Kelsey Hendrix
April 17, 2013

When thinking about healthy eating, salads are an assumed safe bet. Full of nutrient-rich fruits or vegetables, these meals not only look fresh, but taste great, too.

But if you're anything like me, a tendency to overpour when it comes to salad dressing can be a huge calorie bomb. My fridge is stockpiled with bottled dressings for easy and quick meals on the go, and despite the fact that many of them boast of being light or low-sodium, an excessive pour can still take a toll on my otherwise smart choice for a meal.

For our May 2013 issue of Cooking Light, Assistant Editor Kimberly Holland conducted a test with 50 people to show us how they tip their hands.

The Test: The suggested serving size for bottled salad dressing is a mere 2 tablespoons—that's the amount used to calculate nutrition numbers on labels. We wondered: If most people eyeball a pour rather than measure—and that seems a reasonable assumption—how much do they actually pour?

The Results: Only a third of the guinea pigs poured 2 tablespoons of ranch or vinaigrette, and those who chose the creamy dressing had a heavier hand. The difference between heaviest and lightest pours of ranch: more than 250 calories.

By scouring over the numbers and observing the test first-hand, we found that while our participants from within the Cooking Light family obtained smaller average pours (it should be noted that our own staffers were likely more self-conscious when pouring during the test), we also had the largest pour of over 8 tablespoons. On the other hand, participants from a local salon tended to have more varying numbers, but also picked up the smallest pour of less than 1/2 a tablespoon.

*As with most tests of this nature, the highest and lowest numbers were thrown out to obtain more accurate results.

The Fix: It's quite simple really–use a tablespoon or small ounce measuring cup to ensure that you're only pouring as much (and as many calories) as you want.

There's nothing worse than sticking your fork into a salad for the first bite and realizing that you can't even taste the scrumptious, fresh ingredients over the heaps of dressing. So find a cute set of measuring spoons and make a point of measuring before pouring to ensure a delectable salad doesn't ruin your admirable plan to eat healthy.

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