You've scanned the restaurant menu and given yourself a little pat on the back for choosing a salad instead of fries on the side. Now comes the "top" question: "Which dressing would you like on your salad?" It seems like such a small detail, but your dressing decision can make or break your salad and either support or undo your initially healthy choice! Egad! Panic! Worry! Nah, just calm down and follow these do's and don'ts for dressing your salad.

Dressing don't: getting "dressed" in the dark
Just like you wouldn't leave the house in the morning without checking yourself in the mirror, you shouldn't eat your salad before eyeballing your dressing portion size first. For a better view, ask for your dressing in a small on-the-side container. If you're dining at home, pour a portion of dressing directly from the bottle into a small sauce dish first. Put the dressing back in the fridge right away - out of sight, out of mind - and then drizzle the dressing from the dish onto your salad.

Dressing don't: not paying attention to the label
In fashion, labels only matter to the status-conscious. But when it comes to salad dressing, it's best to be label-able. Peek at the nutrition stats on a bottle of salad dressing and you'll notice that the serving size is often only 2 tablespoons. 2 tablespoons doesn't sound like much, so it's easy to forget to factor in the calories, fat, and sodium from your dollop or two of dressing. 2 tablespoons of "regular" creamy ranch dressing has 16 g of fat, nearly 150 calories, and 12% of your daily recommended intake of sodium. Opt for a "fat-free" ranch to trim the fat down to only 0.3 g and one-third of the calories. But when you trade the fat, you often see a spike in sodium to make up for the lost flavour. Put a halt to all that salt by selecting low-sodium dressings.

Dressing don't: always thinking thin
The "ideal" body shape changes through the years. With healthy dressing, thin is sometimes in. Cutting fat and calories where you can may help you to manage your weight, which can help reduce your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol. Dilute dressing with water, or spritz your bed of greens with a light spray-on dressing to perk up the flavour for a fraction of the fat and calories. You could also whittle the waistline of homemade dressing by subbing in low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese in the place of buttermilk, mayo, or sour cream. But a bit of fat with your salad may be a good thing. That's because fat may help your body to absorb certain beneficial nutrients found in colourful salad ingredients like tomatoes, carrots, peas, and red and yellow bell peppers. Choose or prepare your own dressings that contain "healthier" monounsaturated fats - think delicious, salad-friendly avocados and olive oil!

Amy Toffelmire