- What to Eat and What to Avoid When You Have Diarrhea
- Avoid These Foods When You Have Diarrhea
- Trying to eat healthy but finding that your green-packed lunch is giving you a sour stomach? Here’s why.
- I quit eating salad for good and I’ve never felt healthier
- The INSIDER Summary:
- But this summer I learned that salad, unfortunately, just may be my body’s enemy.
- My concern quickly turned into an unhealthy obsession.
- I decided to ditch salads for good.
- But is there any truth to the results of my experiment, or is it just pure coincidence?
- The important thing is eating what makes you feel good and best fuels your body.
- Feeling sick and stomach pains after eating salad
- ‘Why Does Salad Give Me Diarrhea?’ – 5 Possible Reasons Explained
- Restaurant salad blamed for stomach cramps
- Here, Bauer along with Ayurvedic and raw foods expert Poornima Sharma, PhD, share how to keep your salad game strong without overloading your body.
- Watch the volume
- Cook your vegetables
- Choose your ingredients wisely
- Are you going overboard on salads?
- I ate salad for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a month — and I was shocked by how full it made me feel
- I made sure my salads had plenty of protein and healthy fats.
- I discovered that a diet high in leafy greens has benefits for both your body and mind.
- I realized that salads take some serious time and preparation to make.
- The biggest challenge came when I got sick, and the last thing I wanted to eat was a salad.
- I’ll definitely be incorporating more salads into my everyday diet after this experiment.
What to Eat and What to Avoid When You Have Diarrhea
Avoid These Foods When You Have Diarrhea
As important as it is to know what to eat when you have diarrhea, you should also know which foods to avoid. Certain foods can travel through your intestines very quickly and aggravate your digestion, or worsen diarrhea in other ways.
Avoid the following for diarrhea relief:
- Fatty foods These include foods that are fried, greasy, or covered in gravy, which can make diarrhea worse.
- Milk, butter, ice cream, and cheese Even if the diarrhea isn’t caused by lactose intolerance — a difficulty processing lactose, a sugar found in dairy products — stay away from these foods when you have diarrhea. You may be temporarily sensitive to dairy products, even if you usually have no problem with them. Probiotic-rich yogurt may be the one exception to this rule, as some studies have shown probiotics help rebalance intestinal flora and could shorten the duration of a bout of diarrhea.
- Alcohol and sodas When you have diarrhea, you want to steer clear of foods and beverages that cause you to lose fluids. Alcohol can act as a diuretic, meaning it’s dehydrating, and should be avoided, Dr. Higgins says. Sodas with high-fructose corn syrup can also pose a problem if you have diarrhea. According to a study published in the June 2017 issue of Healthcare, large quantities of fructose can overwhelm your digestive system and lead to gas, bloating, or diarrhea.
- Sorbitol and other artificial sweeteners Some people find that artificial sweeteners have a laxative effect on their digestive system. If you have diarrhea, it’s best to pass on sugarless candy and gum, diet soft drinks, and sugar substitutes. According to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health newsletter, consuming sugars, including artificial ones, causes your intestines to produce more water and electrolytes, which can then loosen bowel movements and lead to diarrhea.
- Foods that cause excess gas It’s important to eat generous amounts of fruits and vegetables every day. But when diarrhea strikes, you want to avoid choices that are likely to increase intestinal gas, such as cabbage, beans, broccoli, and cauliflower, until you’re feeling better.
- Foods that may be spoiled Stay away from foods that may have been mishandled, including foods that have been out of the refrigerator for too long or improperly stored. Raw meat or fish can be problematic, too. Follow the old maxim, “When in doubt, throw it out,” and you may save yourself some stomach upset.
Trying to eat healthy but finding that your green-packed lunch is giving you a sour stomach? Here’s why.
You just ordered a salad for lunch — instead of the burger you wanted — and feel like you’re killing it at the clean-eating game. So why is your stomach in knots all of a sudden?
Here are a few reasons you might be dealing with some less than desirable reactions, like bloating and heartburn, after making this healthy meal choice.
Reason #1: Kale and other greens are high in fiber.
Research has identified 45 different flavonoids in kale, which are known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-like effects. But kale, specifically raw kale, is also loaded with insoluble fiber. While that can help digestion for some individuals, others can be sensitive to high-fiber foods. When in doubt, order a salad that mixes kale with other greens so you don’t miss out on its hefty health benefits.
