Salad Sadness; Why doesn't salad for lunch work for me?
September 12, 2013 9:28 PM   Subscribe

Today I had salad for lunch. Greens, carrot, cabbage, roasted pepper, crunchy noodles and Asian style dressing (in a pack from the grocery store) and I added a single serve can of pink salmon. It was yum, but it left me feeling starving! I could have eaten another lunch on top of that. I've lasted an hour now and I'm ravenously hungry. Why? What is going on?

Do I need more protien? Maybe more for breakfast? Or do I need to aclimatise to eating salad for lunch? I see some awesome salad recipes but one look and I feel hungry. I love making my lunch for work and I'd love some help to make yummy and satisfying salads to eat for lunch. Thank you.
posted by Youremyworld to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I need both fat and protein in substantial amounts if a salad is going to fill me up. Also, I find that those salad packs have a very small amount of vegetable and that you can up those significantly without adding many more calories. My suggestions: huuuuuuge pile of veggies, a full serving of protein (3-4 oz), and a full-fat dressing or cheese.
posted by Night_owl at 9:45 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yep, more protein and fat are key to feeling satiated. Add in things like hard-boiled eggs, avocado, cheese, nuts, and/or creamy dressing.
posted by scody at 9:48 PM on September 12, 2013 [6 favorites]

Also if you are used to heavier meals then yes it will take some time for the stomach to shrink, at which point you will feel full on less. Personally I find it varies as well... some days I am hungrier than others.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:05 PM on September 12, 2013

That asian dressing is basically corn syrup. But yeah, I buy salad kits in an emergency, and then put an extra set of toppings on - chicken, egg, roasted sesame seeds or pecans, cheese, avocado, etc.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:10 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sprinkle on ground flax seed for extra dietary fiber (it has a nutty flavor that goes with most anything), and bring way more salad than you think you'll want until you figure out how much you need to feel satisfied. When salad is my meal, I'll easily eat the better part of a head of (non-iceberg) lettuce. I also like olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a dressing with crumbled feta cheese and/or cashews. And now it's midnight here and I'm hankering for a salad.
posted by teremala at 10:13 PM on September 12, 2013

Definitely more fat. Try a combo of nuts and seeds - almonds/pecans/cashews/pistachios + sunflower/sesame/flax whatever you've got, plus another protein and a good oil in the dressing. You can go for primarily cabbage and hardier greens and forgo most of the lettuce, particularly if you enjoy the taste of things like raw kale (give it a try!), and then use peppery greens sparingly, like arugula and radicchio, which will hold up to a heartier dressing better. Eggs are awesome; if you're concerned about the yolks try egg whites diced up - they'll take on the flavor of the dressing more than anything else. Salmon and avocado are a tried and tested combo of deliciousness and good fats. You can also do things like cold roasted vegetables in salads, even roasted potatoes, but peppers, eggplant, parsnips, all the classics can have a great sweetness and chewiness when cold and dressed in a salad.

You might also want to be sure to bring some snacks for midmorning and early afternoon, just so you don't get ravenously hungry at any point. Then there will be less monotony if you're just eating your salad for lunch - you can have three different flavor profiles a day.
posted by Mizu at 10:23 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I link this often, but it's because it's so good. Massaged kale salad comes in a million variations -- I do it with red cabbage, apples, raisins, sunflower seeds, whatever else I have around, and a simple apple cider vinaigrette dressing. It always leaves me feeling sated for hours afterward, unlike many other salads. It actually decreases my snacky desire in a way I don't fully understand. The cabbage in strips means it takes a lot of chewing, and it has a good salt/lemon base with bright apple above and sugar-burst raisins. A lot of people use avocado in the dressing for a good fatty base too.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:33 PM on September 12, 2013 [15 favorites]

The other benefit of the kale salad is that it keeps well, so works well as a make-ahead.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:36 PM on September 12, 2013

If it were me I would throw an avocado on. And I would be bringing a LOT of salad in, in terms of lettuce and (especially) other vegetables. Then when I get full I can save whatever's left to have as an afternoon snack if/when I get hungry again.

The portion size I'd pack probably would be a few cups of lettuce, and an entire sliced bell pepper, an avocado, two tomatoes, and a piece of fruit. And odds are I would leave one of the tomatoes and maybe the fruit for the next day... but it's worth having a little extra healthy and delicious food available just to avoid talking myself in to a Snickers bar mid-afternoon.
posted by Lady Li at 11:33 PM on September 12, 2013

I came into the thread to say that I don't see ANY fat in that salad, and maybe not enough protein either. And maybe not enough complex carbs either!

