My favorite patients are the ones who come in with their hoity-toity food journals that say things like:“Lunch:mixed greens with a spray of olive oil, 1/2 carrot, 2 walnuts. Sparkling water.”

“I eat a lot of salad,” they say. 

“Gross,” I say, then assume they find joy in their lives with a Netflix or porn addiction, because it sure as hell isn’t coming from lunch.

One of the most major deterrents of a healthy diet is the assumption that eating well has to be miserable, dissatisfying, and generally sad. This can be the case if one equates eating healthy with buying giant boxes of mixed baby greens and changing the color of their stool one well-chewed meal at a time. This is a recipe for failure because after about three days of that, even gas station burritos start sounding pretty sexy.

The truth is, you probably do need to eat more vegetables.  For this reason, the gods have placed an impressive variety of such things on the planet for us, though we seem to stick to an average of about seven regular vegetables. If we’re feeling particularly exotic, we might throw some tomatoes or bell peppers on our salads. 

The risk we run in eating limited variety, other than indigestion from deli corn dogs, is that we are not getting enough of the vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids we need from those meals. The cravings we get when we go on ‘health kicks’ are often not just withdrawal, but your body reminding you that it likes fat for a reason (brain health, hormone production, cell membrane integrity, and oh yeah, deliciousness). 

When we eat “light” lunches, we often find ourselves calorie and happiness-deficient by dinnertime. This leads to pre-dinner eating, dinner over eating, post-dinner grazing, and crawling into bed with a bunch of extra calories and carbohydrates on board. So do yourself a favor, and stop eating rabbit food. Yeah, you with the carrot and celery sticks in your snack pack. Put some peanut butter on those babies.

If you like to pack or go out for a salad for lunch, by all means, it is a greatway to get a lot of vegetables in your body. But don’t forget to load that honey up with some goodness. Here are some ideas:

Good fats:Avocados, walnuts, toasted almonds, pecans, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, flax meal, oils (olive, walnut, sesame, avocado, etc.), cold water fish (salmon, halibut, mackerel), goat and other cheeses if you’re a dairy eater, a beautiful vinaigrette (this does not mean some nasty ranch dressing). 

Good protein: Sprouted beans and legumes, fish, chicken, steak, micro greens (which, by the way, are like 5 times more nutrient dense than salad), bacon – yeah, bacon.Just remember that industrial meat is carcinogenic and those cow farts are apparently impacting global warming. Get your meat clean, local, and preferably sung a sweet lullaby before its peaceful passing.

Good carbohydrates: No, they are not all created equal. For example, sweet potato has far more fiber, manganese, potassium, and vitamin C than a white potato. Sweet potato, quinoa, parsnip, roasted beets, squashes, Brussel sprouts, whole grains, and fresh fruit. Who doesn’t love blackberries on their salad with some goat cheese, roasted beets, and smoked salmon?

The next time you’re making yourself a salad for lunch or dinner, use the lettuce like it’s the fluffy bed space for all the other goodness you’re going to nourish your body with. You might even find that you are still full two hours later. And if you are actually happy, then you’ve done a fine job. //