Reason #2: You’re using a vinaigrette dressing.
Vinegar — a common ingredient in most vinaigrette dressings — is acidic and can be a heartburn trigger for some people. If you go heavy on the dressing, you may feel the effects of acid reflux, even if you avoided more known heartburn triggers like tomatoes, citrus, or onions.
Reason #3: Your salad is actually a big meal.
The cold, hard truth is that just because you start a meal with lettuce doesn’t mean it’s always going to be considered “light.” If your salad is full of add-ons like chicken or steak, cheese, beans, croutons, a heavy dressing, and other toppings like tortilla chips, you’re now eating a pretty big meal, which can increase stomach pressure and add to acid reflux symptoms. This is doubly true if you’re using a full-fat, dairy-based dressing, as full-fat dairy products can trigger heartburn symptoms.
Keeping these tips in mind the next time you decide to order a salad for lunch should help this healthy choice treat your body right, but if heartburn symptoms still end up surprising you, make sure to have a bottle of TUMS handy. TUMS provides fast relief for your toughest heartburn, going to work in seconds to neutralize acid on contact1 and get you back to feeling great.
1When used as directed.
I quit eating salad for good and I’ve never felt healthier
The INSIDER Summary:
- After dealing with chronic bloat and stomach problems, I decided to ditch salads.
- Raw, cruciferous vegetables are tough to digest because they’re fibrous.
- If you have an unhealthy gastrointestinal tract or food sensitivities, then you’re more likely to have a bad reaction to digesting raw vegetables.
- I feel much better and way less bloated now.
If there’s one food that screams “healthy,” it has to be salad. The humble salad is the bland but dependable nutritious lunch choice that will make you look like a responsible eater (unless you add croutons and creamy dressing — no judgment).
But this summer I learned that salad, unfortunately, just may be my body’s enemy.
I usually buy lunch every day and, up until a few months ago, my go-to choice was usually one of those build-your-own salad places, where I’d load up on kale, avocado, and other raw veggies, topped with an olive oil dressing.
But in the beginning of 2017, I began to notice a strange pattern of bloating.
It started when I was sitting at my desk at work and I realized that my pants did not fit. It felt like I had just finished a Thanksgiving meal: I was fatigued, felt extremely full, and had a full-on muffin top. The kicker? I had only eaten a healthy, protein-rich breakfast and a salad that day. Luckily, I was wearing a long shirt which allowed me to discretely unbutton my pants.
The next day, the same thing happened. This time, I was wearing a loose top and only felt comfortable after I unbuttoned and unzipped my pants.
Some days I would feel like myself, but most of the time it looked like my abdomen had ballooned to almost twice its normal size. Even though I rarely over-ate and worked out regularly, I was never happy with how I looked or felt.
My concern quickly turned into an unhealthy obsession.
Since I am naturally very thin, any weight gain on my frame is instantly noticeable, so I became paranoid. Even though it was the middle of winter, I spent one entire evening trying on last summer’s bikinis and scrutinizing my reflection the mirror. Over the span of just five months, I looked like a reverse weight loss before and after photo. I felt about five to 10 pounds heavier, even though the number on my scale was no different than usual.
I downloaded a food diary app and began chronicling everything that I ate — convinced that I had some form of food allergy. As a pasta-loving Italian, having a gluten intolerance would seriously be the end of my world. But after weeks of obsessively writing down everything I wrote, results were still inconclusive. I thought it might have something to do with my cycle, so I started researching both dietary and gynecological issues related to bloating online.
What made things worse was my job. I write about food for a living and love doing it. But these new issues caused my my passion for finding and reporting on everything delicious to become a source of endless frustration and plummeting self esteem.
Mostly my job entails writing about food that’s definitely not salad. Joanna Fantozzi
I felt uncomfortable wearing jeans and limited my wardrobe choices. With multiple friends who have suffered from eating disorders, I know how easily an obsession with self-image can become something much darker. Thankfully, I did not go down that path.
I decided to ditch salads for good.
I was pretty close to scheduling an appointment with a gastroenterologist when I happened to speak with a friend’s husband who told me that his wife had stopped eating salads because her body could not handle digesting raw vegetables. Since nothing else was working, I tried giving it a shot.
