We think that eating at a salad bar automatically gives us a halo of healthy living but it isn’t necessarily true. Even when you eat an apparently healthy salad bowl filled to the brim with sliced fruits, chopped vegetables, and chia seeds dressed in extra virgin olive oil, you may still be eating well beyond the recommended daily calorie intake! You may also be piling on the sodium, fats and carbs into your salad – indeed, in stark contrast with your original purpose.
Suffice it to say that even when you’re dining out in a salad bar, you should still be aware of the mistakes that you may be making when choosing your food order. Keep in mind that you should also fight, so to speak, to keep on your halo of healthy eating.
Be Conscious of Your Safety
Few people are aware of the possible pathogens present in the food offered in a salad bar’s containers. This is a shame considering healthy eating should also equate to safe eating. After all, if you’re suffering from the effects of food poisoning due to your indulgence in a salad bar’s food, then you aren’t getting the full benefits from it.
So first things first: You have to be conscious about being safe while choosing from among the dozens of chopped vegetables, diced fruits, and other toppings on the food containers. A few things to keep in mind:
- Check that the staff members behind the counter are wearing sneeze guards, gloves and hairnets when handling the food at any stage. If you don’t see even a single one of these food safety measures in restaurants, then you should just walk out of the door.
- Check the foods are kept at appropriate temperatures, such as inside an open freezer or inside a warmer. You don’t want to eat stale and spoiled foods because these not only taste gross, these are actually gross with their possible bacteria growth. Just walk out the door if you aren’t sure about the salad bar restaurant’s food presentation methods.
- Observe the level of cleanliness in the salad bar, especially when the staff members refill the food containers. The staff members should clean as they go, as well as ensure that the premises are spotless.
- Use a napkin when handling the tongs since these have been handled countless of times by others.
Of course, you should always thoroughly wash your hands before eating even when you’re eating with utensils. This isn’t being obsessive about germs and stuff but it’s a commonsense approach to food safety, in and out of the home.
Make Healthier Choices
You may think that you’re in a salad bat so you can’t possibly make unhealthy food choices. But you can be wrong! You should adopt a more systematic and deliberate approach toward filling up your plate or bowl.
First, you should scan your options at the buffet. You don’t have to actually walk down beside the buffet counter without getting anything because it’s an inconsiderate behavior toward your fellow diners. You can survey your options from a few feet away or you can do your research, such as browsing the online menu and looking at photos.
Second, you must avoid piling on whatever appeals to your senses, whether it’s the bright colors of the carrots or the sweet aroma from the mangoes, on to your plate. You will find that such an approach can also lead to an unhealthy portions of otherwise healthy foods.
Third, keep in mind the sequence of choosing food ingredients to make your own customized healthy salad:
- Pick your choice in leafy greens, such as lettuce and herbs.
- Add your preferred vegetables, such as julienned carrots and cucumbers.
- Mix in your preferred protein sources, which can be deli meats, fish or poultry or vegetarian like beans.
- Go easy on the extras, such as the dressings and toppings, since these can quickly add to your total calorie count. It’s best to stick to the low-calorie, low-fat options like balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil –and even then, you should use moderate amounts only.
We also want to emphasize that not all leafy greens, vegetables, and protein sources are created equal. You should also consider their nutritional value including their number of calories. For example, we suggest choosing the greenest leafy greens like baby kale, spinach, and arugula instead of butter, iceberg, and Romaine lettuce; the darker the green color, the higher the nutritional value.
Do all of these reminders make you already dizzy from all the decisions that you have to make when eating out? Don’t be because life is too short to be worrying about healthy eating all the time so enjoy your food. Better yet, bring your family and friends to your favorite Salata restaurant so you can all start on the healthy eating plan!