Just because you’re going up to the salad bar and eschewing the fatty meals at a restaurant is no certain guarantee of dietary success. There is, in fact, a salad bar plan of attack that should be followed to make sure you leave the restaurant having taken in fewer calories and less fat than your friend who ordered the big, juicy steak.
Tip Number 1
Don’t be a lemming! Just because everybody else is starting at one end and making their way down the salad bar doesn’t mean you have to. To truly take advantage of a nice salad bar-the kind with at least thirty different items from to which choose-is to approach the bar as if you were a spy. The food isn’t your enemy, of course; the restaurant is. The restaurant has spent a lot of money figuring out how best to utilize its salad bar as a means for profit. The idea is to get you to fill up on the food that costs them the least. But the food that costs them the least may not be the healthiest or even the tastiest. Approach the salad bar carefully and take your time. Survey all the offerings. If it’s a buffet style restaurant like the Golden Corral this could take some time, but it’s worth it.
Tip Number 2
Single out the food you really want. You may be at the salad bar because you want to lose weight, but if you load up with lettuce that you don’t like you are only delaying the inevitable. You know eventually you’ll make a second trip to get what you really do want. So after surveying what’s available on the salad bar, decide on what you would consider to be your main course, your primary side dish, your secondary side dish and so on. Do NOT put anything on your plate until you have decided every single item that is going to be there. Once you’ve decided, then load up as you would if you were ordering them. In other words, let’s say the salad bar contains the makings for a Mexican salad with seasoned ground beef, tortillas, cheese, lettuce and so. That would be your main course. A fruit medley is your primary side dish. Steamed rice is your third. Well, what would you want to see brought to you by a server if you ordered this somewhat unusual meal? Would you want it to be 90% Mexican salad, 5% fruit and 5% rice? If so, then that’s what you help yourself to. If not, then adjust accordingly.
Tip Number 3
If you are hitting the salad bar specifically and only for the greens and other veggies in an attempt to be diet-conscious and healthy, then stick with the plan. Too many people think because it’s called a salad bar that they can eat with impunity and not expect to leave with several hundred new calories attached. It doesn’t work that way. Load up on lettuce, radishes, onions, peppers, jalapenos, tomatoes and all that other good stuff. Then, when you get to the section where all the dressings are either turn away and leave or use your head. Before you get to the dressing section your meal may very well be under 200 calories. It doesn’t take more than a few bits of cheese laid across the top of it, or a dousing of Bleu Cheese dressing, or a heavy sprinkling of bacon bits to double that. Then you see the pasta salad or the cole slaw and you take a helping of that. Next thing you know, your quite filling 200 calorie salad now stands at a whopping 800 calories. Also be sure to avoid any kind of fish or poultry salad as it probably has so much mayonnaise in it that just taking a small helping will put you over 1,000 calories. And you thought the salad bar was carte blanche to go hog wild!