Beware: Salads Can Be Calorie-Heavy

Eating healthy can be difficult. Even foods we think are good for us can trip us up if we're not careful.

For instance -- you wouldn't expect a salad to have more calories than a Big Mac. But it can, points out registered dietician Keri Glassman, who says an unhealthy salad can easily have as many as 1,100 calories -- about half a day's normal intake for many people.

Many of us think eating at a salad bar is healthier than having pizza or burgers but, if you don't make the right choices, you can be eating a lot more calories than you thought, Glassman cautions.

She says not all salads are created equal -- the salad bar can easily mean calories galore if you're not careful.

The keys, she said on The Early Show Monday, are the choices we make, and the size of the portions we consume. Additions to your greens can equal big calories counts.

Glassman says common pitfalls include:

1. Loading on too much cheese
2. Fried, crispy items such as croutons or crispy noodles
3. High-sugar choices, such as dried cranberries or sugar-coated nuts
4. Fried chicken as opposed to grilled
5. Anything mayo-based, such as tuna salads or chicken salads
6. Dressings, for which portion control is essential: You can easily eat four times the amount of dressing you should if you're not careful.

The good way to load up on your salad, according to Glassman:

1. Load on the veggies, especially the dark, green, leafy ones. Use them to fill yourself up, and to get different flavors and textures.
2. Choose lean proteins. Protein helps keep you fuller.

Glassman stresses that it's really the extras is where people mess up. You don't want to add nuts, dressings, and cheese, because that could mean getting way too much fat.