Sure, salads can be healthy, nutrient-packed options, but depending on the toppings, they can rack up as many calories as an ice cream sundae. The safest path to leafy heaven is to lay off the dressing and order it on the side. Why? Well, dressing can add an absurd number of calories to an otherwise healthy salad, not to mention excess sodium and fat. Knowing how to eat a salad can keep that supposedly healthy meal from flipping over to the dark side. Turns out there’s an actual technique for gobbling those greens.

To Fork Or Not To Fork – The Takeaway

A basic ranch dressing contains 274 calories per two ounces (about four tablespoons). Yikes. That’s more than three times the number of calories contained in the veggies themselves. Even a light Italian can pack on the calories and, remember, fat-free doesn’t mean calorie-freeSupermarket smarts. Salad dressing. Holzmeister, LA. Diabetes Self Management 2005 Jan-Feb;22(1):91-6.. Fortunately, there’s a compromise to keep our waistlines in check while enjoying our greens at the same time by using one of man’s greatist creations: a fork. The fork method is an ancient tradition handed down through the ages by healthy eaters everywhere. Well, maybe it’s not so ancient, but it is a great trick to drastically cut salad dressing calories without sacrificing flavor:

1) Order salad dressing on the side.

2) Before sticking the fork into the salad, dip the fork in the dressing. Tap off any excess liquid then go in for the green.

With each bite, the flavor of the salad dressing comes through, but with way less dressing consumed. Imagine feeling the lettuce crunch instead of squish. And instead of scarfing up a ¼ cup of dressing or more, the fork method generally uses less than two tablespoons, which means that ranch dressing now only adds about 91 calories. So, lettuce pray: Give us the strength to order the dressing on the side, and let the fork be with us.

The Tip

Order the dressing on the side and try the fork method. Save calories and fat– and even taste the lettuce and veggies. Updated October 2011