By: Tracy Williams
Healthy eating is important so that busy adults can keep up with their strenuous work schedules. Lunches on the go or at the workplace do not always have to be boring sandwiches. It is quite easy to run out of ideas and fall back into the restaurant rut. Everyone thinks it is easiest to eat out with colleagues. People are looking for fast, easy and good tasting foods to fit into their hectic days. There are always healthy, creative options for making a quick and tasty lunch.
What are some ideas to plan a healthy lunch? : It is important to make sure your lunch is balanced. Lunches that do include some lean or low-fat protein along with carbohydrates will keep your body fueled for long afternoons of stressful meetings. To have a creative lunch, pack leftovers of a black bean, brown rice and salsa dinner casserole, topped with shredded cheddar cheese. To add extra beneficial fiber and antioxidants, add some carrots, celery, and pepper strips for a hearty satisfying lunch. Convenience foods can also make quick and easy lunches. Canned soups and frozen meals can be inexpensive, especially if people stock up when they are on sale, and all you have to do is grab one when you are running out the door. To add more fruits and veggies in your diet, you could add a side salad or piece of fruit to provide enough calories, along with a portion controlled items like frozen meals. On the weekend, make a big pot of chili, soup or rice and freeze into individual portions that are ready to conveniently take to work.
Creative Lunch Ideas:
- 1 pita with lettuce and grilled chicken with light Caesar dressing; baby carrots and an apple
- Salmon lettuce wraps with light sesame Asian dressing; 1 can of broth based soup; and an orange
- Tomato & cucumber salad with olive oil and vinegar; tuna salad on pita; baby carrots; and an apple
- 1 can of soup; grilled chicken on a bed of romaine with sliced apple and light vinaigrette
- Garden salad with salmon, tomato, cucumber, and baby carrots ; an orange; and 1 can of soup
- Whole wheat tortilla wrap of hummus, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, feta cheese and black olives; a carton of fat-free vanilla yogurt and berries
- Whole wheat pita stuffed with vegetarian refried beans, salsa, lettuce and shredded cheddar cheese; and apple slices with almond butter
- Whole wheat tortilla roll with sliced turkey, sliced low-fat mozzarella cheese, red pepper strips, and lettuce leaf; with fruit salad and a glass of skim milk
Healthy Restaurant Choices: If you do go out to eat, it is important to take time to look over the menu and make careful selections. It is important to read restaurant menus carefully for clues to fat and calorie content. It may be a good choice to order the regular or child-sized portions instead of larger portions. It is okay to make special requests, just remember to keep them simple. For example, ask for a baked potato or side salad in place of French fries; limit mayonnaise or bacon on your sandwich; sauces served on the side. It is important to think about food choices from your entire day. It might be a good idea to share an extra-large sandwich or main course with a friend or take home for another meal. At a sandwich shop, choose lean beef, ham, turkey, or chicken on whole grain bread. In place of fries or chips, choose a side salad, fruit or baked potato. You can always try new foods, such as Chinese stir-fry, vegetable stuffed pita or Mexican fajitas, just go easy on the sour cream, cheese, and high sodium sauces. At a salad bar, pile on the dark leafy greens, carrots, peppers, and other vegetables. Lighten up on mayonnaise based salads, and high fat toppings. It is great to enjoy fresh fruit as a dessert. If you are ordering pizza, load it up with vegetable toppings. If you add meat, make it lean ham, Canadian bacon, chicken or shrimp. When grabbing dinner at the supermarket deli, select rotisserie chicken, salad-in-a-bag and freshly baked bread.
Healthy eating is important for nutrition to keep up with a busy schedule. There are many decisions to make when planning a healthy lunch. It is best to be creative in making lunch choices. It is important to always have a safe meal for lunch without the risk to food safety. There is always a healthy choice to choose from weather the lunch meal is made from home or from a local fast food restaurant or any other type of restaurant.
Tracy Williams graduated with her degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Dominican University. She enjoys freelance writing and public speaking on nutrition topics. I have been a five time recipient for nutrition education grants from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. She is a very passionate advocate for diversity, especially advocating for people who happen to have physical or cognitive disabilities. You can connect with her at www.tracysplate.com.