Tag Archives: Healthy Lunch

Eat a Healthy Lunch

Whether you are working in an office or work from home, people look forward to lunch time for a variety of reasons. It is the perfect time to meet with friends; to take a powernap; to take a quick walk; or sit in the sunshine and enjoy the fresh air. Lunchtime can also be a great time for catching up on the latest news while surfing the web or playing a quick game of Solitaire on your computer. Others enjoy spending time with coworkers and a little lively conversation.

The problem with lunch time is that many people rush out of the office to grab an unhealthy meal at a restaurant or a nearby fast food establishment without a single thought about the potential harm they are doing to their bodies.

Hamburger and Fries

Fast food places have sprung up on every corner, which makes them extremely convenient. As a result, most Americans eat up to three meals a week at near-by fast food establishments.

The health danger comes from the fact that fast foods are filled with salt, sugar, fat, additives, and calories, which means that you are ingesting a huge number of empty calories with minimal nutrition; plus putting harmful chemicals into your body on a regular basis. In addition to the negative impact on your health, these foods contribute to the mid-afternoon slump.

A well-balanced and well-planned lunch can actually help you get through the work day without feeling tired, bloated or irritable. The first thing you have to do when you decide to develop a healthier lifestyle, is to plan your meals – including healthy lunches.

Healthy meal planning takes some practice.

For lunches, the first step is to select several recipes that really appeal to you. (I will be sharing some of my favorites in the next post.) Nutritious foods are easy to add to your lunches if you have them on-hand when you are ready to pack your noonday meal. Focus on increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet in order to ensure that you are getting all the necessary nutrients your body needs for good health.

Image by Lachlan Hardy
Image by Lachlan Hardy

Fruits and veggies are filling, satisfying, and low in calories so they are perfect as the main source of lunch time calories. Eliminate processed meats in order to avoid extra fat, sodium and additives. Additives are dangerous to your health, while fats and salt tend to make you feel bloated and irritable by mid-afternoon. When you keep the salami and processed ham or turkey out of your sandwiches, you will feel much better toward the end of your workday.  For sandwiches, stick with real cheeses, tuna, egg salad, roasted chicken or turkey, leftover steak or roast, etc.

Once you have an idea of the different types of lunches you want to eat each day, the planning is pretty simple. Create a menu of healthy recipes for all your meals, including lunches; and make your shopping list from the menu.

Delicious hand-packed lunches do not have to cost a fortune or come from a take-out restaurant. Many restaurant foods that you enjoy can be made at home without all the salt, fat, sugar, and additives. Great lunches do not have to consist of sandwiches only either. There is a whole world full of wraps, salads, mini pizzas, etc. that are available to spice up your lunchtime menu.

Healthy lunches make a huge difference in your physical and emotional state, especially during the late afternoon. High-sodium meals will make you feel bloated, thirsty, and cranky toward the end of the workday. People often feel fatigued or moody when they have eaten foods high in fat, sugar, and sodium.

On the other hand the healthy lunch will make you feel full without the bloating and moodiness because you can choose foods that give you energy and do not have the bad side effects.

Low blood sugar is usually the cause of fatigue in late afternoon. A high-sugar lunch, which includes most fast foods, can cause a spike in your blood sugar and then a sudden drop that leaves you feeling exhausted and irritable. It is amazing how much one small meal can affect the rest of your day.

The challenge with lunch is that you are hungry and have very little time – you rush out of the office and grab something to quell the hunger and then rush back. Creating a healthful, nutritious lunch at home and taking it to work will eliminate all kinds of problems – including the hectic rush and bad food choices for lunch.

If lunchtime is social hour with your colleagues, focus on restaurant meals that are fruit and vegetable-based. Dishes that are primarily vegetables rather than meat tend to include less sodium and fat.

Homemade lunches can become a part of your office socialization, as well. Try creating a lunch menu with several other coworkers and decide who will bring which item to the office. This is a great way to try new recipes and share good healthy food with others. You could bring a salad while someone else brings freshly made wraps. By taking the responsibility for a healthy meal, you will be encouraging friends to enjoy a more nutritious lifestyle . . . and, it will be easier for you to stick to your dietary changes. A well-balanced lunch can actually be a fun part of your workday when it is shared with friends.

The ideal lunch break for the working person includes plenty of water and a little exercise. When you bring a good lunch from home, you save time because a quick trip to the fast food place is not required. That means there is extra time for several laps around the building (inside or out – I have to stay inside because Phoenix weather is far too hot for outside walks in the summer). Another option is to walk up and down a few flights of stairs. Small efforts like these can lead to dramatic changes in your health.

