When I Eat Salad

Romaine, avocado, cucumber, fresh mozzarella, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt

Today I came home from work hungry.  I needed to throw in a load of laundry so I did that, then I ate 3 squares of Ghirardelli Intense Dark Sea Salt Soiree chocolate.  You think you love chocolate, until you eat it when you are actually hungry.  Then you realize you’ve been doing it wrong all along- chocolate when you are hungry is like chocolate X 100.  That’s how eating when you’re hungry really works.  It doesn’t take long to realize that everything tastes better when your body is signalling you to eat.  It’s like magic!

After I put my laundry in the dryer, I made the salad pictured above.  I’m still contemplating what else I’m going to eat this evening.  Maybe scrambled eggs.  Maybe frozen pizza (this brand, if you’re curious).  Maybe a steamed artichoke with lemon butter.  It depends on what I feel like later.  I may be more or less hungry.  One thing may appeal more than the other.  If I eat the pizza, I may only eat half of it.  Or maybe I will eat it all.  I will stop eating it when I am full.

When I eat salad, it’s usually one of several smaller meals or part of a larger plan.  I can make a salad that is dense enough to stand alone, and I do that sometimes.  Adding beans or tofu or nuts or seeds or some combination therein can make a salad quite hearty.

I asked my Facebook page what eating Real Food meant to them and got a variety of answers.  One thing that popped up a few times was the idea of only eating vegetables and fruits.  This is a question I’ve heard a lot lately in various places: How can you be full eating only salad or only vegetables?

So I wanted to address this idea of eating only produce.  I know that there are people who subsist only on fruits and vegetables, but I am not one of them!  I definitely need more.  If I were to eat only vegetables, I would have to eat so many of them, I would constantly be eating.  That does not seem practical to me, personally.

“Real Food” or whole foods (not the store, the concept) means different things to different people, but to me it most certainly does not mean only produce.  I consider these foods to be real food:

  • vegetables
  • fruit
  • beans & legumes
  • nuts & seeds
  • dairy
  • eggs
  • meat
  • grains

And anything you can make from a combination of those items.  If you think about it, that’s a lot of different food.

I don’t believe it is necessary to eat every item on that list.  This is where the individual preference comes in.  Personally, I don’t eat meat but I eat everything else.  My main reasons for not eating meat are: I don’t really like it, I don’t like cooking with it (it gives me the heebie jeebies), I just don’t want to.  IF I were to eat meat, I would prefer to eat non-factory farmed meat, which is quite expensive.  I’d prefer to have the money for more awesome produce!

Others may forgo all animal products.  Some do not like to eat grains.  It’s all good.  If you’re eating food off this list, especially if you’re cooking it yourself, I think you’re doing great!

This is not to say that I believe all processed foods are evil or will kill you or any such thing.  You may note that two of the food products I listed above are not 100% “clean”.  I eat chocolate and pizza.  And salad.

I eat a lot of salad, especially in the summer.  Salad is really all about wonderful fresh produce, which is abundant here and something I simply adore eating.

And that, in a nutshell, is my idea of eating for health.  Eat food and eat according to how you feel.   No other rules.  Some days eat more, some less.  Break the rules sometimes.  It has nothing to do with weight loss.  Could a person lose weight eating this way?  Sure!  Depends on the person though.  Can you make it more complicated than this?  Absolutely!  And it goes without saying that some people suffer from medical conditions that limit their food choices.

I spent countless hours reading about nutrition.  Each thing I read would be questioned or dis-proven by another thing I read.  Only one theme came up again and again: food is more than the sum of its parts.  If you extract the beta carotene from the carrot and ingest it, the effect is not the same as eating the carrot, it is less.  Eating fats (oil for example) with vegetables helps your body to absorb the vitamins and minerals in the vegetables.  Isn’t that interesting?  And isn’t putting oil on your salad the most natural thing anyway?  I would have done it whether some nutrition article told me I should or not.  I stopped reading shortly after that and just got back to cooking and eating and living.

19 thoughts on “When I Eat Salad

  1. that salad looks awesome……..I may make that one of these days……..

    I agree with you btw…….I am getting to where I may just start cooking and preparing things the best I can here at home, and when I go out not worry as much, just do the best I can, with maybe a few small indulgences. I’ll be less likely to binge that way, and it’d be a lot less stressful for me. I tend to stress about all the different rules sometimes since I’ve learned about what’s good and what isn’t, it’s a lot to handle, need to relax more and just trust I am going in the right direction even if I don’t eat perfect.

    I never knew that about vegetables and fats btw……..very interesting. Sidenote, just curious since you don’t eat meat, how do you compensate in your diet? Do ever find any negative side effects to not consuming it? I’m guessing not but just wondering what your experience is like with it.

