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Why your Lunch Salad is killing your Diet

At least daily I have the conversation about the lunch salad.

You know, the daily lunch salad that comes from the local cafe or restaurant, the one we eat with just some grilled chicken on top, the same salad that is killing your diet…

I know it is hard to believe but that salad can be equivalent in calories to a burger and fries-ok maybe just the burger not the fries- but here’s why.



A salad can be an excellent way to get your daily phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals.

These include fiber, folate, carotenoids, magnesium and potassium, iron, vitamin C…

And all this for minimal calories.


ARUGALA = 2 calories/cup

(AND Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Zinc and Copper, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Manganese.)

SPINACH = 5 calories/cup

(AND niacin and zinc, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese)

CARROTS = 45 calories/cup

(AND vitamin A (from beta-carotene),biotin, vitamin K, potassium and vitamin B6)

BEETS = 50 calories/cup

(AND folate,  manganese, potassium and copper, dietary fiber,magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron and vitamin B6.


Ok you get the idea but here is the thing. When you eat out your salad with come with extras including dressing, lots of dressing. And even if you are a dip your fork kind of salad eater keep this in mind..


1 TBS Ranch Dressing = 80 calories

1 TBS Balsamic Dressing = 70 calories

1/3rd cup Shredded Cheese 110 calories

A sprinkling of Nuts = 140-190 calories


Not to mention the butter on the grill 100 calories of butter for every 200 calories of chicken (3 oz)


The result is that your average salad can top out at close to 1000 calories-that’s 2/3rs of our daily calorie requirements.


Don’t believe me?

Veggie Grill Mediterranean Supergreen salad = 830 calories

CPK BBQ Chicken Salad = 950 calories (thats without the AVO)

Sweet Greens Pesto Portobello Salad = 775 calories

Compare to

Burger Lounge Paleo Burger = 680 calories


So what’s the fix?

Make lunchtime a priority and plan.

If you must eat out, check the menu before you go and and pick a healthy option. Don’t assume that the salad is the healthiest, lowest calorie item on the menu as is and don’t be afraid to make modifications.

Better yet pack and go.

Spend a few minutes to make your own salad in the morning or night before.

Keep your fridge stocked with pre-washed greens, baby tomatoes, pre-cooked beets, shredded carrots, rotisserie chicken, precooked grilled chicken, turkey or hard boiled eggs, tofu…

Make your own dressing. Some of my faves:

  1. Mix 2 tablespoons of hummus with half fresh-squeezed lemon juice and salt
  2. Mix 1 TBS soy sauce with same amount lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper
  3. Mix ¼ cup nonfat greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon ranch powder and 3 tbs lemon juice
  4. Mix ⅛ cup balsamic, ⅛ cup water, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp basil, pinch of salt and pepper, ¼ cup olive oil blend for thickness


You may not chose to eat out anyway, you may choose not to prep all the time but the next time you are wondering why you can’t lose weight despite your daily salad… this might explain why.

Dr. Adrienne Youdim

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