There is tremendous confusion about what to eat. Often the food choices people make are full of calories yet lack the nutritional value the body needs. This confusion leads to expanding waistlines, low energy and rising rates of type 2 and now type 3 diabetes and obesity-related illnesses. The American Diabetes Association’s National Healthy Lunch Day™ is an annual opportunity to promote the importance of good nutrition as part of a healthy lifestyle, and help people make better food choices.
You can only survive on coffee and granola bars for so long! Lunch is an opportunity to refuel your body with the right nutrition to stay focused and increase your energy to complete your workday, strong.
A balanced lunch should include the following components:
Protein – protein should make up about 25% of total daily calories. It helps to repair muscles and keep you feeling fuller, longer. Choose lean meats (fish, chicken breast, tofu). Hummus, nuts and low-fat cheeses are also great sources of protein.
Carbs – carbohydrates are our main source of energy. Aim for about 50% of your total daily calories to come from carbohydrates. Choose healthier carbohydrates, such as fruits and veggies (aim for 5 servings/day!), whole-wheat bread, brown rice, lentils and beans. The fiber in these healthier carbs helps you to feel full and helps to normalize your blood sugar levels.
Healthy Fats – Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help your body synthesize fat-soluble vitamins (vits A, D, E & K). Healthy fats include nuts, olives, avocados and fish. The remaining calories should come from healthy fats (about 25% of your daily calories).
Last, but not least … Water – BYOW to make sure you’re staying hydrated. Take your body weight and divide by 2 – drink that many ounces of water each day. For example, a 200lb person should drink 100oz. of water every day.
Packing your own lunch ensures that you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck in the nutrition department. Try these 5 tips to help you pack a healthy and easy lunch for work:
- Prioritize health – keep your healthy goals in focus!
- Make enough dinner for leftovers – this makes the whole Monday through Friday lunch routine SO much easier.
- Put leftovers in the lunchbox right away – this eliminates packing for lunch to be an extra task on your to-do list.
- If you don’t have leftovers, make Sunday a “meal-prep” day. Cook a lunch dish on Sunday that will be enough for three days (salad with separately packed toppings/dressings, grains with roasted veggies/protein).
- Have back-up staples ready to go:
- Cooked chicken
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Almonds, walnuts, seeds – give extra protein to get you through the day
Need an idea of what to pack on National Healthy Lunch Day? Try this easy recipe:
Recipe – Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad (serves 4)
- 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
- ¼ cup diced celery
- ¼ cup dried raisins
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 TBSP mayo
- ¼ tsp pepper
- Optional stuffing ideas: carrots, lettuce, sprouts
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Chill for at least 30 minutes to let flavors combine. Can be served in a wrap, sandwich or with crackers.
So, on September 18th, we hope you follow a few of these tips and lunch right with every bite!