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How to build a better lunch

Build a better lunch

One of the common barriers to eating healthy can be the lunchtime rut. We’ve all been there; that moment when you rush out the door, forget to pack a lunch, and are faced with making decisions on the go. Typically those decisions are not the healthiest. With a little bit of planning and creativity, you can make lunch healthier than ever! 

Balance your meals

Balance your meals by choosing a variety of food groups. To feel full longer, include lean protein along with fiber. This will keep your body fueled for the afternoon. Try whole grains, beans, nuts, fruit, or vegetables. 

Rethink your sandwich

If sandwiches are your easy go-to meal, aim to mix it up with whole-grain breads, pitas, and wraps with lean fillings. Use assorted greens and vegetables to jazz up the flavor and top off with a low-fat or fat-free cheese. 

Reuse leftovers

Leftovers make for a perfect lunch because you can prep the evening before. This also gives a great option for monitoring and controlling portions. If you have time the weekend before, cook a large batch of soup, chili, or casserole. Freeze it into individual portions for easy grab and go.   

Downsize liquid calories

Liquid calories can really add up throughout the day. That Frappuccino in the morning, the soda mid-day, and sports drink with lunch and add significant calories to your diet. And of course sodium and sugar! Replace these drinks with water, unsweetened tea or lemonade, or fat free milk. Remember to always check the serving sizes, too. 

Be wary of convenience foods

While convenience foods are easy to grab on the go, it’s important to check the labels and be informed about what’s really in the food. Most canned vegetables, meals, soups, and sauces have a high amount of sodium. Sodium is linked to high blood pressure. 

Plan ahead

Meal planning can be one of the keys to success in building a better lunch. Being prepared ahead of time will allow you to avoid eating out and unhealthy decisions. Use our meal planning worksheet to help you prepare healthy and delicious meals.

Pack healthful snacks

Packing snacks can help you stay fuller longer and hold you over between meals. Below are some of my top recommendations for snacks.

  • Crunchy: fresh fruit, raw vegetables, cereal (low in sugar), pretzels, rice cakes, and popcorn
  • Sweet:  fresh fruit, dried fruit, flavored gelatin, low-calorie hard candy
  • Smooth or frozen: green smoothies, applesauce, frozen grapes, frozen non-fat yogurt

Planning, having options, and meal prep are essential for building a healthy lunch. With these tips you are sure to have many options!

What are your favorite healthy lunch options?