    1. Yes, I found it very exhausting to try to micro-manage my diet!
      I’ve been vegetarian most of my life, so to me it is normal. I ate meat for several years (age 24-29) and that was the time I was most disengaged from my what I was eating. When I started thinking about trying to eat a healthier diet again, vegetarianism was the natural way to go.

      1. Yeah it’s hard, you get paranoid about what’s good and what’s bad, it can really make you crazy. And ah ok…….sounds like then your switching back was in part based on experience when you ate it then yes? Not judging when I say that btw, cause it seems to work for you how you eat now so more power to you on it, just from you how put it it seems as though you correlate eating meat now to not being engaged with what you’re eating as much as it not being good for you on a personal level.

      2. Yeah, I have so many reasons for not eating meat. I feel better not eating it. But the real reason is that for me to eat meat, I have to try not to think about what it is. The idea of eating dead animals is very off-putting to me. I would never kill an animal, not even a mouse. So I don’t feel right eating something I feel internally wrong about. When I used to cook chicken, I would imagine it was some sort of strange sea vegetable so I wouldn’t be disgusted by it. That just doesn’t seem right to me. My boyfriend eats meat, has no problem with it, is very aware of where it comes from and it doesn’t bother him. I really think it’s a very personal choice. But I don’t think you HAVE to give up meat to be healthy, quite the contrary. Some people become very unhealthy without it.

  2. I love and appreciate this post so much! Your description of that evening of eating was identical to many of my evenings. Thank you!

  3. You are spot on with everything you said. I, too, have OVER-READ all the different opinion about what you should and shouldn’t do and am trying now to listen to my body. In listening to it, I have found gluten and dairy to especially cause me problems, so I’m taking that into consideration in my food choices. I feel like I’ve stressed over eating most of my life, and I’m tired of putting myself through that! Thanks for your posts.

  4. Awesome post Kate. My personal motto is: If I only ate food I heard was “good” for me, I’d starve to death. My body and my soul is the only expert telling what I should and shouldn’t eat. BTW I just love your writing style, there is something very…I dunno, what’s the word… authentic and real about it.

  5. Kate, can I ask if you were vegetarian back when you were calorie counting and actively loosing weight (back in the day!)?
    I am carb counting to loose weight as I have quite a bit to loose ( I failed at the calorie counting and have to loose a bit of weight before a kidney procedure). I know you are eating intuitively which I value greatly. I just have to shift the first bit before surgery. I hope this isn’t a totally inappropriate question. Thank you

    1. I started calorie counting in 2009, lost 60 pounds in one year still eating meat. Returned to being vegetarian in 2010, continued to count calories and lose another 60 pounds. It didn’t make me lose weight any faster or slower, but it did make it easier. I can eat a lot more food in volume than I used to and it is still less calories because vegetarian dishes tend to be “fluffy”- lots of water and fiber for each calorie. It helped me to be less hungry all the time because without the calorie density of meats and processed foods, I ate a lot more volume for the same number of calories. Just my personal experience, not a prescription for anyone else.

      1. Thank you Kate. That makes sense. I plan to shift what I need to now and then my life goal is to become an intuitive eater like you. Thank you for the inspiration. I am grateful.
        As a side note is 1500 considered a very low calorie count or healthy in your past experience?

      1. Honestly, I just don’t really believe in calorie counting/dieting anymore. But if someone is going to do it, I think the best way to negate the harmful effects would be to be very moderate and gradual. Each person is different and has different needs, but one thing I am sure of is that most of the diet industry significantly underestimates the number of calories necessary and this creates a state where the body is prone to gaining weight. One of the greatest predictors of obesity is a history of dieting. Let that sink in a second.

        In her book, Why Calories Count, Marion Nestle talks about the science of the calorie. An average woman burns more than the USDA 2000 calorie recommendation. 2000 calories was chosen because it is a nice round number people can remember (how scientific!) For men the number is greater.

        This varies from individual to individual. Results may vary. Again, this is my personal opinion from what I have read and experienced- I know it is not the mainstream opinion. Always do what works for you in your life.

  6. Loved your post on Fit Woman blog today! I definitely identify with that last paragraph here. There is a ton of contradicting nutrition advice out there, and even though I’ve spent years studying it, choosing food is simple. Like you said, choosing real food and cooking is a great way to live.

  7. Your salad looks amazing! I wish I could just get my avocados to be perfect – ripe, but not mouldy, because I love them in salad. I, too, love salad in the summer, but weirdly I do not like eating it in the winter. I do think there is probably a link to our bodies craving what is right for them based on seasonal produce, but i haven’t read enough on the topic. Do you have any knowledge of this? I’m definitely getting ready for my root veg-fest as we head into Autumn/Fall.
    P.s love your blog! ❤

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