If you’re dieting and trying to eat healthy during the day, carrying your lunch can be a great place to start, so long as you keep some lunchbox diet tips in mind. Lunch is one of the most important meals for influencing your hormones, mood and blood sugar for the rest of the day. It is so important to pick smart choices at lunch, and make your calories work for you, not against you. You could eat twice the amount of calories you need and not get the nutrients your body needs at the exact same time. If you don’t pick the right foods to eat at lunch, or any other meal for that matter, no amount of food will satisfy you the right way. Also, save your money and your calories by bringing your lunch, not eating out. Most restaurant choices, even ones that seem healthy, are loaded with excess calories or sodium. This can leave you hungry later on much sooner, make you tired, give you headaches, can ruin your budget, and can make you bloated and fatigued, robbing your ability to focus when returning to work. Stick with these great lunchbox diet tips so you can be sure your midday meal is one that slims down your waistline and your budget!
One of the best lunchbox diet tips I have for you is to pick protein to put into your lunchbox. Protein is so important for your body on a number of levels. First, it contains the essential amino acids your body needs for healthy brain function, blood sugar regulation, a fast metabolism, and energy levels. Protein calms your stress hormones, and keeps you alert and awake, while being stimulant free, unlike those extra soy lattes at Starbucks you might have turned to previously. Protein from foods like salmon, tofu, tuna, lean chicken, lean turkey, eggs and egg whites, a healthy protein smoothie, etc. are all great sources. Be sure to get in roughly around 18-25 grams in at lunch for the best fat burning and best blood sugar stabilizing benefits.
When packing your lunch, don’t smear some peanut butter on white bread with jelly, and call it lunch. That will just leave you sleepy and hungry an hour later. Instead, swap out your sandwich with a salad! I recommend packing a huge salad to go with your protein, and by huge, I mean huge! Load up the salads with tons of leafy greens like kale, spinach, romaine and spring greens. Then toss in some grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, cucumber, zucchini and celery slices. Drizzle it with fresh lemon juice and apple cider vinegar for a tangy, calorie free dressing, and add some seasoning like Mrs. Dash. I like Mrs. Dash in the original flavor on just about anything, since it has a zesty, savory taste, and it really makes your salad taste great with no salt at all. Then, just add your protein, and consider some of the rest of my lunchbox bests here below, and you’re good to go!
If you need more than a salad at lunch, no worries! If you’re a vegan and don’t want animal protein on your salad, just add a sweet potato, or some fluffed quinoa to your meal instead. These are smart carbs that digest slowly, and prevent blood sugar swings. They will help to keep you full, satisfied, and fuel your body with the nutrients it needs to stay full and energized throughout the day. I personally adore sweet potatoes with salmon and spinach as a simple lunch time meal, or if you really want a sandwich, have sprouted grain bread instead of processed bread. I love Ezekiel bread,which you can find in the freezer aisle. Unlike bread you buy on the shelf, it is flour-free, and high in whole, living grains that are filled with energizing and satisfying nutrients like protein and low glycemic carbs.
Don’t try to go fat free at lunch. It will only backfire on you, I promise! Healthy fats like almond butter on Ezekiel bread, or fresh almonds on your salad are a great example, as are avocados on a salad, boiled eggs with your meal, a teaspoon of hemp or olive oil on your salad, or fatty fish like salmon or trout. All of these are great sources of healthy fats that will keep your body burning fat and keep your blood sugar stable. Fat also fuels satisfactory hormones in your brain, which tells you that you’re full and don’t need to eat any more. Without fat at lunch, you’ll be hungrier sooner, and your mood will suffer big time.
Whatever you do, include some kind of green at lunch. A sliver of iceberg lettuce on a sandwich or a burger doesn’t count! Add greens either through a salad, pack a green protein smoothie, get in a green juice, or eat some steamed spinach or kale with your protein. However you can get in a green piece of produce, do it! Include 2 cups for the best benefits. Greens help keep you full and satisfied, stabilize your blood sugar and cleanse your system. This keeps your energy high, the body in tip top shape and keeps your cells nourished.
When you pack your lunch, your inner child will probably want to throw in something for dessert. I get this, trust me! When I was little, my favorite part of lunch was the Little Debbie snack cake my mom would throw in. I always hoped it would be one of those peanut butter and jelly snack cakes. Those were my favorite! But please, whatever you do, don’t pick a Little Debbie as your snack ladies! My two favorite “desserts” now are either two of my raw cookie recipes, which have no sugar, are raw, and are vegan, which you can find the recipes for on my blog - soulfulspoon.com, I also like to make a little yogurt “sundae” with non-fat Greek yogurt, cinnamon, stevia, and a square of 100% dark chocolate. It satisfies me, and keeps me calm, collected, and energized the rest of the day.
Lastly, when choosing your lunchtime beverage, be sure to drink something smart. Forego sugary drinks or energy drinks and say no to coffee at lunch. Keep coffee for drinking in the morning only for optimal insulin levels. Too much coffee can alter your insulin, making you crave more sugar and fatty foods. So, at lunchtime, choose water with lemon for a refreshing twist, or make my favorite lunch time tea. I take green tea, sweeten with stevia, lemon and cinnamon and have that either hot, or iced with my lunch. It is so calming and energizing at the same time, and the way I sweeten it really has a satisfactory effect on the palate.
If you pack your lunch for work, do it smart! These tips can be implemented as soon as you want them too, and none of them require a lot of money or time if you prepare. I recommend making a week’s worth of lunches on Sunday and keeping them ready to go in containers so you don’t have any excuse not to eat healthy. What’s your favorite lunch to eat to keep you energized and healthy?