I had my last salad about six weeks ago. Since then, I try to bring lean proteins, brown rice, and cooked vegetables into work for lunch (or I at least buy the equivalent). I’ve found that by forcing myself to rely on home-cooked meals, I can control portion size and the cooked vegetables are noticeably much easier to digest than my usual fiber-rich salads.
Over the past two months, I’ve felt much better. My bloating issues have diminished substantially and I am no longer embarrassed to wear form-fitting clothing. I feel confident knowing that my appearance won’t drastically change (at least in my mind) over the course of the day.
Me holding my lunch of salmon, brown rice, and sweet potatoes that will probably last two days. Matthew Gordon
But is there any truth to the results of my experiment, or is it just pure coincidence?
I wasn’t sure if the “fix” I was experiencing was the real deal, so I reached out to a registered dietitian about my raw vegetable conundrum.
“Raw vegetables contain cellulose, a naturally occurring fiber which is good for your diet, but can be hard to break down,” Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan told INSIDER. “What aids the breakdown of cellulose is cellulase,an enzyme. Your body produces cellulase naturally, but those with an unhealthy gut may not produce enough to properly break down the cellulose in raw vegetables. Based on dietary restrictions like food allergies, some people may not be able to consume enough of the foods that create a healthy gut to produce cellulase effectively, making it more difficult to break down the cellulose found in raw vegetables.”
In other words, some people with food allergies, sensitivities, or gut imbalances are prone to issues with digesting fibrous vegetables, which will lead to “bloating and discomfort.”
Derocha suggested eating allium vegetables like garlic, ginger, onions, leeks, apples, and kiwi, which are rich in pre- and pro-biotics, to help aid with digestive issues.
The important thing is eating what makes you feel good and best fuels your body.
I found a diet that works for me — eating smaller portions of lean proteins, cooked vegetables, and healthy grains, while avoiding raw vegetables and fruits — but that might not work for everyone. Maybe you’re the type who thrives on crunchy kale salads or you prefer to try a gluten-free keto diet. Perhaps you need to practice intuitive eating and quit beating yourself up over those extra calories consumed over the weekend.
Do I still have bloated days? Of course, especially when I haven’t been to the gym for a week or two. But I no longer feel like a prisoner on a roller coaster ride of body image that fluctuates daily. That alone is worth doing away with salads for good.
Feeling sick and stomach pains after eating salad
Now this isn’t usuallly much of a problem for me as I don’t generally eat salads in large quantities, but I have been on a diet and have been eating salads more regularly recently so have noticed it more. Although it has definatley been happening for a couple of years.
Whenever I eat a salad an hour or so after I get stomach pain and feel sick. Not even any specific type of salad. Today it was a Caesar with just romaine lettuce, yesterday it was a spiralised salad without much in the way of leaves.
I really enjoy a salad but I hate feeling like this, it lasts a couple of hours and its horrible. It doesn’t usually happen if I have a small amount of salad on the side of something else, more if the salad is the main part of the meal.
When I’m at home I wash the veg first, so don’t think it’s the pesticides or anything.
I do get IBS but it’s a different kind of pain so I don’t think it’s linked. I did read on the internet that it could be due to trapped gas from the lettuce, but I don’t feel particularly windy with it.
Is it possible to be allergic to salad? Seems ridiculous. And if this is common, is there anything I can do to cure it, as I really want to enjoy a salad!
Go organic and problem solved. Pesticides are just nasty.
I hope she feels better . I love salads, and I buy only organic produce and have not had an issue nor have my children or husband…
Does anyone else have stomach pains/cramps after eating a salad with Romaine lettuce?
We thought it was just a fluke, but every time my daughter (16) eats a salad with Romaine lettuce she has severe stomach cramps. I never put it together until tonight, 20 minutes after finishing the salad she was on the floor, goraning. And the other night she had a Ceasar salad from Panera–smae thing. Each time it’s the Romaine that is the kicker–whtehr i wash it at home or it comes from a restaurant or a bag, the results are the same.
It can’t be the fiber, because other fibrous foods (whole grain cereal, etc.) don’t bother her.
It’s not that she eats from the same place each time…and it seems she can eat other leafy greens and certainly cooked veggies. But the Romaine lettuce gives her big problems. Would Beano help?