One final note – drinking water instead of coffee at lunchtime will also benefit your health and your sleeping habits. Many people believe that the caffeine pick-me-up at lunch is necessary to carry them through the day. This is not really true. Caffeine at one o’clock can actually make you feel more tired by the end of your workday. One of the worst habits I see regularly at my workplace is people sucking down “energy drinks” which are loaded with caffeine and sugar – both incredibly harmful to your health.

Lunchtime is an exceptionally important meal when it comes to overall health and how you feel throughout the afternoon and evening. A healthy and well-balanced lunch will help you to get through your work day without those energy dips that are often difficult to struggle through. You will not only feel better, you will be more productive.

Photo Credit: Did somebody say lunch-off? via photopin (license)

Good Nutrition Is Essential for Busy People

 Too Busy to Eat Healthy? Then, You Are Too Busy

You have heard the arguments regarding the importance of a nutritious diet and living a healthy lifestyle. This is an additional alert to help you understand that good nutrition is essential for busy people in order to live long, healthy lives. In the rush of living and getting everything done, that is often the last thing on their minds.

Image by Wavebreak Media
Image by Wavebreak Media

You rush in the morning to get everything organized before you jump in the car and go to the office – often skipping breakfast, or grabbing a strong coffee latte and doughnut on the way to work.

McDonalds Big Mac and FriesYou scramble through the day, grabbing a Danish and another coffee mid-morning, and a little later, you spend a quick 30 minutes to grab a hamburger and fries at the nearest fast-food establishment or local diner for lunch.

Then, it’s back to the office to work diligently until the mid-afternoon slump hits a couple of hours later. You guzzle down another cup of coffee, a cola, or the Monster drink you brought from home, and a candy bar from the vending machine – just to keep you going. With all that sugar and caffeine running through your system, it is no wonder that you have trouble sleeping at night.

Finally, the day is over. It is time to pick up the children from school and try to figure out what to serve for dinner – often it is order-in Chinese, a couple of large pizzas, a quick-stop at the nearest drive-thru, or prepackaged/frozen dinners that can be prepared and served in a matter of minutes. Everyone wolfs down the food and then collapse in front of the TV until it is time to fall into bed completely exhausted.

This scenario, with a few variations, is the average weekday for a majority of the working class in the United States. If you stop to analyze the eating habits specifically, it should not be surprising that we are a nation of exhausted, overweight, and unhealthy individuals – rearing overweight and unhealthy children.

Taking it a step further, people seem to be completely unaware, confused, or simply disinterested in what actually constitutes a healthy meal. As a result, even though there are healthy options available, people either choose to remain uninformed or ignore what they know to be true, because ease and convenience are their highest priorities.

On the other hand, there others who actually have no idea that their eating habits are hurting them and believe that as long as they eat regularly, they are OK, with little thought about what they are eating.

One fact that busy people do not consider is that the busier they are, the more important good nutrition becomes.

When you spend your entire day running from one responsibility to another, your body must have the proper fuel to sustain the effort and stay healthy. When you do not feed your body foods filled with the necessary nutrients, it will eventually begin to break down.

Any (or all) of the following can happen: you feel tired all the time, have trouble sleeping, experience the jitters, become short-tempered, and you catch every bug that comes around.  Your amazing body can only take the mistreatment for so long and as it steadily weakens from the lack of nutritious food, you can develop serious chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, diabetes, and heart problems – plus increase your risk for contracting many other diseases. Your body cannot protect you if it is denied the nutrition it needs to do its job.

The real problem is that on some level people believe that if they are eating (anything) they are fueling their body. As a result, when they get hungry, very busy people tend to fuel their bodies with foods that are high in calories, high in unhealthy fats and refined sugar, and loaded with caffeine, sodium, and additives. The bottom line is they are ingesting an excessive number of calories and receiving practically no nutrient value what-so-ever.

Start the Challenge by Making the Time to Eat a Healthy Breakfast

People get into the habit of thinking that they do not have the time to eat a good breakfast, or to pack a healthy lunch. The reality is that their health is not important enough to get up 15-20 minutes earlier every day to make the time. Those few minutes will make it possible even with the morning rush to sit down to scrambled eggs and a whole-grain bagel with almond butter, rather than grabbing a Mountain Dew and Pop-tart as you run out the door. You will even have a few minutes to pack a healthy sandwich and fruit for lunch.

If that 15 minutes of sleep is a problem, go to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier in the evening.

Taking the time to start the day with a healthy breakfast is one of the most important things you can do for your health and the health of your family. Remember, the habits that you teach your children are the habits that they will take with them to adulthood.