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What is a salad? Merriam Webster Dictionary tells us that a salad is any of the various “usually cold dishes” including raw greens, vegetables and toppings. Salads can be further picked apart from a culinary perspective, but that isn’t for the discussion here. Most often, and for purposes here, it’s raw vegetables drizzled with an olive oil, vinegar and herbs topping. Salads are a great addition to a meal, in some region’s salads are eaten after a meal to help with the digestive processing. That’s an appropriate use of salad. In summertime salads fresh from the garden are also appropriate. It’s when salads take over as meal, particularly in colder months or days, or in a person with a colder constitution or struggling with their health, that there becomes the potential for health concerns.

Those of us around in the 80’s and 90’s can remember a salad trend that seemed to be the answer to keeping a healthy weight, digestive regularity, and getting enough vegetables. Salads also fit convenience culture as the preparation is all in the chopping. Since there’s no cooking that cuts down on the hour(s) foods must rest in the oven or simmer stovetop.

Yet, that is where we have forgotten that there is a reason for cooking food. Not just meat, but vegetables are also often healthier for reasons other than killing potential harmful microorganisms; it’s pre-digestion. A wonderful illustration of this is the character for* Qi,

shows that what creates qi is the fire beneath the cooking of the rice, and the product literally and metaphorically here is the steam rising.

Everything needs some warmth, as it needs all of the elements, but especially the stomach. With digestion the stomach needs most the warmth of the fire element and of yang, like the rice needs the fire to cook, classic symbols like a cauldron over a fire conjure images or soup and herbal preparations that are comforting, healing, and in times of need potentially life-saving. Soup is a go-to for the sick, elderly, or weak, for the reason that vegetables are ideally predigested by having cooked longer in broth, where minerals have been infused making them ideally accessible. At the same time the fiber in the vegetables is broken down and easier on the body, taking less energy to assimilate and process. Salad being mixed up a as health giving meal, rather than a side breaks diets and is hard on digestion.

When salads are the plan and then salads are not an answer that works out, it’s back to the old diet of toast, cereals, corn chips, and corn bread. It’s not that I eat perfectly, but that I’ve gone through the salad cycle too, and end up right back on grains. With an A1C that’s near the borderline due to genetic predisposition. Incorporating and loving foods that don’t raise insulin to unhealthy levels, and expose the teeth to high levels of grain sugars is a good place to start. Here’s a few examples of food that replace grains, are not salads, and can make excellent meals:

Pinto Beans

Preparaton ideas: vegetable chili, pinto beans go well with meat, homemade salsa, refried beans with *lard, coconut oil, or *butter. Spice it up with cumin, coriander, paprika, roasted chilis. Add cacao or cocoa for exotic savoriness.

Chickpeas:

Preparation ideas: hummus, falafel (pictured below), add on top of a side salad.

Spice salads up with dressings made of warm mustards, cayenne pepper, ginger, and garlic if that is your style

Remember lacto-fermented foods: sauerkraut, kimchi, pickled cabbages and other types of fermented foods are not considered salad. They’re predigested in the fermentation process

RAW foods are also more than salads, in a true raw foodist diet the ingredients which consist often of nuts mixed with vegetables or fruits, are also pre-digested by soaking in a solution with an acidic component such as lemon which is widely known to soften foods such as in brining or marinating.

Signs of Salad Syndrome (heading towards rebound)

  • Indigestion – stomach pain, acid reflux, heart burn
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea or loose stools, undigested food in stools
  • Feeling cold and unable to get warm

May increase sinusitis, seasonal allergy symptoms, or induce flare ups of other constitutional tendencies including headaches, arthritis, and lowered immunity.

  1. *Qi in Chinese Medicine, the type of Qi that is considered energy and referred to in Qi Gong, and how acupuncture moves Qi. Since each sound has several meanings depending on toneation and not simply the written in English translation (pinyin)
  2. *Lard Is a known dietary source of Vitamin D
  3. *Butter provides alpha-linolenic acid which protects the body against cancer, diabetes, and enhances immunity

* butter slows cancer growths https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/129/12/2135/4722136?login=true

This article is part of a growing series on diet and achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

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