FitFriday: Cheese, bacon, fried chicken - still a salad?
April 22nd, 2011
01:55 PM ET

FitFriday: Cheese, bacon, fried chicken - still a salad?

Is it really a salad if leaves of romaine lettuce are accompanied by orzo pasta, chicken, capers and the whole thing packs a 900-calorie punch?

In the mind of dieters – we fixate on the fact that it’s called a salad instead of what’s actually in it.  So we'll convince ourselves that a  "salad" - even one packed with piles of cheese or globs of dressing - is healthy.

Consumers munch on deep-fried chips, because the label says they're vegetable chips and glug sugary drinks that have just as many calories as soda, because they're called “flavored water."

A study from the University of South Carolina found that dieters focus more on food names than what is actually inside it.  The study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, presented participants, those who were on diets versus non-dieters with a dish of veggies, pasta, salami and cheese served with romaine lettuce, which totaled 900 calories.

When the dish was called pasta, the dieters considered it less healthy.   And overall, dieters perceived the dish, when it was called a salad, as a healthier product.

She used 4 easy tips to lose weight

The same theme emerged in a similar experiment when participants were asked to rate the healthfulness of one food item – the name changed between a fruit chew and candy chew. The product contained sugar, fruit juice, vitamin C, corn syrup, and milk.

The dieters perceived the candy chews to be less healthy.  But when it was called fruit chews, they ate more of it.

Essentially, dieters try to avoid foods with a trigger name – pasta or candy – that they consider forbidden, because they're on a diet.

Why isn't there a safe weight-loss pill?

The authors wrote: “The effect of food name on perceptions of healthfulness is pervasive.”

So next time you want to order a "salad," check what's actually in it.

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. The Truth

    To answer the headline question yes, it is still a salad. Salads do not by any definition need to be healthy to be called a salad. We need to stop pointing out the extreme obvious and allow Darwinism to take place. We are allowing those without common sense to survive their lack of common sense and to breed allowing for even dumber people to be born. If someone can not figure out putting a bunch of unhealthy items in a salad makes it unhealthy then they have no value to society. And by the way a real man can eat bacon, fried chicken and other unhealthy stuff in moderation and live a long healthy life.

    April 22, 2011 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. irish man


    April 22, 2011 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sure

      potato man's post is the same reason why people eat and drink like that and tell themselves they're doing good – mindless.

      April 22, 2011 at 17:41 | Report abuse |
  3. Mike A

    I find it amusing that CNN is instigating a discussion about the relativism of diction without considering the how incredibly relative the word "healthy" is. There's nothing inherently unhealthy about pasta, except that its a simple carbohydrate (and one with a relatively low glycemic index at that) and so it can cause people who don't get much exercise to get fat. Of course it's "healthier" if it contains leaves. Leaves have vitamins and fiber and so forth and they increase bulk considerably without increasing caloric content. The writer is using the word "healthy" when perhaps they would more accurately say "low calorie".

    April 22, 2011 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Someone

    .......IKinda wish you guys put the name of the place you got that Salad from

    April 25, 2011 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. delia

    Off hand I don't know of a way to relabel the wgdiet. There are some posts that can be found via Google that get into the deeper internals. This method satisfied my goal and I didn't pursue it any further.

    April 14, 2012 at 15:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Tennille Cinnamond

    Bacon may be eaten smoked, boiled, fried, baked, or grilled, or used as a minor ingredient to flavour dishes. Bacon is also used for barding and larding roasts, especially game, e.g. venison, pheasant. The word is derived from the Old High German bacho, meaning "buttock", "ham" or "side of bacon", and cognate with the Old French bacon.-":

    Current posting straight from our very own online site

    May 31, 2013 at 16:35 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.