Lunch for most Americans is a grab and go meal. It’s easy to hit a fast food restaurant or stop by a convenience store for a soda and candy bar. The problem with that is that convenience food is full of calories and additives that have dubious health effects.
It’s also expensive and doesn’t fill you up, leaving you wanting more food halfway through the afternoon. With a little effort, you can put together a healthy meal and avoid the fast food money and waist line pit.
Start with a nice broth-based soup like vegetable or tomato bisque. Avoid cream soups because of the calories. Look for less salty versions. Salt is added for flavor, but too much salt makes you bloat. Eating a starter of soup will help you feel fuller quickly and eat less. The vegetables are healthy, too.
Pick a Protein
Protein is important to help you feel full, build bones and muscles, and fuel your body. You can choose lunch meat, but lunch meats are highly processed and full of additives and nitrates. Instead, make a healthier choice like fish, lean chicken, or lean beef. For a vegetarian twist, choose brown rice, quinoa, cottage cheese, or beans and legumes.
Fish is full of Omega-3 oils and ocean fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, etc) are high in iodine that you need for a healthy thyroid. Lean beef and chicken are also very healthy. Obviously, if you fry it first, it tends to be a lot less healthy.
Brown rice and quinoa can be a great base for your lunch. Brown rice is a carb, but does contain a lot of fiber, vitamin B1 and magnesium.
Quinoa is an excellent source for plant-based protein. Adding beans and legumes make for a great base in the form of a bowl of beans or a bean burger. Vegetarian food doesn’t have to be tasteless. Find a few good recipes or experiment with spices.
Cottage cheese is a great food to eat while trying to lose weight and comes with some excellent nutrition. Try topping it with carrots, tomatoes and other veggies for a filling lunch.
Add a Veggie
Choose a variety of veggies to complement your protein. Adding leafy greens give you filling fiber and lots of necessary vitamins, antioxidants, and other important nutrients. If you do add a dressing, try for less rather than more. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil is a great low-cal dressing.
Try to eat a rainbow of veggies as each color contains different anti-oxidants. Eating your veggies raw keeps nutrients that are washed away when boiled.
Avocados are very healthy, high in good fats and fibers. Try the hipster trick of using avocados as a spread instead of high calorie mayo. If you eat avocados with salad, your body can absorb the carotenoid antioxidants more readily.
Sprinkle on Some Fiber
Nuts offer protein, fiber and healthy fats and a selection of important minerals. Adding a tablespoon of nuts to your sandwich or salad not only adds to the flavor and texture but to a healthy meal. They are high in calories, so go easy on the total amount you eat.
Chia seeds are a great source of plant-based protein, are filling and add a lot of fiber to your diet. They are generally flavorless, so they are easy to add to any food.
Make a Sandwich
If you chose to have your lunch as a sandwich, try to eat whole grain breads. Some “whole grain” breads are made with white flour and food coloring. Read the label to make sure that you are getting the real thing. White bread is readily converted in your body to sugar. Whole grain bread takes longer to digest and you’ll feel less sluggish after a whole grain sandwich..
Drink Something Healthy
Drink water or unsweetened tea for your meal. Avoiding sugary or artificially sweetened soft drinks and juices will help you keep down your lunch’s calorie count. And your body needs water to function well, anyway.
End with Dessert
Wait…dessert? Sure. Eat some fruit for the sweetness and vitamins and fiber. As you avoid sugar, you will find the fruit is sweet enough to soothe the worst sweet tooth.
And finally, dark chocolate is a great meal ender. It contains magnesium and a lot of anti-oxidants. It takes a little time to get used to the lack of milk and sugar, but dark chocolate is delicious. It is rich enough that a small square will make you feel as if you’ve had a much larger dessert.
Lunch doesn’t have to be a boring grab and go meal. With a little thought, you can have a very healthy meal that will be filling and nutritious. You’ll notice am improved afternoon and your wallet and waistline will thank you.