For most people, packing a lunch is a last-minute thing on their way out the door. Because they're rushed, they don't have time to think about making healthy food choices, or worse, they give up on making a lunch altogether and get fast food instead. Don't fall victim to these unhealthy diet choices. Instead, learn about some convenient and healthy food options for your lunch so you can be prepared the next time you need to throw a meal together before leaving for work.
1. Substitute Whole Wheat for White Bread
Since a sandwich is the main part of most people's daily lunch, opting for healthier bread can make a significant difference. Whole grain breads are preferable to white bread if you want to stay healthy. Packed with whole wheat, fiber, iron and B vitamins, whole grain bread isn't just better when it comes to calories - it's an all-around healthier option. You can even take it one step further by choosing a whole wheat tortilla to make a wrap instead of a sandwich.
2. Go for Lean Meats:
Grilled chicken, sliced turkey and tuna packed in water are all great options when making a sandwich or wrap for your lunch. Not only are these healthy choices, they also have a great amount of protein. Make sure you avoid processed meats whenever possible for optimum health benefits.
3. Make Sure to Include Fruits and Veggies
It's important to include at least one serving each of fruits and vegetables in your lunch. You'll get important vitamins and nutrients in your diet without added calories, sugars and fats. Keep things interesting by dipping your veggies in a low-fat sauce or combining your fruit with yogurt. In addition, you can add extra veggies to your sandwich or eat dried fruits with your meal.
4. Select Healthier Snack Items
Potato chips, cookies and cheese snacks tend to be high in fat and calories and low in nutritional content. Baked chips, pretzels, air-popped popcorn and trail mix are all good options when it comes to choosing healthier snacks for your lunch. For each of these options, make sure you avoid any products with excessive salt or flavorings.
5. Choose Drinks With Health Benefits
Many people focus more on their food and forget that they should also be drinking something healthy, too. Soda and most juice drinks contain a lot of sugar and caffeine that can cancel out your hard work in preparing a healthy lunch. Ideally, you should drink plenty of water with your lunch. Other options can include milk, which should be 1% or fat-free, or flavored waters. If you do crave something fruity, choose a 100% juice drink.
6. Control Your Portions
Even if all these snack and sandwich ideas are healthy, that doesn't mean you should eat as many of them as you want. Most people should limit their lunch to a sandwich or wrap, one or two small sides as a snack and a drink. If you find that you feel a little hungry in between lunch and dinner, bring one additional healthy snack to eat during the afternoon.
7. Regulate Food Temperatures
Once you have those healthy foods packed, it's important to make sure they stay at the right temperature. If you are lucky enough to have a refrigerator at work, stash your lunch there as soon as you arrive in the morning. For those without a fridge or those who are sending a lunch with their kids to school, it's time to invest in an insulated lunch box and some ice packs. Avoid keeping your lunch in a warm place, like a windowsill or near a heating vent. A thermos is helpful if you want to bring along warm drinks or soups.
8. Keep Lunchboxes Clean
Prevent germs and bacteria from spreading to your food by washing out your lunchbox daily. If you don't get a chance to wash your hands before lunch, it's a good idea to throw some hand sanitizer or wet napkins in your lunchbox each day as well.
Be sure to keep any special dietary restrictions in mind. Furthermore, depending on your schedule and personal needs, the portions and foods described here may not be the ideal options for you. If you're unsure about what to pack in your lunch, consult a physician who is familiar with your medical history.