Are You Making These Salad Bar Mistakes? #536 09/30/13

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Are You Making These Salad Bar Mistakes?

By Zack Zeigler

You can breathe a sigh of relief. We're going to spare you the lecture filled with impractical "rules" for what you should or shouldn't eat at the salad bar. Instead, we're going to level with you about how to refine a few of your salad bar habits with some practical tips.

Cobb Salad

Don't worry, that doesn't include discussing table napkin etiquette or a brief history of the salad fork (that's the smaller, shorter fork, by the way). But it does include tips for how you can eat the foods you want while keeping your diet in check.

Mistake #1: You Don't Realize Salad Isn't "Free"

You might avoid the iceberg and head straight for romaine, kale, spinach, and mixed greens, but it doesn't take much to ruin what could be a healthy meal. Calorie-dense add-ons like shredded cheese, pasta, or those crunchy sesame noodles won't cause your spare tire to inflate . . . if you are mindful that they are much higher in calories than nutrient-packed veggies like cucumbers and peppers, or fruits like apricots and tomatoes. (We know, we know—some of you consider tomato a vegetable. The outcome of the Supreme Court case Nix v. Hedden [1893] says you're wrong. Yes, the Supreme Court seriously spent time deciding that.)

Mistake #2: You Eat Too Much "Good" Fat

Greek SaladFats are essential. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in salmon, eggs, olive oil, avocados, and nuts can help fight disease and regulate cholesterol levels. But an ounce of fat also contains more than twice as many calories as an ounce of carbohydrates or protein, so a truck-sized load of "good" fat on your plate still spells bad news for your gut.

Don't avoid fats entirely. Just don't pile 'em on. Use the thumb rule. When you're adding a serving of a fatty food, use about a thumb's worth. Generally, you don't need more than two thumbs' worth of fat on a salad, so maybe a wedge of avocado and a small spoonful of chopped nuts. (And you thought thumbs were just for rating movies.)

Mistake #3: Your Plate is Monochromatic

No need to hit every shade on the color wheel, but a hodgepodge of reds, oranges, yellows, and greens does more than pretty up your salad; it adds variety to your diet and delivers a variety of essential nutrients—particularly phytonutrients, which are unique to fruits and veggies—when consumed.

"Darker color veggies like broccoli, spinach, peppers, and carrots have the most nutritional value," explains Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD, about phytonutrients. "But each color—red cranberries, white onions, orange carrots, green peppers—has different antioxidant properties and different ways to protect against things like cancer or heart disease."

Since variables like your sex, age, and how active you are determine how many fruits and vegetables you should consume per day, let this plug-and-play calculator from the Center from Disease Control and Prevention crunch the numbers for you.

Mistake #4: You Avoid Carbs

Salad BarIf you've turned your back on carbs, fearing they'll make you fat, it's time to put your hat in hand and apologize to them. Carbohydrates don't make you fat (hint: lettuce—and all other vegetables—are carbs); consuming too many calories does. So if you're training hard, you most likely want to go heavier on the healthy carbs, given they're your body's primary fuel source.

"Body weight can increase after a carbohydrate-rich meal because carbs hold water in the body," Clark says. "When you carbo-load, for every ounce of carbohydrates you store in your muscle as glycogen, you store about three ounces of water. So when someone eats a bunch of pasta and wakes up the next day feeling like they've gained two pounds, they have gained water weight, not fat."

Mistake #5: You Really Love Dressing

We've all done it; after pouring our blood, sweat, and tears into making a perfectly balanced salad, the whole operation goes kablooey after we drown it in an inch of dressing.

"Put the dressing in a side dish, dip your fork into the dressing, and then stab a forkful of salad," she suggests. "You can also dilute the dressing with water, vinegar, or even some milk if it's a creamy dressing." Clark adds, "A little bit of dressing on a big salad can be a lot of dressing. Say three tablespoons of dressing is 200 calories. If you have six tablespoons worth of dressing, that's 400 calories. So if you're using all of it, you could have had a piece of pizza."

