When people think "health food" they often think SALAD!
You see it all the time. It is what is popularized in sitcoms, commercials, movies, and more. I still remember seeing the Stephen King movie "IT" and one of the main protagonists was chubby as a child. The adult version of him is slim. Everyone was like "WHAT IS YOUR SECRET"??? and his answer "SALAD" (and working out, but mostly SALAD). That has stuck with me for, what, twenty years now?
The idea that SALADS are health food is pretty deeply ingrained.
And to be clear I am not saying that they aren't healthy, but what I am saying is that they are not always the most supportive food.
So let's break it down into 4 reasons I don't love a salad:
REASON #1 - DIGESTION
We live in a world of compromised digestion. Most people have issues in their upper and lower GI. Issues like gas, bloating, acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, distension, belching, and so on. When digestion isn't up to snuff eating raw vegetables can be super tough. It takes a lot of work to break down the outer barrier of a plant i.e. the cellulose. Which needs to happen to extract all the lovely nutrients (aka vitamins and minerals) inside. Raw veggies can irritate rather than support the gut.
A good alternative is cooked vegetables. You can do stews, roasted veggies, lightly steamed, pan fried, slow cooked roasts with vegetables, and even juicing (at times). There are a TON of other ways to get the nutrition in without aggravating your digestive tract.
REASON #2 - SATIETY
Now, this depends on the salad. If you have a salad with a ton of chicken or if it is a steak salad - you may not face this problem. However if your meal is JUST A SALAD and it is mostly leafy goodness reaching a point of satiation can be elusive. You might reach it in the moment, but how soon after are you craving something again? When a salad is just leaves and a few vegetables - you aren't getting a lot of fuel in and it is natural to crave something shortly after.
REASON #3 - HIDDEN SUGAR & BAD OIL
This is really a question about dressing and the quality of the dressing. A lot, a lot, a lot, of dressings contain a crap ton of sugar. And a lot, a lot, a lot, of dressings - even good organic dressings - use highly processed canola or vegetable oil which is awful for the body. These fats are damaged which causes inflammation in the body and the creation of free radicals (which we do not love). Why are they damaged? The high heat process used to create these oils is the problem. Fats are unstable, exposing them to high heats and then putting them on a store shelf (in a clear plastic bottle) is a sure fire way to get crappy quality oil. And bad fat is just a bucket full of harm.
REASON #4 - NUTRIENT DENSITY
This again depends on the type of salad. There are a lot of fantastic salads out there, but there are also a ton of really bare bone, not so awesome salads. Pay attention to what is in the salad. Is it iceberg lettuce or mixed greens? Are there organic, locally grown, in season vegetables or off-season, bulk bought, commercially grown vegetables? It matters.
Salads CAN be a great option, especially if your gut health is optimal, but really be mindful of what is in the salad.
Just because it is a salad, doesn't make it health food.
But if you are going to eat salad, here is one I love and endorse: http://www.brainbodygut.com/blog/2014/11/28/rainbow-kale-salad-with-a-peppery-kick-recipe