The ‘Salad Bar’ Delusion

One day last week my alarm didn’t go off, and so I was up late, and didn’t have time to make my lunch… 🙁 As a result, I had...

One day last week my alarm didn’t go off, and so I was up late, and didn’t have time to make my lunch… 🙁

As a result, I had to buy my lunch. People from the office sometimes go down to the supermarket to go to the salad bar, so I thought this once I would join them.

Now, when you think of a salad, what do you think of?

I was quite surprised to see what can be classed as a ‘salad’ these days. To me, a salad is largely vegetables based (particularly leafy ones) perhaps with some seasoned meat and maybe an olive oil based dressing etc. Generally pretty low carb, clean and lean food. Salads tend to be a healthy option, something like this picture:

At this salad bar, there was one option for some leafy stuff, 1 or 2 bean based options, and a few other healthy looking options, but it seemed there was much more unhealthy stuff. Things like pasta in sauce (2 or 3 different types), grated cheese (which looked highly processed), new potatoes in some sort of sauce etc…lots of things were in ‘some sort of sauce’, and the ones I had were quite sweet. There wasn’t any chicken, or fish, or any meat that I could see. There were many options which I would not consider to be clean, lean, healthy or even a salad.

Just to make sure I don’t have the wrong idea of what a salad was, I decided to use ‘Google define’, to see what the definition of a salad is, and the result was:

“A cold dish of various mixtures of raw or cooked vegetables, usually seasoned with oil, vinegar, or other dressing and sometimes accompanied by meat, fish, or other ingredients”

I’m pretty much spot on with my definition then, although I know that the ‘other ingredients’ part is pretty vague, and basically means ‘anything else’.

So, this salad bar didn’t really offer much in the way of a salad, most of the food was high in calories and simple carbohydrates. Yes there were healthy options, but by calling every food option a ‘salad’, I think many people will be deluded into thinking it is all the same, and it is all healthy.

And then there are the portions!

I have quite a good appetite, and decided to go for a large portion (thinking that a large salad isn’t going to be really filling), and I could just about eat half of it. As humans, we try and eat everything we are given, especially if we like the taste, this was demonstrated nicely by the never ending soup bowl experiment. I really did want to eat the whole portion at first, and even though I knew most of the food wasn’t a salad, in my head I still thought of it as a salad, and half way through I remember wondering why I couldn’t manage much more. It was only later when I was thinking about it that I realized, and I did feel tricked.

So, by calling this food station a salad bar, I think people are almost tricked into choosing to buy food from there under the impression it is healthy. I wonder if they would still buy from there if it was called The Sugar Station, or The Calorie Counter…

Image courtesy of alui0000

I hope you enjoy the site, and like what we have worked hard to create, any feedback is very much welcome, after all this site is for you! Graduate of Nutrition & Food Science (Bsc) at Reading Uni.

    The Health Cloud was created in December 2011 by Craig and Morg who have been friends since high school. Our focus is to educate our readers with unbiased health articles and on the side we run our own online health shop. This website is for you, so drop us a comment or send us a tweet, we always take the time to reply!