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What’s in your Lunchbox?

lunch blog photoToday was the first day of school for Charlotte-Mecklenburg public schools, and with that comes the packing of the lunchboxes. For those of you who have kids, you probably shopped, prepped and packed yesterday. But what about your own lunchbox?

I put a lot of thought into packing a balanced lunch for my teenage sons. They always have a sandwich or wrap that includes some protein with lettuce or cucumber, fresh fruit, a salty snack and a granola bar. Sometimes a yogurt or cheese stick. Occasionally a Little Debbie when I’m feeling nostalgic. My older son, who has cross country after school, usually gets an extra banana and granola bar.

And then there’s my lunch. If I’m working from home, it is leftovers from last night’s dinner. And many times, it is whatever I can grab out of my pantry, quick and easy, particularly if I ate a late breakfast and am not feeling so hungry around noon.

As a health coach, I know that I need to do better. I still believe that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And one can easily argue that lunch is the second-most important. Unlike dinner, the energy we get from our lunch needs to last us through a long afternoon of work, meetings, carpool and/or rush hour traffic, dinner preparation and in some cases an afternoon workout. How balanced is your lunch?

In my experience, I have found that people who plan their lunches are much more successful in achieving their goal, be it weight loss or sports performance. Eating a well-balanced meal mid-day is the key to warding off afternoon trips to the vending machines or happy hour “squid arms” (as one client calls it) when everything in your kitchen comes after you the minute you walk in the door.

Here are some tips that have worked for others. Most importantly, put some thought into your lunch this week instead of just going with the flow. Then reap the benefits of more afternoon energy and less over-eating late in the day when your body really needs to wind down rather than fuel up.

  1. Make a plan. Rather than waiting for a co-worker to suggest a last-minute lunch place, know what and where you will have a healthy lunch before you start your day.
  2. Pack a lunch. This works especially well for people who pack their children’s lunch. If you are already doing it, why not throw in an extra lunch for yourself? Include something from each of these food groups: protein (meat, beans, nut butter, eggs); complex carbs (whole grains, beans or potatoes); veggies (lettuce/tomato on your sandwich or a side of carrot sticks); fresh fruit; and dairy (lowfat yogurt or cheese).
  3. Invest in a few containers. Look for re-usable plastic bowls with lids, microwave safe containers (if you have access to a microwave) and ice blocks that you throw in the freezer and pull out in the morning to keep your food from spoiling throughout the day. Don’t forget a water bottle to boot!
  4. Take a break. While eating at your desk may seem efficient, taking the time to focus on your lunch (without staring at your phone or computer) is more likely to help you stay productive throughout the afternoon.
  5. Don’t stuff yourself. You know that afternoon “slump” that may scare you from even eating lunch? It is more likely due to what and how much you ate, rather than the fact that you ate at all. Mind your hunger “cues” – in other words, eat when you’re hungry and stop when you start to feel full. Just because it tastes good doesn’t mean you should keep eating, and just because it is there doesn’t mean you have to finish it. Best case scenario is when you save a bit of your lunch to eat 2-3 hours later as an afternoon pick-me-up.

For more tips on balanced eating and making healthful choices a natural part of your lifestyle, set up a free consultation by contacting Melissa@CoachMCares.com or text me at 704-957-9341.

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