For some healthy dressings, try these:

Lemon Caesar Salad Dressing
Basil Dressing

What's your biggest salad bar mistake? Tell us at

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Ask the Expert: How Do I Improve My Digestion?

By Denis Faye

In a way, it's strange that this question needs addressing. After all, digestion is part of the parasympathetic nervous system, meaning it happens automatically. It's not like exercise or sleep or any other bodily function that we can control. You eat and it gets digested. No instructions necessary.

Woman with Upset Stomach

Or, maybe not. After all, just about everyone—myself included—has digestion issues from time to time, which is why TUMS® and Pepto-Bismol® are household names. (For the record, ginger tea with a hint of honey is a much more holistic—not to mention yummier—way to fight indigestion.)

How do you know if your digestion needs a little fine-tuning? Obvious signs include heartburn, excess gas, and too many/too few bowel movements. (One visit to the white throne a day is ideal.) If you really want to get into detail, your transit time—the time it takes food to get from one end to the other—should be about 24 hours. To test this, eat 2 to 3 beets in one sitting. Without getting too graphic, it will be extremely obvious when they've worked their way to your stool. If it's within a day or two, that's a good thing. If not, the tips below should help get things moving.

(Warning: The beet test can also turn your urine red—and in much less time than 24 hours. This is normal, albeit freaky. Don't panic.)

1. Drink More Water

Many of you would really, really like me to tell you that when you eat butter, barbeque sauce, and bacon fat they keep your body lubricated. Sadly, this isn't the case. It's water that keeps everything flowing smoothly throughout your whole body, including your gastrointestinal tract.

Drink at least half your weight in ounces daily. (If you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of H2O.) This is an excellent way to aid digestion—particularly if you're having a hard time backing the brown bus out of the garage . . . if you know what I'm saying. If you're having a hard time drinking enough water, here's an article featuring 25 handy dandy tips. One is bound to work for you.

Woman Drinking WaterSome people say you should avoid drinking water when you're eating because it dilutes stomach acid, thus hampering digestion. Personally, I don't buy into this. Fruits like melon and citrus are loaded with water. Should we not eat those? If you feel you digest better if you don't drink at the same time, then listen to your body. For everyone else, I think it's OK to drink water while you eat.

2. Eat Slower

Digestion is hard work. Whatever you eat has to be broken all the way down to molecules—and that's a big job! By eating slower and completely chewing your food, you save the rest of your system a lot of effort, and you thoroughly mix saliva into your meal. The enzymes in your saliva aid digestion by allowing the breakdown process to begin before the food even gets to your stomach.

Also, eating slower makes it easier for you to judge how full you are. It takes your belly about 10 to 30 minutes to tell your brain that it's full. Ever rush through a big meal and then end up feeling overstuffed less than half an hour later? That's why. Slow down chow time and you'll start recognizing the signals that your body is full before you overeat.

3. Consume Smaller Meals

Your body processes food better when you eat less of it in one sitting. If you eat five or six smaller meals a day, your body will have an easier time digesting them and better absorb the nutrients.

If you want to see this theory in action, consider the last time you took a multivitamin and your urine turned bright yellow. This happened because your body was flushing out excess vitamin B. Now, if you were to chop up the pill and take it over the day in five or six parts, odds are your pee wouldn't go neon. This is because you were better able to absorb the B vitamins. The same goes for all the nutrients in your meals. (For the record, you don't need to do this. You're still getting plenty of benefit from your multivitamin without going through the stress of partitioning it.)

Another benefit of smaller meals is that, like eating slower, it helps you avoid stuffing yourself, which isn't great for digestion and, frankly, feels terrible.

4. Eat More Fiber

I'd need a whole separate article to explain all the benefits of fiber, but one of the most important things it does is to act like a broom to sweep your food down the intestinal hallway and shove what you don't use out the back door. Insoluble fiber is especially good for this and can be found in whole grains, seeds, nuts, and fruit and veggie skins.

