I first started seeing a dietitian in late 2017. At the time, I was the heaviest I've ever been at about 210 lbs. At the first appointment, my dietitian asked me to record what I ate in a food diary so she could better understand my habits and give me better direction in changing my lifestyle. I did exactly that and returned a week later, diary in hand. After a cursory glance at the pages, she first remarked at how few fruits and vegetables I ate. Deep down I had already known that, but what I didn't know then was that I was far from being alone in that respect. According to a Times article, about 90 percent of Americans don't consume enough fruits and vegetables to meet current dietary guidelines. It's hardly rocket science as to why that is — many of our diets consist mainly of carbs and non-planted based protein. This isn't to say that carbs and protein are the devils; they're both parts of a balanced diet. However, vegetables and fruit are also part of a balanced diet — a part that often gets neglected. So, when I see people on Instagram eating salad for breakfast, I think to myself "It's about time!"
Not every salad is created equal, though (I'm looking at you, Caesar). If your salads consist solely of iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion, shredded cheese, and a ton of dressing, then I'm sorry to say that it misses the mark when it comes to making a balanced meal. There isn't anything wrong with those ingredients, but a salad needs to be a little more substantial to measure up. A good example of a balanced breakfast salad would be this Sweet and Savory breakfast salad made with mixed greens, avocado, chopped baked sweet potatoes, berries, hemp hearts, nuts, and hummus topped with lemon juice. It's got plant-based carbs, protein, fiber, and tons of antioxidants — what's not to love?
If you're a big fan of eating out, it's also important to note that many salads at restaurants can be worse for you than you think. Often, they're just an amalgamation of different unhealthy ingredients on a bed of lettuce. A prime example of this is Applebee's Oriental Crispy Chicken Salad which tops out at around 1400 calories. Along with the obviously carbohydrate-dense fried chicken is the crispy fried noodles, with heaps of dressing to boot! At that point, I may as well eat McDonald's because that's only 500 calories less than my daily energy expenditure. This is all to say that it's always important to look at nutritional information when you go out to eat — look beyond the bed of lettuce!
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what time of the day you eat your vegetables, or if you get them from a salad or not. What's important is making sure you get the right amount of nutrients for your body to thrive, regardless of whether it's at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Eat more salads and be well!