Why You Should Try Eating Your Salad After Dinner

Eating salad after dinner may seem like a poor excuse for dessert, but hear us out. In many countries around the world, including Spain and Italy, waiting to serve the salad until after the main dish is the norm (per Swirled). 

There are actually a number of benefits to this common cultural practice. For starters, salad contains fiber-rich vegetables that can facilitate the digestion of a large meal (via Swirled). This is especially beneficial to anyone with difficulty digesting the final meal of the day or those who tend to experience constipation and other digestive discomforts. Italian Garden also points out that dressing the salad with a base of olive oil settles the stomach as olive oil aids in the production of gastrointestinal peptides, which help the body digest food.

Another reason to save the salad for last is to better control the portions you eat during the main course (via Swirled). You may end up eating less to save room for the nutritional punch of the salad. This leads into yet one more perk — if you're looking to abstain from eating sugary and high-fat dessert foods after dinner, consuming a salad instead may help keep those cravings at bay. You can even sprinkle a few dried fruits and nuts on top to add a little bit of dessert-like sweetness. Note that salad doesn't have to immediately follow the main course — you can also save it for those in-between hours before bed.

How salad can set you up for a restful night

Many of us tend to snack on junk food in the hours between dinner and bed. Whether you have a salty or sweet tooth, waiting to eat your salad until dinner has ended and you're craving something to munch on will save you a whole lot of extra calories (per Healthfully). Those late-night snacks are too often laden with unhealthy fats, sugar, and calories, which can easily lead to excess calories for the day and, in turn, weight gain. 

Additionally, junk foods leave us feeling bloated and uncomfortable, especially when ingested in large portions. Trying to wind down and get to sleep with a full belly is difficult as many people often experience heartburn and indigestion, according to Amerisleep. This is due to placing the body into a horizontal position while the stomach is still in the middle of its digestion process.

Here is where salad can resolve all of the above issues. With a base of fiber-rich and low-calorie vegetables, salad resolves our urge to snack in the hours before bed (via Healthfully). Leafy greens also deliver a dose of calcium and magnesium, which help us wind down before sleep. As long as you aren't adding high-calorie and high-fat ingredients or dressings to your salad, your body won't have to work overtime to digest while you're asleep, and you'll wake up without the unpleasant symptoms of heartburn and indigestion.