Can eating salad make you fat?
The summer of 2018 will always be remembered in our house as the Summer of Slime. The eight weeks during which my kids became obsessed with making, playing with and generally wallowing in huge quantities of glue and food dye.
If you donít have kids, then all you need to know is that slime is a substance that children use to torture their parents with at a whole new level. First you mix together glue and eyewash (true story), then you add food dye and any variety of uncontainable micro-substances (like glitter or sequins). These have an outward trajectory of impressive distance and will later be found on every surface, in every shoe and in the paella you are making for dinner.
By the time your kids are done, they will have dyed their hands completely and solidly smurf-blue (see my Facebook pageÖ) and have had the most incredible time doing it. They will then get bored with the batch they have made, so will stash it in the freezer where you may later, accidentally, confuse it for ice cream.
They will insist on making another batch. You will say no 9,000 times and then, eventually, crack. They will PROMISE that they will keep things tidy, be careful with the glitter, not use food dye and keep all ingredients on the kitchen table.
You will believe them and then watch with fascinated horror while they do the exact opposite. At this point you will pour yourself (another) glass of wine and give up. Give up having a clean house, give up having a glitter-free life, give up having kids that donít look like smurfs, give up every single chance you had of clinging on to your sanityÖ
Fortunately, while this has made keeping our house tidy next to impossible, the lazy days and longer evenings have made life a little easier.
Weíve had the usual camp craziness to keep up with, but itís nice to have a break from activities and homework. And Iíve been simplifying things in the kitchen, too. Something on the grill, a simple salad, Bermuda corn Ö itís easy to keep things healthy at this time of year. The only issue is, that while salads usually mean a transition to healthier eating and a flatter, trimmer waistline, sometimes they can backfire.
They backfire in obvious ways if you drown them in dressing or eat a pint of ice cream afterwards because youíve ďbeen goodĒÖ but they can backfire in a less obvious way too.
Itís typical human nature to think that because some of a good thing is healthy, that lots of it must be even better. However, the truth is that while some salad can be good, lots of salad can be hard to digest and leave you feeling bloated. Of course, being bloated isnít the same as being fat, but it can certainly feel that way. No one likes their clothes feeling uncomfortably tight, especially if itís the direct result of eating something as angelic as salad.
If your digestion is great and if youíve eaten lots of salad for a long time, you probably have no problem at all. If thatís the case, you have the green light to go right ahead and keep on doing what youíre doing. However, if your digestion is sensitive, if you keep getting bloated after you eat and if it keeps happening despite making healthy choices like salad, then we need to think again.
If healthy salads are new to you, then start with only one to two cups of leafy greens. You can increase this over time, but donít do too much too soon. Also, youíre going to want to keep it simple. Layering on eleven different raw vegetables and a handful of cocoa nibs might make you feel virtuous, but it can be irritating and overwhelming for the digestive tract. Variety is great for increasing your exposure to different micronutrients, but you can experience variety over the course of a week ó it doesnít have to be all in one bowl!
As an example, Iíve given you a recipe for one of my favourite salad bowls. Itís just marinated kale, avocado, blueberries and bacon. Thatís it! And if youíre wondering what bacon is doing in a nutrition column, then rest assured that if youíre eating kale, avocado and blueberries then a little bacon is OK. I recommend you use the English cut bacon from Waitrose at Supermart (itís lean and ethically sourced), but Niman Ranch and Applegate are also OK options. If you want to skip the bacon, just replace it with quality protein: fish, organic chicken, tempeh or a vegetarian combination of quinoa and beans.
If you eat something simple like this and STILL experience bloating, itís possible that youíre just allergic to everything healthy. Just kidding, but you may have food sensitivities or an issue with lectins, enzyme inhibitors in general or FODMAPS (short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine). If you suspect that may be the case, book in to see a professional for some help navigating a way forward. Itís complicated, but itís not the end of the world. Sometimes eating healthy isnít as straightforward as you feel it should be, but donít give up. We can help you navigate a way through.
Simple Summer Salad Bowl
Ingredients (per person):
2 cups baby or regular kale
1 cup blueberries
3 slices Waitrose bacon
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
1 tsp maple syrup
1, Whisk together the oil, juice, maple syrup and seasonings (to taste).
2, If you have regular kale, tear the leaves off the stalks and then tear again into bite-sized pieces. If you have baby kale, all you have to do is open the package, ha.
3, In a bowl, pour the dressing over the kale, massage it into the leaves and allow it to marinate. Lighting a scented candle and playing spa music will help the kale relax, but thatís optional.
4, Wash your blueberries, grill your bacon and dice your avocado.
5, Throw everything
together in the bowl and you are done. You can add a little extra dressing over the avo if you like. Enjoy!