Also, my husband breaks out in a sweat (he’s bald) when he eats a salad, his head is covered in water droplets and he gets all flushed.
Have you heard of this?
‘Why Does Salad Give Me Diarrhea?’ – 5 Possible Reasons Explained
Unfortunately when it comes to salads it can be difficult narrowing in on the exact reason that they are causing your unfortunate case of diarrhea. There are just so many variables at play, so many different types of salads with so many different ingredients, that there is no one good answer we can give to the question of why they are causing diarrhea. However, five potential reasons that are worth looking into include…
1. Bacterial infections
Not only does cooking foods help make them easier for us to chew and digest, but it also helps to kill harmful bacteria and other microbes that could do us harm. And, as we know, salads are not cooked, or at least not usually.
Salads are often composed largely of a leafy green, such as lettuce. Now these leafy greens should always be washed, along with everything else that is uncooked, but sometimes that is not even done. When it is done it is often washed in local waters which could contain local strains of bacteria like E. coli, the common cause of “traveler’s diarrhea”.
If you consistently get the runs after eating salad in an area that you have lived for a while, then you can probably roll out “traveler’s diarrhea”. But, it could still be due to bacteria of another kind.
The most you can do here to avoid this is simply buying salad ingredients that are trusted and make sure to always wash them yourself before eating.
2. A look at fiber
When you have diarrhea it is almost always a good idea to look at your fiber intake. You need fiber if you want to have healthy bowel movements, but you also don’t want too much. Salads can vary greatly in the amount of fiber that they provide, depending on what all ingredients we are looking at, but if we are looking at a very plain salad that features mostly raw green leaf lettuce then you aren’t getting much in the way of fiber. According to the USDA, 1 cup of raw green leaf lettuce only provides you with 0.5 mg of fiber.
Couple the low amount of fiber with the fact that a lot of lettuces are high in water content and this can increase your chances of loose stools.
To get a healthy dose of fiber you want to eat a nice balanced salad. Carrots, Brussels sprouts, avocados, broccoli, etc. all provide good amounts of fiber and may be worth adding into the mix.
3. Maybe it’s the dressing
There are so many different varieties of dressings out there and they could very well be the cause of the entire problem, or at least be an unwanted addition that helps bring the problem about in the first place.
Are the dressings you are lathering your salads in high in fat? Do they contain soy lecithin, which is used in many different dressings? If so you may want to try out a lower fat dressing that does not contain lecithin and see if that takes care of the problem for you. Lecithin is known to cause abdominal pain, cramps and diarrhea.
4. Do you use cheese?
Cheese is another common ingredient you find in salads and is well known to cause diarrhea in many people. This is going to be a problem if you are lactose intolerant, which can lead to bloating, cramps, diarrhea, gas, etc.
The reason some people suffer from this intolerance is because the small intestine doesn’t produce enough of the enzyme called lactase, which is responsible for the digestion of lactose.
If this is the problem then you will also experience the same symptoms from other dairy products like milk.
5. Tomatoes could also be the culprit
While tomatoes might not be a problem on their own, they could be an addition to a salad that you might not want to add. If you have a sensitive stomach and it is already being upset to a small degree, the extreme acidic nature of the tomato can further upset it and increase your chances of diarrhea.
This could be like “throwing wood on the fire” so to speak.
Restaurant salad blamed for stomach cramps
Question: I like to eat out at restaurants, but often I get stomach cramps about an hour after eating salad, especially if it is from a salad bar. I must rush to a bathroom to avoid an embarrassing incident of diarrhea.
I feel sure there must be some substance, perhaps a preservative on the lettuce or in the dressing, causing this reaction. I know other people who’ve had similar experiences, but I’ve never seen it addressed in your column. Do you know what it could be? I might be able to ask in advance whether the restaurant uses the substance and save myself distress.
Answer: What you are describing sounds suspiciously like a reaction to the preservative sulfite. Years ago, lettuce and raw vegetables at salad bars were dipped in a sulfite solution to keep them from turning brown. This is no longer legal because the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of sulfites on fresh fruits and vegetables in 1986. Too many people had experienced hives, diarrhea or life-threatening asthma attacks when exposed to these chemicals.
