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We need to talk about lettuce

3 February 2017 By Galina

You've heard it here last: there is a shortage of iceberg lettuce because it's a cold winter in Southern Europe and lettuce does not grow as fast in the cold. Who would have thought?

February, however, is the month when most people start thinking about their healthy diets again. Lettuce is there on the front page of every diet book. So - what can you offer to your clients instead of lettuce?

First of all, lettuce is by far not the most nutritionally dense salad filler. Spinach, for example, beats it hands down in virtually every category.  There are also beetroot leaves, rocket, cabbage, chard and so on. Here is more information about different leaves and toppings that can be used to increase the nutritional value of a salad.

Secondly, is lettuce an ideal February plate filler? Not really. We need warm food in winter - soups, stews, steamed vegetables, stir-fries. When we eat warm food, the body uses excess heat to make sure that every cell maintains its optimal temperature. When we eat cold food in winter, the body has to heat the food first. For clients or patients with a delicate constitution, this presents another challenge. The body will digest what's easy and leave out what's not so easy.  It's not surprising then that yellowing curled lettuce leaves, often badly chewed,  find their way into the colonic waste tube, virtually undigested. Badly chewed or unchewed lettuce can irritate the bowel wall and contribute to IBS. 

In a word, in February in the UK you can give lettuce a miss. Have a good hearty vegetable soup instead, and stay warm. Here are some gorgeous soups to whet your appetite