Salad-Bar Survival Tips
Here's how to stay on track at an all-you-can-eat restaurant.
Serve-yourself buffets or smorgasbords with their all-you-can-eat allure are typically diet bombs.
But new research shows that there are simple, fundamental differences between how overweight and healthy-weight people approach a restaurant spread.
The findings can help you stay on the healthy eating track when you're faced with the urge to graze.
A.k.a. the white death.
If you must have some slaw or, worse, macaroni salad (3/4 c. = 26 g. of fat!), at least place it over raw vegetables.
The mayo will double as salad dressing.
No matter how you slice 'em, these are roots.
What's worse, they're roots without a nutritional leg to stand on.
You'd need to eat half a cup to take in 1 gram (g.) of fiber, which isn't enough to keep even a rabbit regular.
Look Before You Eat
71% of normal-weight diners, versus 33% of obese people, browsed the restaurant's food selections before serving themselves.
Don't bother with these little health-food frauds.
Half a cup provides only traces of nutrients.
But they are virtually calorie-free, so if you actually like their dank flavor, fill yer boots.
Shredding gives raw carrots a whole new quality: They become edible.
Mix, don't top, your salad with a quarter cup of them, and you'll be eating nearly a whole day's worth of beta-carotene.
Sit In a Booth
38% of normal-weight diners sat in a booth instead of at a table (making it less convenient to get out), compared with 16% of obese diners.
Broccoli's bleached cousin has only a fraction of the vitamin-C and beta-carotene.
You're better off doubling up on broccoli and skipping this pale imitator.
A few spoonfuls have potassium and magnesium to lower blood pressure, plus folate to help prevent heart disease.
Picking the Right Chair
73% of normal-weight diners sat facing away from the buffet, versus 58% of obese people.
Salad-Bars & Black Olives
While these little fat bombs won't hurt your heart, they won't help it much either.
You'd need to eat 10 to get just 3 g. of cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated fat.
Half a cup has 6 g. of protein, 5 g. of fiber, and some B vitamins.
Chew, Chew, Chew
Chew each bite 15 times, as this is the average healthy eating standard for normal-weight people.
Obese diners chewed just 12 times.
One has 6 g. of protein and some lutein and zeaxanthin, phytochemicals that may cut your risk of age-related vision loss.
Ounce for ounce, these little suckers have as much prostate-protecting lycopene as their big brothers.
Salad-Bars & Cucumbers
Low in nutrients, fiber, and taste.
Maybe that's why people drown 'em in vinegar and call them pickles.
Iceberg lettuce or mesclun salad greens
Nutrient-wise, iceberg lettuce helps your diet as much as real icebergs helped the Titanic.
But mesclun greens contain folate, to fight heart disease, and fiber, to spit shine your colon walls.
Leave Leftovers on Your Plate
Normal-weight diners left just over a tenth of their food, while the obese eaters left around half that much.
Salad-Bars & Cottage Cheese
It's the best cheese choice on the bar.
Half a cup of the full-fat stuff has only 108 calories and 5 g. of fat, and gives you 13 g. of protein.
Six florets give you a day's worth of vitamin-C and 20 percent of your beta-carotene.
Bonus: Broccoli is rich in a number of polysyllabic compounds that seem to have anticancer properties.
Eat all you can stand.
Salad-Bars & Shredded Cheddar
One half cup of shredded Cheddar has 19 g. of fat, about what you'd get in a fast-food taco.
Try to limit yourself to a tablespoon.
Mysterious extras (bacon bits, croutons, Chinese noodles)
They're salty, they're crunchy, they're more like pretzels than vegetables.
Of the three, the croutons are best.
Ten croutons add up to about 50 calories and 2 g of fat.
Chinese noodles tend to be greasier.
And bacon bits?
Well, they're bacon, and we all know how healthy that is.
Low-fat dressing isn't low-cal, so go easy on it.
A better bet?
Canola oil and red wine vinegar.
The oil contains omega-3 fatty acids to reduce your heart-disease risk.
The vinegar adds flavonoids to keep your blood flowing smoothly.
There you have our tips on safely navigating the salad-bars of your favorite restaurants.Tweet
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