Salad bar lettuce should be safe, but other salad ingredients, such as shrimp, might cause trouble. Some salad dressings contain sulfites, and so do dried fruits like apricots or golden raisins. Beware of foods such as hash browns, home fries, jam, molasses, soup mixes, canned vegetables, wine and flaked coconut.
Question: I’ve had to resort to taking Tylenol PM to sleep because my doctor will not renew my prescription for Ambien. It worked like a charm, but he says I should not rely on it every night.
What are the consequences of taking Tylenol PM every night? My other medications are metoprolol to control blood pressure and Wellbutrin to help me stop smoking.
Answer: In these anxious times, a lot of people are having trouble sleeping. Medications can also cause problems. Beta blockers like propranolol (Inderal) and metoprolol (Toprol, Lopressor) can trigger nightmares and insomnia. Bupropion (Wellbutrin) can also affect sleep quality. Ask your doctor if there are alternatives.
We are sending you our Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep, which lists medications that can cause insomnia and discusses a number of nondrug solutions to this problem. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (No. 10), stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. I-70, P.O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Ambien can be very effective for insomnia, but in rare cases it might lead to dependence. Diphenhydramine (DPH) is a sedating antihistamine found in Tylenol PM, Excedrin PM, Nytol QuickCaps and many other over-the-counter sleep aids. Repeated use might lead to reduced effectiveness. Some people report feeling sluggish in the morning after taking DPH.
Question: I was interested to read about a side effect of the pain reliever Celebrex. I too experienced extreme breast tenderness. My blood pressure also shot up to 190/100. I was taking Vioxx instead of Celebrex, but I thought you might like to know about this.
Answer: Some people taking Vioxx do develop hypertension as a side effect. It is wise to monitor blood pressure when you take this drug.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them at [email protected] or via their Web site: www.peoplespharmacy.org. Their newest book is “The People’s Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies” (St. Martin’s Press). © King Features Syndicate Inc.
While good-for-you food fads may come and go (remember unicorn toasts and lattes?), a big bowl of greens is definitely a healthy mainstay. Plenty of people even have one every single day. (Shout out to everyone who would fight to the death defending the honor of their chopped salad locale.) Like adding adaptogens to your morning smoothie or religiously going to Sunday yoga, salads are often part of an engrained healthy routine. But is it possible to OD on the one healthy habit that seems the most like a no-brainer?
The short answer is: Yep. According to Food Fix founder Heather Bauer, RD, CND, all those raw veggies can seriously stress out your GI tract. “I hear over and over again from clients that they start eating salads to be healthier and end up feeling bloated,” Bauer says. “Too much roughage and raw foods can be hard to digest.”
Photo: Stocksy/Daring Wanderer
Watch the volume
Bauer explains that some people can eat big salads and have no digestive problems whatsoever, but if you do—which is especially common if you are just starting to make salads part of your everyday life—she suggests you watch how much you’re eating. “I’d start with between a cup-and-a-half to two cups of salad,” she says.
Dr. Sharma, who teaches an Ayurvedic cooking class at the Art of Living Retreat Center in North Carolina, echoes the sentiment, saying that, while the exact number varies for each person, she recommends beginning with raw veggies comprising no more than 10 to 25 percent of your daily diet.
For the other 75 to 90 percent, round out your meal with protein and healthy fats not tucked inside an extra helping of greens. Or, you could vary your plate with cooked veggies—which leads to our experts’ next big tip.
Photo: Stocksy/Cameron Whitman
Cook your vegetables
“Cooked vegetables are easier for people to digest than raw veggies,” Bauer says. While it’s true that the cooking process does dim some of the nutrient density, Bauer says the difference isn’t great enough to lose sleep over. “And besides, it’s better than the alternative, which is feeling super gassy,” she says. Agreed.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, Dr. Sharma says, “ancient wisdom on food indicates that cooked foods are easier and more gentle on the body, and then adding in some easily digestive raw foods as part of the daily meal is a good combination to have.” The takeaway here: Salads don’t have to be the only way to get your veggie fix. Some cooked vegetables that she says are particularly easy on the tummy are sweet potatoes, spinach, steamed string beans, and steamed asparagus.
