Pre-COVID-19, salads at the dining hall were a joyous encounter for veggie lovers, for those emphatic about nutrient dense foods and for those who truly enjoyed eating food that tastes only slightly like earth. Even for those who were on the fence about veggies but ate a vegetable every now and then because they did not want to get scurvy, salads were still an event in themselves. 

I always knew it was going to be a good day when the alfalfa peaked it’s little arms out of the salad bar line. Sometimes, if it was being served and if I was feeling like I needed to prepare my body for when I go full Austin-Texas-raw-food-vegan-veg-lover, I would throw some of the frisée greens into the mix. If I ever felt like I needed to mix in some of those dark purple-green hued lettuce pieces into the bowl for variety while still remaining pumped with the nutrients, heck! I would do it!

However, on the days where I could not withstand my daily spinach intake, I would…put…iceberg lettuce…into my…salad bowl. As I sat there in the dining hall, feeling guilty about the lack of nutrients in iceberg lettuce, I wondered if the pain was worth the tastiness of the leafy green I had chosen.

For me, it was the dilemma between wanting that crunchiness of iceberg lettuce and the euphoric experience I can only explain as eating a plate of water, and the knowledge that I could be feeding my body with an abundance of vitamin K, vitamin D, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and vitamin C to name a few. 

Well, as you might imagine, I felt ridiculous about the entire mental breakdown I was experiencing. Honestly, my brain could be thinking of anything else, and yet here I was, fixated on green vegetables. Thinking of green vegetables typically fills my head on a daily basis, but usually in a happy maner, not the other way around. 

I discussed this phenomenon with a close friend who said she experienced the same confusion and dilemma when facing the salad bar. She stated that sometimes, for her mental health, she opted for the iceburg lettuce simply because she was craving it, even if she knew that she had not received the nutrients the other veggie would offer. Inspired, I decided to take the same tune for myself. 

I’m sorry but sometimes spinach tastes like blood! The iron is just so intense at points, you deserve to give yourself a break every now and then! There is no need to torture yourself with only eating vegetables that contain 188 percent of your daily vitamin A intake and 604 percent of your daily vitamin K needs when you may mentally need a big bowl of leafy greens that only contain 10 percent of your vitamin A and 30 percent of your vitamin K needs. Indulge yourself in a satiating iceberg lettuce salad every now and then, knowing that spinach, kale or whatever leafy green is your go to, will be available at another time and place.