Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Lunchtime and Fast Food

Lunch is the forgotten stepchild of the meal day unless you work everyday or work off-hours, (Swing Shift or Night Shift) and usually we spend a fair amount of energy planning dinner, and we (sometimes begrudgingly) spend some energy making sure we eat breakfast. Have you ever looked up at the clock at noon, realized we are hungry and then scarfed down whatever was available and easy?

Too often, lunch, means fast food, vending machine food or – for some people – nothing at all. And this is truly unfortunate. Nutrition experts tell us again and again that eating three meals and two snacks a day is the surest path to good nutrition and a balanced diet. Even the fast-food places are catching on to people being more health-conscious and are introducing more healthy choices, like a veggie burger that tasted like meat. A hamburger and fries don’t get you very far on the path to good nutrition, however.

So, how do you change this? Lunch is a tough one for people who work outside the home. Sure, you can pack leftovers from dinner, but what if there aren’t any or you didn’t like dinner in the first place? Making a sandwich and adding some fruit sounds easy, but that’s just one more thing to do in the morning and if you’re in a rush, it’s one of the first chores you’ll discard.

Here are some tips to bring lunch back into focus on busy weekdays:

Do plan for leftovers, if possible. I mean if you like what you’re making for dinner and think you wouldn’t mind having it for lunch tomorrow, set aside some for lunch add a piece of fruit and yogurt and there’s lunch tomorrow.

If you must have fast food try to stay away from fries, and see if soup or a salad is on the menu. Yes, I said salads. Sure, you’ll get some nutritional content from the lettuce and all the other goodies on the salad, but the dressing might have as much as 30 grams of fat in it, most of it saturated fat. Stick with light dressings or even keep a bottle of dressing in the fridge at work.

If you’re out and about running errands and get hungry, stop at 7-11, and grab a bottle of milk, some trail mix or a granola bar and a piece of fruit. It might not be gourmet, but it should boost your energy level until later and then dinner.

Keep lunch items at work. There are many things you can keep in your desk that are shelf-stable and still healthy. A packet of tuna and crackers were my favorite. Stay away from fruit juices loaded with sugar and prefer fresh fruit. Nuts, trail mix, and granola bars are all good lunchtime choices. Stay away from sodium-laden canned soups and noodle bowls. Not only can they provide you with more than the maximum sodium you need for one day, but they also won’t provide the complex carb and protein boost you need to get you through the afternoon and keep you from stalking the vending machine later for an unhealthy snack.

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