But keep in mind, there is too much of a good thing. If you plan to up your fiber, do it slowly, maybe increasing it 5 grams a day. Otherwise, there's a good chance that you'll find yourself with a serious case of the toots. For most people, between 25 grams and 50 grams daily is a good range.

5. Eat Less Fried and Greasy Food

Fried ShrimpThis isn't an excuse to get you to eat less junk. Some fat in your diet is a good thing, but too much can overwhelm your system, which is why heartburn and acid reflux are common when you eat one Buffalo wing too many. They're also a trigger for diarrhea, so they're basically nailing your tract on both sides. On the other hand, not eating enough dietary fat can cause constipation, so make sure you get enough healthy fats in your diet, including omega-3 fatty acids from fish and flax, as well as nuts, avocados, seeds, and "good" oils such as extra-virgin olive oil and coconut oil.

6. Supplement Your Diet With, Um, Supplements

All along your gastrointestinal tract are proteins called enzymes that break down the various macronutrients you've eaten. A few of the better known ones include protease, which breaks down protein; lipase, which breaks down fat; and amylase, which breaks down carbs. If you don't think they're doing the job, you can supplement with more digestive enzymes. Shakeology® happens to have an excellent enzyme blend that includes all the above-mentioned enzymes—and more.

Another supp proven to aid digestion are probiotics. Once food gets to your small intestine, a whole ecosystem of bacteria aid in breaking it down. Unfortunately, "bad" bacteria can often overwhelm "good" bacteria, so it's a good idea to send reinforcements down there from time to time in the form of probiotics. Shakeology also happens to contain an excellent probiotic strain: lactobacillus sporogenes, which has been proven to promote bowel health.

You can also get healthy bacteria from fermented foods like yogurt, kimchee, and kombucha.

7. Get Some Exercise

And you thought Brazil Butt Lift® was just for your rump! Working out helps keep things moving down south in a number of ways. It speeds up your metabolism, which speeds up digestion; it promotes blood flow, which makes all systems in your body run smoother; and it tones the muscles in your digestive tract. Now you can tell people you have a six-pack colon. (Don't actually do that. It's a joke.)

8. Keep a Food Journal

If you have digestive issues, you could have a food intolerance. The usual culprits are dairy, soy, and gluten. There are also foods that cause "intestinal discomfort" for many people, including beans and artificial sweeteners. Keeping track of everything you eat allows you to look for patterns in your digestion. When things aren't working properly, you can look back and make connections between that and what you ate, and if you're also tracking your exercise, your activity level. Also, if you get to the point that you need to see a nutritionist or dietician, they're going to ask you to journal anyway, so you might as well get a jump on the process. Just get yourself a notebook and write down everything you eat and drink, as well as how it makes you feel. (Here's a tip: "Bloated and gassy" is usually a bad sign.)

Digestion should come naturally. Unfortunately, in the age of processed food and sedentary lifestyles, it may need a little help. So follow these tips. With a little fine-tuning—and a lot of fiber—you'll be able to tell your bowels who's boss in no time.

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Avoid the "Newlywed 15"

By Kara Wahlgren

Weddings can be a fantastic weight-loss motivator. But marriage? Not so much. Between home-cooked meals, cozy nights on the couch, and the comfort of knowing you've found someone who loves you no matter what, it's not long until many newlyweds start seeing the pounds pile on. In fact, a study from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill found that married twentysomethings gained an average of 6 to 9 pounds more than their single peers.1 But unlike a tacky gift from your Aunt Betty, you don't have to graciously accept the Newlywed 15. Here are a few simple ways to keep marital bliss from doing a number on your midsection.

Newlyweds Enjoying a Meal

Shut the party down.