Photo: Stocksy/Darren Muir
Choose your ingredients wisely
When it comes to building your salad, Bauer points out that some ingredients are easier to digest than others. “For some people, the more cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts, tend to be more gassy and are a little bit harder to digest than veggies like cucumber, carrots, and zucchini,” she says. Her tip: Go easy on the aforementioned ones and also limit your salad to three different vegetables as to not overwhelm the digestive tract. Also important to know is that raw veggies aren’t the only salad ingredient that can cause digestive stress. She adds that for some, chickpeas and beans can muck things up, too.
Dr. Sharma says to be conscious of lectins, a protein in certain fruits and vegetables that the plant creates to defend themselves against animals looking for a snack. (Grains, legumes, and nightshades have them in the highest concentrations; low on the lectin scale are leafy greens, squash, cauliflower, sweet potato, citrus, berries, and apples.) She says some people just aren’t able to digest foods with lectins well. You might have no problem with them; it’s just something to pay attention to and notice how they make you feel.
Both experts agree that the key to keeping this healthy habit an enjoyable part of your routine—and not a pain point for your body—is to avoid overwhelming your gut. We promise your fave salad chopper will still remember your order if you take a few days off.
If you’re looking for simple ways to cut down on raw foods while still eating healthy, check out these 8 lettuce-free salad recipes. Plus, avoid salad fatigue by checking out all the different ways wellness influencers like to eat their greens.
Are you going overboard on salads?
We often assess foods based on the number of calories they contain, or the presence of protein and vitamins. But Traditional Chinese Medicine uses a different metric: hot versus cold.
In this paradigm, foods have inherent warming or cooling properties. “It’s not necessarily about temperature,” explains Andrew Shubov, M.D., an integrative medicine physician at the UCLA Center for East-West Medicine. “In East Asian cultures, a lot of people grow up with a notion of what is hot and cold…they’ll just intuitively have this sense that fish and green leafy vegetables are cooling, while chicken is warming.”
Assessing the healthfulness of food in this way requires a deeper thinking about food than what’s contained on the nutrition label. “Followers of the traditional Chinese diet evaluate the energy, the flavor, and the movement of the food,” says Lisa Hayim, RD, a nutritionist in New York City.
The stereotypical unhealthy American diet of meat, cheese, bread and sugar skews hot and causes so-called “hot-natured” diseases such as inflammatory disorders and heart disease. But it’s possible to be too cold.
For example, Shubov says he often sees young women at his clinic who are vegetarian and have chronic fatigue. “They’ve been told to avoid meat and eat as many vegetables and raw greens as possible—and they end up feeling worse,” he says. “What they need is the opposite; they would benefit from bone broth and yams.”
In other words, yes, it may be possible to eat too much salad.
The goal is balance (another example of TCM’s yin and yang). Sashimi is an example of equal hot and cold. Raw fish is super cooling and it’s served with miso soup and wasabi—all warming—for balance. The Cliffs notes version to identifying hot and cold foods: The foods you crave in summer are generally cooling (leafy greens, cucumber, mint, fish), while those you want in winter are warming, such as ginger and meat.
Eating with this in mind will inevitably make your diet contain a larger variety of unprocessed foods.
“When we look at food based on its calories and common nutrient profile, we disregard important factors, like what ‘real foods’ we are actually eating,” Hayim says. “At the end of the day, every person has to learn what works for them and what doesn’t. Integrating aspects of the TCM diet into your current diet may be beneficial and certainly won’t hurt.”
I ate salad for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a month — and I was shocked by how full it made me feel
- I tried to eat salad for every single meal for a month and almost made it.
- I survived the whole month, but did swap a few salads here and there for other things.
- I learned that salads aren’t always quick to make, but you eat so many more vegetables.
- I was way less hungry than I thought I’d be.
When I received this assignment — to eat a salad for all of my meals for a month — I was equal parts excited and nervous.
After a couple of months of way more sugar and carbohydrates than I normally eat, the prospect of eating more vegetable-centric meals and far fewer grains was really appealing.
Yet, I also had this feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach because I was worried that I’d be hungry all month long, miserable and crabby, or snacking constantly, negating any benefits I’d gotten from eating so many salads.
Surprisingly, my all salad all the time diet didn’t leave me feeling famished, though I did snack a bit over the course of the month (and indulged in a dessert or two). I tried to balance my salads as best I could, eating very few bowls of just leafy greens, but I also wasn’t overly concerned about calories. Bacon on my salad? Sure. Hand-torn croutons? Why not?
