If you’re on a diet, you probably think you’re doing your body a favor by eating your greens, but did you know that some of these unhealthy salads are so fat-packed and calorie-laden, you might as well be eating a cheeseburger, or worse, a cheeseburger with bacon? Rather than naming specific salads at particular restaurants, I thought it would be more helpful to help you identify unhealthy salads by their tell-tale ingredients. Here are the unhealthiest ingredients that will ruin your perfectly healthy salad. Put down your fork, and let’s take a closer look at your salad!
1. Meat That’s Battered or Fried
It’s an excellent idea to add lean protein to your salad, turning it from a side dish to a full-fledged meal. But adding battered and fried chicken or fish can turn your diet-friendly plate of greens into one of the worst unhealthy salads, one that contains more calories and more fat than a Whopper. No lie. If your salad contains anything battered and/or fried, either order it without, or avoid it altogether.
2. Fattening Dressing or Mayo
There’s another wicked way your salad can go from nutrient-packed but low-cal to downright unhealthy — the dressing or mayo on it or in it. Bleu cheese and ranch dressings are the biggest calorie and fat offenders on the salad dressing list. And if your otherwise healthy tuna salad is mucky with mayo, you might want to pass on that, too.
3. Loads of Cheese Crumbles
This makes me want to cry a little — cheese is another salad topping that can add unnecessary calories, most of them from fat. But there is a solution. Just swap the full-fat cheese with a low-fat (2% or skim milk) alternative. Take it from me, a confessed cheeseaholic — 2% milk cheddar is just as tasty as its full-fat counterpart when shredded on a salad.
4. Sugar-coated Dried Fruits
Adding fresh or dried fruits to a salad is a great way to add antioxidants and fiber (and flavor), but be careful. Some salads come topped with sugar-coated dried fruits (like raisins or cherries) and others have candied fruits (like Mandarin oranges), which again can turn your healthy greens into an unhealthy, diet-wrecking salad.
5. Candied Nuts
Just like adding sugar-coated fruits to your salad can ruin it by adding extra calories, so can adding yoghurt-covered or candy-coated nuts. Walnuts? Sure. Almonds? Absolutely. Cashews? Why not… but don’t add them if they’re coated with anything other than a light dusting of sea salt.
6. Too Many Noodles or Croutons
If your salad is missing crunch, opt for carrots or purple cabbage shreds rather than croutons or crunchy noodles, since the latter will only add calories from fat. I know they’re tasty, but is it really worth ruining your healthy salad with these sneaky little calorie monsters?
7. Bacon and Eggs
I almost fell over when I saw a salad at my favorite café topped with bacon chunks and hard-boiled eggs. The eggs are okay, since they’re actually a great source of protein and other nutrients… but the bacon? Add that, with croutons, ranch dressing, and fried chicken, and you have a popular salad at a famous chain restaurant — and more calories and fat than that Whopper, again. Yikes!
Now the next time you’re ordering a salad, you can check the ingredients to make sure it’s diet-friendly, not a fattening meal in disguise! Some of these toppings and add-ins are pretty sneaky, but now you know how to find them out. Ha! Take that, unhealthy salads! Which of these toppings is your salad undoing? Or is there another ridiculously fattening salad you’ve seen? Do tell!