By Dr. Scott Rosenthal
How much of your hard-earned cash is dished out for take-out or eat-in lunch each year? Never considered it? The total is about $3000 if you buy it Monday through Friday, 50 weeks out of the year. Besides the perceived convenience, what do you really get for those 3000 bucks? In other words, what’s the cost to your waistline, heart, colon, brain, energy levels, work productivity, and ability to concentrate?
Bought meals (restaurant take-out, fast food, food trucks, pizza, etc.), on average, have more calories, saturated fats, salt and/or sugar than is optimum for health promotion. The real cost to this “convenience” is more than monetary. It’s an erosion of your comfort, health and productivity, and will likely lead to higher doctor’s bills down the road.
A better option exists, takes far less time than running out to purchase lunch, and puts about $1500 dollars back into your bank account each year. It provides a healthier choice that is sure to dramatically improve your health, energy levels, and ability to function at your best. All you have to lose are inches and pounds. Please come closer so I can whisper in your ear. As an added bonus, “you will also have larger and more regular bowel movements.” You will feel lighter and more comfortable.
The secret lunch food that I am referring to comes in a magic box of convenience. It is found in every grocery store, in every town, and is even discounted at the wholesale clubs. It costs only $5-7 and can provide you and your family miraculously with many meals throughout the week. Amazingly, it is triple washed— as if single or double washed was not already enough (mind blowing huh?). It comes in different colors and sizes and is full of life. “What’s in the box,” you say? Before I reveal the contents, did I mention that it fits easily on most refrigerator shelves?
Ladies and gentleman, weighing in at one pound, hailing from America’s sunny fields, bursting with nutrients and fiber and prewashed for quick action, I present to you, “The Salad.” Wait, wait. Please don’t turn the page looking for another article. Give me a chance to explain how my champion can knock-out your current food choices.
Lettuce is full of phytonutrients. When found in plants, these organic compounds are believed to promote health and help prevent disease. The most well-know are the carotenoids, especially the orange-red-yellow pigment beta-carotene. Converted to Vitamin A in your body, beta-carotene (from lettuce and other vegetable sources) provides about 50% of your vitamin A needs. Having plenty of beta-carotene in your diet has been shown to help prevent certain cancers and heart disease. It also fights the development of cataracts and skin disorders such as psoriasis and vitiligo.
Besides all of the beneficial vitamins, minerals and other compounds, lettuce helps keep your pipes clean and can be a welcomed mouthful for those suffering from constipation. Its high cellulose content adds bulk to your intestinal tract and encourages peristalsis (the wave of contraction within the intestines).
Lettuce is also high in mineral salts and helps restore balance when you are very acidic. Our bodies are meant to be at a pH of 7.4 (anything below a 7.0 is acidic). When your body is acidic (called acidosis), it is thought to encourage the unwanted growth of fungus, bacteria and viruses. Your body can become acidic from lack of exercise, stress, and the consumption of foods such as milk, coffee, heated fats and animal derived products.
Being high in nutrients and very low in calories, lettuce can also be a valuable friend in the quest to lose weight. The bulk that lettuce provides brings a sense of fullness sooner. How many times have you heard, “I WISH I could eat as much as I want!” If it's lettuce you’re eating, you essentially can! I personally value my BIG salad meal, especially during long days at my practice. I pack a feed-bag sized salad. It gives me a full belly and great energy levels for working with patients. I also find that despite the huge amount of salads I eat, my nearing-age-50 body remains at a healthy weight.
I could delve further into detail about the minerals, vitamins and other valuables such as chlorophyll in lettuce, but there is a more exciting turn to take in this article! After all, you already know that when mum said to eat your veggies— she was onto something.
As a true salad connoisseur, I would like to share with you my favorite toss. It is quick, tasty and will keep you full throughout the afternoon. I take it to work in a large glass bowl with a locking cover and bring my own homemade salad dressing in a glass bottle (just reuse a store-bought one).
The Main Bowlful:
I use vinaigrette containing extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar. It is seasoned with sea salt, oregano flakes and smoked paprika. The dressing is a place where you can be creative and change it up to keep it interesting. When you are ready to eat, pour in your dressing, close the lid and shake vigorously.
The benefits of using organic ingredients are immense! If organic ingredients are unavailable, still eat this powerhouse of a meal. Even with pesticides, it’s still likely healthier than your old lunch choices.
Hopefully you are now motivated to eat more salad. With all of the positives that come with each mouthful, the extra $1500 dollars per year in your pocket will make eating salad feel like you just won the lottery. After all, a greener lunch not only equals improved health and vitality, but a greener wallet.