While I didn’t want to let my salads get too out of control, as it’s so easy for salads to do, I also recognized that it’d all balance out, so long as I tried my best.
I made sure my salads had plenty of protein and healthy fats.
I packed my salads with things like nuts and avocados. Lauren Schumacker
The focus was on protein and healthy fats, which definitely made it easier to eat only salads. Nuts, seeds, avocado, vinaigrettes, fish, chicken, beans, and quinoa all gave my salads a little oomph and helped keep me feeling full. Some days I wasn’t even eating all three salads because I just wasn’t hungry.
Immediately, I noticed that I generally felt “better.” I had more energy and made healthier snack choices (at least, most of the time). I felt a bit bloated early on, but as the month went on, I noticed that my clothes were fitting slightly differently.
This was not a crash diet that led to extreme weight loss, and because I personally choose not to weigh myself I don’t know if I weigh any less now than I did when I began, but I felt leaner, which was a nice bonus.
I discovered that a diet high in leafy greens has benefits for both your body and mind.
While I didn’t feel any immediate benefits, studies prove that leafy greens can improve your health. Lauren Schumacker
The short-term effects of eating a lot of salad were, honestly, relatively minor. Other than feeling leaner, choosing healthier snacks, and generally having a bit more energy, nothing transformative happened.
Eating more salads though, as a general guideline, might potentially have some important implications as you age. A recent study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that eating about one serving of leafy green vegetables each day, as well as foods high in certain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients, can help slow down cognitive decline. In other words, eating more salads full of green vegetables might be just as good for your mind as it is for your body.
Not only that, but WebMD reported that a National Cancer Institute study found that eating lots of fruits and vegetables can lower your risk for developing some cancers of the head and neck. There are lots of benefits to a more veggie-centric way of eating and you don’t have to be strictly vegetarian or vegan in order to do so ( I’m not).
I realized that salads take some serious time and preparation to make.
Thinking ahead is critical. Lauren Schumacker
The main struggle with eating salads for all of your meals is that salads don’t just come together in a second or two — unless you’ve done some serious prep work. Washing greens, chopping veggies, roasting or cooking vegetables or grains, making dressings (if you’re going to go that route), and more, all take some time.
I made bigger batches of dressings whenever I could, or I simply sloshed some vinegar and olive oil over my salad, added salt and pepper, and called it a day. Grains and roasted veggies were made in bigger batches as well or saved for dinner salads because there just isn’t the time to make it all happen earlier in the day — at least, on most days.
Planning ahead or following recipes was the easiest way to ensure that I wouldn’t spend an hour staring into the fridge, exasperated and hoping that something would just appear because I had to eat a salad.
The biggest challenge came when I got sick, and the last thing I wanted to eat was a salad.
All in all, I enjoyed the experiment. Lauren Schumacker
When I got sick, about a week and a half or so into this experiment, I gave in and ate whatever sounded appetizing that wasn’t salad. Salad isn’t comforting and, frankly, even though it can be one of the healthiest things to eat, when you’re under the weather, it didn’t make me feel better so I figured it just wasn’t worth it.
Though chicken noodle soup might actually help you get better quicker, I’d argue that one of the reasons it can make you feel better, even temporarily, is because it’s warm and comforting, two things salad definitely is not.
Because it was January during a nasty flu season, I unfortunately got sick again during this experiment a week or two later. This time, however, I mostly stuck to salad, wavering only once when I worked late and found some leftover pizza in the fridge.
I learned that warm salads with grains and roasted veggies — especially after you’ve spent the last several weeks adjusting to eating so many salads — can, in fact, be a bit more comforting. And since my second bout lasted so long, I felt obligated to make more of an effort to keep the salad experiment going.
I’ll definitely be incorporating more salads into my everyday diet after this experiment.
Although there is some debate over how long it takes to form a habit, by the very end, it was no longer difficult for me to remember to reach for a salad. Sure, there were days when I wanted something else for dinner (and one or two that I made pasta salad and counted it since salad is right there in the name) and I missed my morning smoothies, but the first day without salad found me unsure as to what I should eat for breakfast because I was so used to it.
While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend switching to a super-strict all-salad diet just because, I can say that, for me at least, eating more salads will definitely change things for the better.
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