Packing the Perfect Lunch
With summer officially over and fall in full swing, it’s back to the grind. Whether it be returning to work after a summer vacation, or back to the routine of early morning class, we’re all busy bees this time of year. What does that mean? It means our mid-day meals are slowly suffering from neglect and abandonment. Yeah, you can go buy lunch at your local deli or swing by the dining commons after your 2 pm lecture… But, we oftentimes make poor diet choices when we’re rushed and hungry. To combat the temptations of store bought food, I recommend packing home made lunches, which not only save you money, but ensure that you’re aware of what you are consuming! Here are the components of a perfectly balanced home made lunch that will sustain your mid-day hunger and keep your mind sharp throughout the afternoon.
A lot of us fail to keep a well-balanced diet in mind when we’re scrambling for what to pack for lunch. Easy lunches are oftentimes composed of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a bag of chips or pre-packaged snack of some sort, and maybe a piece of fruit. When you begin to analyze these components, it is easy to see that all of these items are very high in carbohydrates. PB and J? 45 grams of carbs. 1 bag of goldfish? 20 grams of carbs. 1 average sized apple? 25 grams of carbs! When packing lunch, it’s key to include protein, vegetables, fruits and even carbs, to ensure a balanced diet. Including a source of healthy fats will always curb your appetite and keep you fuller for longer too. Try a chickpea sandwich on natural whole grain bread with avocado, carrots with hummus, dried fruit and nut mix,and some deliciously sweet medjool dates for dessert.
#2 Cut out pre-packaged goods
As easy as it is to throw a granola bar into your backpack or toss a bag of Cheez-Its into your lunch pale, try to avoid consuming pre-packaged foods throughout the day. Processed foods are filled with preservatives and chemicals that help sustain shelf life. However, they aren’t helping much else when it comes to your health. Stay away from nutrition labels with ingredients such as sodium nitrite and silicon dioxide, as they are linked to an array of health controversies. (Read more about harmful food chemicals here). As a safe bet, stick to whole foods, that have one to five ingredients that you are able to pronounce.
#3 Curbing Appetite
A smart move when packing your own lunch is including foods that will curb your appetite, and sustain you throughout the day. It’s always the worst when you’re still hungry after having eaten lunch. To combat empty stomach syndrome, try forming meals with sustainable foods like avocados, various nuts, beans and melons. The protein and water content in these foods will keep you fuller longer, improving your lunchtime experience in the long run!
#4 Keep Hydration in Mind
Like it was mentioned above, drinking water and remaining hydrated is a pivotal part of being healthy. Not only do foods with high water content keep you sustained for longer, but water helps fight off bacteria and other toxins, flushing your system of any harmful ingredients. Eating water-filled foods and drinking H2O throughout the day aids in digestive issues and can also help to relieve headaches and migraines. Eat smart and kill two birds with one stone by choosing foods with high water content!
#5 Sweet Tooth Satisfaction
We all love a little sweet treat after a mid-day meal. The key to satisfying your dessert cravings is avoiding processed, high sugar content treats and sticking with items that are naturally sweet. Foods like mejdool dates, dried fruit, and dark chocolate make great desserts. Nut butters are also great alternatives! However, proceed with caution, for dried fruit contains a load of carbohydrates, which can pack on the pounds quickly if over eaten. In addition, the natural fats and oils within these foods must be consumed in moderation to guarantee a better health.
What do you eat for lunch? Share in the comments below!