Rather than the crunchy noodles I'd switch up to something whole grain with a lot more bulk and substance, maybe some nice thick whole grain noodles. Crunchy noodles seem like something that would just spike your blood sugar without giving you very much nutrition or satisfaction.

Protein, maybe try another half can or whole can of salmon, or maybe some nuts or avocado or tofu or quinoa, as you like.

Fats - again, nuts/avocado, or maybe an oilier or creamier dressing or hummus. Also, I may be insane, but I LOVE to slice up carrots and sautee them until they are soft, I could eat that all day and it is super filling. However, I think I could chomp on uncooked carrots until I ate every carrot in the grocery store and still be hungry. There's just something about the oil that makes them totally different. Don't forget that a lot of vitamins are fat soluble, so you may not be getting everything in the veggies that you think you are if there's no fat.
posted by cairdeas at 1:27 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would say the lack of complex carbs too - perhaps adding a can of chickpeas, beans or other pulses would be a good way to go?
posted by Middlemarch at 2:18 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the Asian dressing is corn syrup which makes you hungry. Nthing that there seems to be no fat in the salad either.

Basically you're hungry because you haven't eaten enough! Go get some food! (Not a donut.)
posted by tel3path at 5:34 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

In my experience also, fat is necessary. I remember coming home from work feeling like I was starving once and fixing a large salad with no dressing (I don't like most dressings), eating it, and being just as hungry again ten minutes later. I made another large salad, and the same thing happened. At which point I remembered that fat slows the emptying of the stomach, and made a third salad, this time with grated cheese sprinkled on it, and that did the trick.
posted by telophase at 8:02 AM on September 13, 2013

This happens to me too, which is why I tend to make lunch my heaviest meal instead and eat salad for dinner. I have no problem skipping dinner, but if I skip lunch or breakfast, I am pretty much screwed.

Suggesting a denser salad with grains, whole grain pasta, nuts, legumes, nice olive oil-type dressing. However, if you're me, that probably won't even work. Some people need more energy at different times of the day!
posted by gohabsgo at 8:04 AM on September 13, 2013

I'm guessing that the single serve can of pink salmon was one of those little 3 ounce ones I see at the store. On a salad, that's just not enough substance. I would try to shoot for at least 5-6 ounces of protein in your lunch (or more, completely dependent on your dietary goals/preferences). Also, joining everyone else in saying it needs some more healthy fat. A salmon salad would just be begging me to put some avocado on it. I often even use guacamole as my salad "dressing" when I'm on the go and can't make my own dressing. It's delicious, good for you and filling.
posted by Vonnegut27 at 10:23 AM on September 13, 2013

i have ate a salad every day for lunch for almost a year! i usually have arugula on the bottom, because it's the only leafy green i like, and usually a chopped tomato or two.

here is what works for me -- i need to then also add at least one significant carb, one significant fat, and one significant protein. i pick from this list mostly. some of the categories sort of overlap a bit.

carbs (sometimes also protein)
berries of any kind (1/2 pint)
a few cups of cubed watermelon
black beans
chick peas
diced pears
diced peaches

black beans
1/4 chicken
3 eggs
chopped genoa salami
crumbled bacon

handful of almonds
1/2 avocado
olive oil
low-fat feta cheese (still fat, and lots of protein too)
low fat boccoccini (same)

straight up, i just had to make a list of all the foods i actually LOVED and would like to eat in salads every day. like, i am NEVER going to get excited about peppers of any kind, so why was i buying them? i'm an athlete & require a lot of food, and this keeps me really satiated. if you find it's not enough, just add some more protein + fat until you find something that works for you :)

good luck!
posted by crawfo at 11:09 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

How much salad are you eating? I eat salad for lunch a lot, and pack full a 6 cup container. Fats definitely help. I like getting a container of guacamole or hummus and mixing in a tablespoon or two. Works better than dressing.
posted by hooray at 12:23 PM on September 13, 2013

My favorite salad, from Allie's Deli in Minneapolis:
Mixed salad greens
Scoop of chicken salad (chicken, mayo, celery, pepper)
Fresh melon & strawberries
Homemade crutons

Dressing is optional due to the chicken salad. Fills me up, soo good!
posted by stompadour at 2:15 PM on September 13, 2013

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