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We’ve all heard the statistics: most people who diet fail. They give up. The weight comes back. Why? There are many theories, but one has to do with the power of habit. As Aristotle famously said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Research has shown that sticking to a diet is more important than the diet you choose. The problem is this: most diets are too strict or limiting and people give up before a habit can be formed. So why not make it simple? Why not choose something easy, delicious, fun, and filling? Consider this:
Eat one salad a day.
This doesn’t mean sad, store-bought, grab-and-go, eat-at-your-desk salad. And it certainly doesn’t mean diet-fanatical, want-to-get-skinny, #bikiniprep starvation salads. Your one salad a day should be satisfying, colorful, energizing, packed with nutrients, and flavor; a combination of raw and cooked ingredients that you can easily make at home and enjoy all week. That’s it.
There are no other rules, so enjoy that wine and chocolate (you’re welcome).
So why is eating one salad a day a transformational habit?
SALADS PROMOTE HEALTH
Can you think of a more nutritious, vitamin-packed way to fuel and respect your body? All that nutrient goodness packs a powerful energy punch that your body will thank you for.
SALADS ENCOURAGE ENGAGEMENT
Chopping veggies, washing leaves, cooking proteins, and deciding on tasty combinations allow you to touch, see, smell, and ponder your food. Let’s see a heat-n-eat pizza provide that kind of mindful experience (no offense, pizza).
SALADS SAVE YOU TIME AND MONEY
Contrary to popular belief, when approached in an organized way, salads can actually save you time and money. A little bit of batch-cooking will provide you with a week’s worth of salads, ready to grab and go.
SALADS CALL FOR MINDFULNESS
Just by nature of the crunch, the spearing of leaves with forks, and the collecting little bits of tasty topping, salads aren’t the kind of food you can eat distractedly. They call for attention, and therefore mindfulness, which is a good thing.
SALADS SUPPORT LOCAL FARMERS
Eating fresh, unprocessed food encourages shopping more locally and seasonally, which is good for you, your community, and the environment. Focusing on the quality and source of your food can help simplify your life and also support local farmers and artisans stay in business.
So how can I make eating one salad a day a real, lasting habit?
You’ll never know how amazingly delicious salads can be until you try a few recipes. If you’re in need of salad recipes, a quick Google search should do the trick. There are even entire sites devoted to salad recipes, like Loveleaf Co. Once you get going you’ll be hooked.
Progress is made in tiny, incremental shifts. So start small. Start by eating one simple, easy to throw together salad a day, whether that’s for dinner, lunch, or even breakfast. Not ready to eat salad for a full meal? Add a side salad to your weeknight dinners. You’ll be surprised by how quickly healthy nutrient-dense foods begin to crowd out less healthy options.
Another strategy: think of a favorite meal and then make it into a salad. Love burgers? Ditch the bun and put it on some spring mix. Add complimentary burger veggies, like sauteed onions, pickles, tomatoes, and some shredded cheddar cheese. The point isn’t to be perfect; the goal is to eat more nutrient-dense food in a maintainable way that you actually enjoy. Progress, not perfection.
PLAN TO SUCCEED
A little meal planning goes a long way. On Sundays(or whenever you do your grocery shopping), plan your salads for the week. Over the weekend you can batch-cook items like protein, dressing, grains, and roasted veggies, and then throw them over some greens for an easy lunch or dinner throughout the week.
If you want to bring your salad to work, pack your salads ahead of time. This trick for packing salads will keep your lettuce crisp for days
Protein is what transforms a salad from a sad side dish into a nutritional power meal. By adding satisfying and filling protein to your lunchtime salads, you will tackle your afternoon work overload #likeaboss.
And while chicken has always been salad’s favorite partner in crime, there is a smorgasbord of other delicious proteins you can rock the afternoon with. Whether you’re paleo or plant-based, there are types of protein for all ways of eating; mix and match sources until you hit your hangry-no-more amount.
MAKE IT DELICIOUS (EVEN WITHOUT A RECIPE)
Follow this simple formula to make one salad:
Base (2 handfuls of greens) + Veggies (½ – 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables) + Something Starchy (½ cup cooked rice, beans, roasted sweet potato, etc.) + Protein (palm-sized serving) + Something Fancy (crunchy nuts, seeds, dried fruit, cheese) + Dressing (¼ cup of your favorite). Toss all ingredients with dressing and voilà! Instant salad success.
KEEP IT STOCKED
A well-stocked kitchen is the key to creating a wide variety of flavorful, Instagram-worthy salads any day of the week. Recipes and on-the-fly salad creations become way more doable and delicious when your pantry is already packed (and the PJ bottoms and slippers can stay on). Just mix together your favorite staples with fresh greens – or follow the formula above – and get crunching.
MAKE IT FUN
You don’t have to do it alone! There is power in eating with other people. Enjoy salads with your friends, family, and partners. Make a date-night salad, like arugula, pear, and steak salad with honey mustard dressing (don’t forget the red wine).
Or try a brunch salad with friends; something like a huevos rancheros salad with a side of mimosas. Love take out? How about a Pad Thai Salad or a Garlic Ginger Kale Bowl? The possibilities are endless.
FOLLOW A PROGRAM
Have someone else do the planning for you. Loveleaf Co. offers a free week of easy, filling salad recipes, including a shopping list and tips, through a program called the 7 Day Salad Reset. Kick-start this healthy habit by joining today.