Lunch break is a forgotten stepchild of the meal day. We spend a reasonable amount of energy planning dinner, and we (sometimes begrudgingly) spend some energy making sure we eat breakfast. But more than one of us has looked at the clock at noon, noticed we are hungry and then scarfed down whatever was available and easy.
Too often, that means Fastfood, vending machine food or - for some people - nothing at all. And this is really unfortunate. Nutrition experts tell us again and again that eating three meals and two snacks a day is a surest path to good nutrition and a balanced diet. And even if you are eating Lunch break, a hamburger and fries doesn’t get you very far on the path to good nutrition.
So, how do you change this? Lunch break is a tough one for people who work outside the home. Sure, you can pack leftovers from dinner, but what if there aren’t any or you didn’t like dinner in the first place? Making a sandwich and adding some fruit sounds easy, but that’s just yet another thing to do in the morning and if you’re in a rush, it’s one of the first chores you’ll discard.
Here are some tips to bring Lunch break back into focus on busy weekdays:
*Do plan for leftovers, if possible. If you like what you’re making for lunch and think you wouldn’t mind having it for Lunch break tomorrow, set aside some before everyone else gets fed. Put it into the fridge and your family will never know a portion of the entree is missing. Best of all, you’ve already done the work. Add a piece of fruit and yogurt and there’s Lunch break tomorrow.
*If you must have Fastfood, stay away from fries, most hamburgers, anything breaded and fried and most salads. Yes, I said salads. Sure, you’ll get some nutritional content from the lettuce and all the other goodies on the salad, but the dressing might have as much as 30 grams of fat in it, most of it saturated fat. Stick with light dressings or even keep a bottle of dressing in the fridge at work. Otherwise, stay away from Fastfood salads (and they’re never that good anyway). Try a grilled chicken sandwich, sans fries.
*If you’re out and about running errands and get hungry, stop at 7-11, and grab a bottle of milk, some trail mix or a granola bar and a piece of fruit. It might not be gourmet, but it will get you through to a small snack later and dinner.
*Keep Lunch break items at work. There are many things you can keep in your desk that are shelf stable and still healthy. How about tuna packets and crackers? How about some fruit in its own juice? Nuts, trail mix and granola bars are all good choices. Stay away from sodium-laden canned soups and noodle bowls. Not only can they provide you with more than the maximum sodium you need for one day, they also won’t provide the complex carb and protein boost you need to get you through the afternoon and keep you from harassment the vending machines later for an unhealthy snack.