Booze at the bachelor party, gourmet cupcakes at the bridal shower, buttered hors d'oeuvres at the cocktail hour, a post-wedding brunch—once your wedding is over, it can be hard to break out of that celebratory mindset. "This habit can be tough to kick," says Lance Breger, a certified health coach and President of Infinity Wellness Partners. But your honeymoon is a good place to start. That doesn't mean shacking up at a detox spa—or even abandoning your poolside cabana to slog away on the hotel treadmill. "The goal is to maintain, not gain," Breger says. "Follow a simple 1-2-3 formula: aim for one hour of physical activity each day, limit alcohol consumption to two drinks a day, and eat three balanced meals each day, which allows you to savor special treats throughout the vacation."

Set new goals.

Couple Running

For months, you focused on cutting weight for your wedding—but do you have a game plan after the big day is behind you? "Many couples aim their health and fitness efforts squarely on the date of their wedding, but don't have any vision for what's next," Breger says. To keep from shifting into cruise control, find something else to strive for together. "Successful couples will set their next goal, like registering for a 5K four to six weeks after the wedding."

This might even be a good time to finally start a round of that Beachbody® program you've been eying. FOCUS T25®, anyone?

Don't share bad habits.

You're sharing everything from the mortgage payment to the coffeemaker, but don't let that what's-mine-is-yours mentality extend to your unhealthy habits. "Two things to keep an eye on are watching too much TV and hanging out on the internet together," Mary Duke Smith, a personal trainer and fitness instructor in the Washington D.C. area, cautions. "Both of these sedentary behaviors can lead to hours of near-immobility without you even realizing it." You know when you see a married couple commenting on each other's Facebook® statuses while they're sitting right next to each other? Yeah—don't do that.

Play together.

There's nothing wrong with falling into a comfy routine, as long as it's a healthy one. Instead of vegging in front of the TV, get hooked on a hobby you can enjoy together. "Try rock climbing!" Smith suggests. "You need two people—one managing the belay and one climbing—and you have lots of opportunities to practice good communication, build trust, have fun, and get in shape." Even a nightly walk around the neighborhood will give you time to de-stress and talk without distractions.

Keep a healthy kitchen.

Couple Cooking

It's easy to get into a rut of cooking quick meals and comfort foods, but planning and preparing meals with your spouse can actually be a great way to connect. "Consider taking a cooking class together," Smith says. Not only will it give you a chance to learn something new together, but it'll instantly change your diet for the better. "Prepackaged foods often have more salt, fat, and sugar than what you'd cook yourself," Smith notes. Also, who knows what silly moments can happen when you cook together in the kitchen!

Keep each other in check.

Okay, so what if you notice the Newlywed 15 creeping up? It can be awkward to broach the topic of your spouse's spare tire, but it's better to (tactfully!) nip it in the bud before it becomes a health issue. "My husband and I ran into this situation," Smith says. "We found that focusing the discussion on longevity and the ability do to the things you want to do—rather than on appearance—was most helpful. Be patient and encouraging, and help your spouse find ways to be more active and eat more healthfully." Well, that . . . and keeping the Doritos® out of the house.


1. Entry into Romantic Partnership is Associated with Obesity

Did you gain the Newlywed 15? How did you lose it? Email us at

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Recipe: Kale Chips

(Makes 4 servings, 1 cup each)

Kale Chips
For a healthy, crunchy snack high in vitamin A, look no further!

Total Time: 28 min.
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 18 min.


  • 1 bunch (about 6 oz.) kale leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Remove kale leaves from stems. Tear leaves into bite-sized pieces. Discard stems.
  3. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner or paper towel.
  4. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper, if desired.
  5. Combine leaves and oil in medium bowl; toss gently to blend.
  6. Add desired flavoring combinations; mix well.
  7. Arrange kale on prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
  8. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until crisp.
  9. Transfer onto a wire rack or paper towels; cool.

Nutritional Information: (per serving)

Calories Fat Saturated Fat Cholesterol Sodium Carbs Fiber Sugar Protein
51 4 g 1 g 0 mg 18 mg 4 g 1 g 0 g 1 g

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at

Body Beast and P90X®/P90X2® Portion Information

P90X/P90X2 Nutritional Information:
Single Snack

Body Beast Nutritional Information:
Vegetables Fat
1 1/2

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at

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