You’ve heard it over and over again – breakfast is the most important meal of the day! So, now you make sure you eat a smart meal every morning. Congrats! Then it’s off to work or school, or a busy day full of volunteering, running errands, taking your elderly mother to the doctor, or running your kids hither and yon. By the time you’re done with everything, you realize your stomach is growling louder than a T-Rex, and your brain is locked in on the cookies staring you in the face at the bakery counter of your supermarket. Of course, you give in, as your lack of energy means no will power, and before you know it, you’re half-way through a bag of mini chocolate chips cookies. Could this have been avoided?
What happened to eating lunch? We know you’re crazed and have a zillion things to do, and if you’re going to get it all done, then something has to give. Right? Well, eating lunch is just as important as eating breakfast. You need to give your body and mind a break and a chance to refuel and recharge its battery with a healthy, balanced lunch every day. It’s the key to boosting your energy, reducing your stress, improving your health, and preventing that 3 p.m. run to the vending machine.
You see, when you bypass lunch in order to meet that work deadline, your blood sugar continues to drop, as your brain is using the sugar from your breakfast to fuel your brain so you can complete your tasks. By the time two or three o’clock comes around, your blood sugar has hit rock bottom. You now have a headache, feel a bit shaky, and are about to bite off the head of the next person who talks to you. Your brain, being so very smart, knows that the quickest way to raise your blood sugar and have you feeling better is to get some fast-acting fuel, in the form of sugar. That’s why the proverbial snickers and soda vending machine run at this hour is so common.
Let’s prevent this from happening by making sure that you eat lunch. Whether you make your own (preferred plan) or buy it from the local sandwich shop, you must have a lunch that has some kind of complex carb (think whole grain bread, brown rice, or a sweet potato), a good amount of protein (tuna, egg, chicken, beans), fiber-rich fruit and/or vegetables. If you’re watching your weight, now is not the time to slash the calories – that’s just a recipe for late day binging. So, what should you eat?
Try out some of these ideas:
- Big salad, full of dark greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, beans, roasted bell peppers, grilled eggplant, and some crumbled feta cheese, topped with some balsamic vinegar and a little extra virgin olive oil.
- Teriyaki chicken bowl: combine teriyaki chicken breast, brown rice, and stir-fried or steamed vegetables.
- Turkey burger and sweet potato fries: Make your own turkey burger using ground turkey breast, chopped sauteed veggies, and seasoning, then grilled and served on a whole-grain dinner roll (smaller than a hamburger bun), with some lettuce, tomato, and avocado slices. Bake some sweet potato wedges for delicious “fries”.
- Soup and a sandwich: bring a cup of your favorite vegetable soup (try our fabulous Tortilla soup) and a sandwich (turkey, tuna, grilled “light” cheese, chicken breast) served on a whole grain dinner roll or on whole-grain bread (yes, you can have a whole sandwich!) with some lettuce, tomato, pickles, etc.
- Bring a frozen Amy’s vegetarian lasagna or bean and cheese burrito (it’s on a whole-wheat tortilla!) and heat it up at work and eat a piece of fruit while it’s cooking.
- Wrap sandwich: use a whole-grain flat-out bread and fill it with either hummus or black bean puree, grilled vegetables, and some salsa or chutney; roll it up and enjoy.
- If you have to grab some food while on the fly, shoot over to Subway or Quiznos, where you can get a sandwich on whole-grain bread, filled with turkey and lots of veggies. Just make sure to hold the mayo, oil, and salt.
- Another good option is to head over to the local supermarket to the deli section, where they will make you a sandwich to your liking, or fill up at the salad bar (watch the calorie bombs, and you know what they are!).
- Sushi: It’s easy to eat light and healthy at a sushi bar, if you stick to sashimi (fish minus the rice), miso soup, edamame, and sunomono salad (marinated cucumber slices).
- Leftovers are always a good choice. Make sure to make extra food when you are preparing dinner, so that you can wrap up a portion for tomorrow’s lunch. How easy was that?