Here is some advice for Day 12 of our April Challenge! In the quest to eat healthy, natural foods, lunch time can present the biggest challenge. Away from home, surrounded by vending machines and food carts, resolutions to stick to a healthy lifetyle can go out the door quicker than one can say “I’ll have fries with that.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. With some advanced planning and preparation, eating lunch at work or school can be both healthful and delicious. An added benefit, without the time spent driving to the nearest fast food restaurant, there will be extra time for a quick walk around the block or a run up a few flights of stairs. Not to mention the extra cash to buy that new pair of skinny jeans.
Assemble your equipment. Buy an insulated bag. Pick out one that is of adequate size for your needs. People who work 10 or 12 hour shifts will need a greater amount of food so make sure the bag will hold everything needed. Some come with containers and a thermos. Pick the one that best suits your needs and be sure to pick your favorite color or pattern. Eating is pleasurable, make it fun!
Have some staples that are always in the bag. Packages of nuts and dried fruit are handy and filling. If one has a desk, they can keep some supplies there, or in a car. The biggest reason for slip-ups is lack of preparation. Make it easy to eat healthy and you will be suprised how quickly your habits and tastes change.
Cook extra on the weekend to freeze in single portion servings. Here again, planning is the key to success. Having fresh vegetables cut up and bagged makes them easy and fast to pack. Hard boiled eggs and sliced meats provide protein. Assemble lunch ingredients the night before so a rushed morning won’t cause a noon trip to the taco stand “just this once”.
There are differences in lunch facilities at workplaces. Some have large lunchrooms with refrigerators and microwave ovens. Others are non existant. Workers, such as those sent out to job sites usually are on their own as to where to spend their noon break. Food safety is an important consideration in these circumstances. A cold pack can be put inside the insulated bag. Drinks can be frozen before packing. Vegetarian dishes and wraps are much less temperature sensitive than those made with meat and sauces. It is also a great way to increase fiber intake.
Experiment a little. Brown bagging it has come a long way since PB and J in your Care Bears Lunchbox (Sorry, I’m dating myself there). Skipping the fast food habit and replacing it with a balanced lunch will not only improve your figure and bank account, but you will have increased energy and be more alert for the remainder of the day.