spring mix which has more vitamins than iceberg or romaine lettuce - which are more water-based than nutrient-dense).
The self-made dressing may contain more calories, but your body can break down those calories a lot easier than food which has been heavily processed – like the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, etc. Also notice that in the dressing described above there are 0 carbs and only 3 ingredients– versus the average Cesar dressing which contains 14g of carbs and 9 ingredients! (Stay tuned for postings on which carbs are harmful and why protein and healthy fats are a better choice.)
It is important to understand that when you are feeding your body with empty calories you will not be satisfied (you will get hungry sooner) and it won’t be too helpful when you are sick and your body doesn’t have the capacity to fight off the common cold due to the lack of vitamins/nutrients.
Eating a higher-calorie meal might be beneficial in the long run and it’s important to stay informed and maintain quality versus quantity of calories.
Check out these other Articles by Melissa!
5-Step Guide to Making Healthy Choices
The Natural Nut; Natural Peanut Butter / Almond butter
4 Simple Steps to Becoming a Cleaner-Eater!
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