Healthy Lunch Ideas

Jan 4, 2015 //

If you’re not brown-bagging it, you might get caught in a
lunch trap – giving into the unhealthy options at the vending machine or
cafeteria, or even worse, not eating at all.

You don’t need to have a background in health or nutrition
to know that a bag of chips and a chocolate bar don’t qualify as a
well-balanced lunch. Sometimes though when you’ve got a stack of files on your
desk or you’re offered a last-minute double-time shift, a healthy lunch is
pushed back as a priority. It doesn’t need to be. Arm yourself with these
strategies for having your healthy mid-day meal first and foremost:

Bring Lunch

The best strategy is to bring your lunch. You can control
the amount of condiments on your sandwich, the amount of cheese and croutons on
your salad, opt for a whole wheat bagel instead of an enriched one, and even
make the most of healthy leftovers from last night’s dinner. Life is busy
though, so you can forgive yourself if you don’t bring a healthy lunch with you
everyday. For those days that you do have time, we recommend these brownbag

• Egg salad sandwich on brown toast

• Spinach salad with tomato and feta

• Vegetable soup and a baked sweet potato

• Grilled sweet pepper sandwich

• Vegetable burrito

• Grilled chicken and kale salad

• Veggies with hummus, turkey breast skewer and a half-pita

• A tri-salad with quinoa salad, pasta and radicchio

• Greek salad with chicken

• Peanut butter on a whole grain bagel with banana
slices and flaxseeds

Don’t Skip Lunch

You might think it’s better to avoid lunch, but you won’t
end up eating fewer calories for the day. In fact, researchers
suggest that when you do skip a meal, more often than not the next meal will
overcompensate with calories and portions.

Stock Up On Fruit Snacks

An apple a day is a good rule, but have you considered the
health benefits of tomatoes? They are rich with antioxidants, including vitamin
C and lycopene, and they’re also good for weight management, reports a
recent study
. Over a four-week period, female subjects were required to eat
a tomato before lunch, and their body weight, body fat, blood glucose and
triglycerides, cholesterol and uric acid levels were checked. The tomato had
significant and positive effects on all markers.

Not a fan of plain ol’ tomatoes? Try these lunch ideas:

• Tomato slices with vinegar and a dash of salt

• Tomato and feta cubes

• Tomato chunks with olive oil and fresh basil leaves

• Tomato slices with a dash of smoke flavoring

• Baked tomato halves with pepper and parmesan

Avoid These Five Lunch Traps

For those days when you have to grab something, avoid these
unhealthy food traps and eat strategically.

Food Truck

The Trap: Bacon and Egg Sandwich

More and more, food trucks are spinning healthier options
and foodie-like offerings. If you have access to these trucks, that’s great. If
the food truck that stops by your work has a basic menu, consider these healthier
choices: a turkey breast sandwich, chicken salad or a greens salad.

Office Cafeteria

The Trap: Chicken Finger Salad

There is a slow movement happening where employers see the
benefit of having healthy food at cafeterias – better focus, performance
and overall health for employees. Fried foods are so tempting though when you
haven’t eaten for a few hours and the caffeine from your morning coffee has
already worn off. Instead of the unhealthy options, try these: make your own
salad at the salad bar, have a veggie quesadilla or a half-sandwich with soup.

Fast Food Restaurant

The Trap: Burger and Fries

When you’re on the road, nothing seems more convenient than
a drive-thru. Instead get out of your car, walk into the restaurant and order
something healthier. Go for a slice of veggie pizza, grilled chicken sandwich
or a six-inch submarine sandwich.

Drug/Variety Store

The Trap: Bag of white cheddar popcorn and a soda

Often times when we’re really hungry, we think a snack will
tide us over until we can eat a proper meal later. The only problem with that
is that the calories, sugar and fat in junk food can total more than what we
would consume if we just grabbed lunch. There are healthy convenience foods at
these stores, such as a can of tuna with whole grain crackers, a protein or
meal replacement bar or a microwaveable rice bowl or soup.


The Trap: Muffin and a flavored latte

Cafés and bistros often have decadent treats for its
patrons, and they have some clean eats, too. Instead of an oversized muffin and
a sugary coffee topped with whipped cream, order a bagel, crudités and a cup of
green tea. You can also enjoy a tuna wrap or a salad with a black coffee or
herbal tea.

Lisa Hannam

Lisa Hannam is an award-winning health journalist, writer, editor and blogger. Her work has been published in Glow Magazine, Best Health, Oxygen, Clean Eating, Reader's Digest and more.

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