Lunch: Choosing Healthier Lunches

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     As an individual, you may find it difficult to establish a healthy pattern for eating lunch. There are various reasons why you may find it hard to keep a reasonable lunch schedule. For instance, you may find yourself skipping lunch because of a busy work day, eating quickly because of household demands, or enjoying meals with low nutritional value when it comes to the daily recommendation of carbohydrates, proteins, and fat.

    You must realize that a proper lunch is important to maintain your energy level, allow for concentration, and keep your hormones stabilized. Eating out tends to cause more lunch dilemmas than bringing your own lunch. One way to prepare is writing a shopping list for the week including food for the freezer, the refrigerator, and your desk drawer. Some handy items for the freezer are pre-cooked and frozen homemade soups/stews, frozen grapes for a sweet dessert, and low sodium, low fat television dinners. For the refrigerator, purchase skim or 2% milk, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and low fat turkey/chicken bits to add to a pasta or salad. Meanwhile, you can keep sardines, tuna stored in water, and cans of salmon at your desk for quick, nutritional lunches.

    Many individuals enjoy eating salads for lunch which is fine but you have to check for hidden, unhealthy foods. For example, iceberg lettuce has minimal nutritional value while romaine lettuce or spinach will give you B vitamins and iron. Likewise, creamy salad dressings (think ranch or blue cheese) tend to have higher fat content yet olive oil or vinegar adds flavor with lower fat. Bacon bits are a favorite but again high fat so substitute with chicken or turkey and you get lower fat and protein.

    Another area of concern is the sandwich. A roast beef, bacon, and American cheese sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise can have large amonuts of fat so substitute with lean turkey or chicken breast with minimal lettuce and tomatos and use olive oil or mustard. Also, a hot treat of a cheeseburger with onions, peppers, and barbecue sauce is tasty but substitute with a turkey burger without the trimmings then you can treat yourself a small bag of potato chips or a granola bar.

    Enjoying your lunch should not be difficult but relaxing. However, your lunch may have a a direct relationship to your afternoon energy. The more fat and carbohydrates you eat the less energy you have for work or family obligations. Some people load up on candy, cakes, and pies for dessert but none provide a stable source of nutrition only limited energy before you crash and feel like sleeping. Make it a habit of performing other tasks to keep your mind off food.

    Exercise is a way to control your weight, keep your energy level and limit your thoughts about food. Take a 15-30 minute work around your office building or neighborhood. Prepare for the cold weather by dressing in layers and pacing yourself. Maintain safety by walking in areas with high foot/car traffic patterns and keeping an awareness of your surroundings. If the weather is dangerous, stay inside and find ways to exercise at your work desk or your home living room.

    The most important thing to remember about exercising is obtaining a medical checkup by your physician who can suggest basic exercises for you or refer you to a qualified personal trainer/exercise provider.

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