We blow it off. We scarf it down at our desks. We mindlessly order in (then wonder where our $20 bills went). Lunch is a crucial midday meal and rarely does it get the love it deserves. As a motivational speaker on pursuing our optimal health, I strongly lean towards making lunch the most important meal. It should always be a delicious nutritious pause in our day. Why?
- The brain needs glucose from healthy carbohydrates to keep us productive and sharp.
- The body needs protein to maintain muscle mass and all the other gazillion protein-based tissues in the body.
- Both brain and body need healthy fats to keep us satiated longer and to avoid the afternoon energy crash.
So what is the secret to packing a luscious lunch? Try my three favorite strategies:
Make a Dagwood Sandwich. That towering monument to Dagwood’s insatiable appetite was stacked with cold cuts and cheese – not recommended. Instead of piling on the meat and cheese, enjoy 3-4 oz. of lean protein, 1 slice of cheese and go wild on the veggies! My favorite sandwich stackers are Romaine lettuce, spinach, sprouts, tomato, sweet onion, cucumber, shredded carrot, bell peppers, banana peppers and avocado (not necessarily all on one sandwich).
Portion Control Packing. Remember TV dinners? The meal wasn’t that nutritious but the idea of different sized compartments for food makes packing a balanced lunch a no-brainer. Buy one of these meal-to-go containers that have at least 3 compartments: Fill the biggest section with veggies. Fill the mid-sized ones with Complex Carbs, Lean Protein and Fruit. The smallest section is perfect for healthy fats.
Bounteous Bowl. If you don’t mind mixing it all up in one container then try this layering technique of Healthy Carb + Veggies + Lean Protein. Top it off with 2 Tablespoons of delicious dressing, shake and dive in! Example: Quinoa + Parsley-Celery-Tomato-Cucumber + Garbonzo Beans (or grilled chicken) + Greek Feta Cheese Dressing
Making time the night before or in the morning to pack a balanced meal for lunch will pay off with sustained energy, a better mood and your taste buds will do a happy dance too!