Here’s Why You Should Actually Eat Your Salad After Your Main Meal

why eat salad last


If you’ve ever enjoyed a formal dinner in France or Italy, you probably noticed that the salad course was served after the main meal as opposed to the other way around. For most Americans, that order shift is a bizarre one, but there are several nutritional, cultural and practical benefits to eating your salad after your main course. Here’s how adopting this European dining habit could benefit you.

It aids in digestion.

These cultures believe that when you’re consuming a large meal over a period of several hours, it’s best to eat salad near the end of the dining experience to give your digestive system an added kick of fiber at the ideal time. The roughage supplied by the vegetables helps, ahem, keep things moving along as they should. So if big meals tend to leave you all sorts of constipated and uncomfortable, switching up that salad timing could give you some much-needed relief.

Your wine tastes better.

You can’t really indulge in a traditional French or Italian meal without a glass or two of vino, right? Well, these cultures also tend to use salad dressings primarily comprised of a healthy oil and a vinegar. And eating a vinegar-heavy (read: acidic) dish can change the way your taste buds react to your wine since it’s also an acidic drink. White wine becomes a lot sweeter and the tannins in red wine become a lot stronger. So enjoy your wine with your pasta or fish, and then dive into that plate of dressed greens.

why eat salad last

Unsplash/Brooke Lark

You might eat less during the main course.

If you know you have a plate coming after the main dish, which tends to be on the heavier side anyway, you’re more likely to not stuff yourself with just gnocchi or meatballs. Because who wants to waste a perfectly good plate of fresh veggies, especially if they taste as good as they typically do in fine French and Italian dining? Exactly. This way, you feel satiated with your piping hot main course and enjoy the refreshing, palate-cleansing salad without overdoing it.

You might not crave dessert as much.

The salad is typically followed by a cheese plate or dessert of some kind. But if you’ve already eaten your filling main meal and topped it off with healthy, veggie-based fiber, you might not be craving much else. While you should never hesitate to snag a piece of gouda or nosh on a dark chocolate truffle, you can also enjoy not feeling inclined to lick a dessert plate clean and then stress about overeating afterward.

At the end of the day, as long as you’re eating salad at all and getting those veggie servings in your diet, you’re doing a lot better than the average eater. And that’s really all we can ask of you. So maybe give this European swap a try to see how it works for you. Otherwise, just know that every meal is made better (in multiple ways) by a crisp and refreshing salad plate.