Have you ever ordered a salad at a restaurant with the intention of staying on track only to find that your food journal app says it is 1,200 calories and 60 grams of fat? Or perhaps you have ordered a Caesar salad before and could not eat it because there was so much dressing on the lettuce? If so, you are definitely not alone.
Most dressings are up to 200 calories per two tablespoons. On that Caesar salad that I mentioned, there might be upwards of 1/3 cup of dressing (or 500 calories) added. Surprisingly, the number of calories between a ranch dressing and an Italian dressing do not differ greatly. To reduce calories it is best to choose a light dressing, but avoid fat-free dressings. When the fat is removed sugar is typically added to boost flavor.
To keep dressing calories to a minimum order the dressing on the side. Another trick is to dip your fork into the dressing first and then spear the lettuce and salad items. Some folks like to put the dressing in their salad bowl first (measuring the amount used) and then make the salad on top of the dressing, stir and presto, a perfectly dressed salad. One last trick is to put spices on the vegetables, which provide a lot of flavor.
The dressing on a salad should just enhance the already beautiful flavors of its fruits and vegetables. Too much of anything, especially dressing, is not good.
By Molly McBrayer, clinical manager, Roper St. Francis Bariatrics & Metabolic Services