Q: I’m eating a lot of salads, why don’t I lose weight?
– Sarah in Cincinnati
A: Crispy greens, crunchy carrots, and luscious winter pears are a weight-watcher’s dream. But it also can contain more fat and calories than four double-cheeseburgers. Salad dressing is the number one source of fat in women’s diets, according to a national nutrition survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which attests to the confusion over what is really a healthful salad and what is a fat-laden disaster. A lunchtime salad can packed in almost 2,000 calories and 50% of those were fat. Here’s how to avoid that food trap: Heap your plate with greens, the greener the better. Which means iceberg lettuce is the nutritional equivalent of water, while spinach is a nutrient goldmine. Other “freebies” include: grated carrots, mushrooms, raw broccoli flowerbeds, alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes, radicchio lettuce, purple cabbage, cucumber, and sweet red pepper. Avoid the high-fat items, such as avocados slices and olives. To boost protein and iron while curbing appetite, add 1 /2 cup of beans or 3 ounces of grilled chicken or turkey breast, but skip the salami, ham and pepperoni, which contain up to 60% fat calories. Avoid anything mixed with oil, mayonnaise, cheese, or whipped cream, including potato or pasta salads, tuna mixed with mayonnaise, egg salad, macaroni and cheese, tartar sauce, beef and cheese in a Mexican salad, and Waldorf salad. One small ladle of most salad dressings contains 4 teaspoons of fat and 170 calories. Instead, choose low-calorie and fat-free dressings. Select watery versions, such as oil and vinegar, they spread more evenly over the salad compared to the thicker Ranch or Thousand Island dressings. Better yet, portion out a 1 /2 to 1 scoop serving into a separate container and lightly dip your fork into the low-calorie dressing first and then into the salad. Remember, losing weight requires developing a healthy eating style you can live with for the rest of your life. Salads are only one part of that menu, which also should include nonfat milk products, lean meat, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and other fresh fruits and vegetables. -Elizabeth Somer