Overcome the Lunchtime Bores, Blues and Stress
Overcome the Lunchtime Bores,
Blues and Stress
By Jenny Guivens MS, RD, CDE, U.S. Air Force Academy Health Promotions
It's that time again – lunch and the mid-day "crash." Are you making the usual mad dash for the drive-thru? Or is the office schedule too hectic to even step away? Perhaps you're just too tired of the same old ham and cheese sandwich.
Lunch is an important time to refuel, rejuvenate and recharge. By making healthy choices, with a little planning, you will feel awesome, ward off the afternoon "fog" and munchies, and likely even save money. Try some of these ideas for a fresh take on the ol' brown bag and an economical tasty alternative to unhealthy, high-sodium-and-fat drive-thru foods.
Don't have hours to spend preparing an elaborate spread for your lunch? No problem! Use MyPlate to guide you in building a quick, well-rounded lunch? In 10 minutes, you can create a healthy balanced meal by grabbing the pieces to this puzzle.
- Grab a grain: whole wheat crackers, leftover brown rice, whole wheat slice of bread or tortilla.
- Add a protein: leftover chicken breast, can of tuna, couple hard boiled eggs, or low-fat cottage cheese.
- Don't forget the fruits and veggies: throw in an apple or grapes; grab baby carrots, pea pods or grape tomatoes.
Done! A healthy balanced meal in minutes.
Rethink the Traditional Brown Bag
Already bringing your lunch but find yourself bored with same old thing? Refresh your ideas and keep it fun. Mason Jar Salads can be made on Sunday for a ready-to-go meal for every day of the week. Because mason jars are perfectly portable, get creative and use them also for soup or a fruit and yogurt parfait in addition to salad. Check out these USAF Lunches for additional ideas and inspiration.
If a "square meal" isn't in your cards, make the best of your busy schedule. You can resist temptations that come from being overly hungry by preparing yourself with appetizer-sized portions of healthy foods to nibble throughout the afternoon. Start with a cup of Greek yogurt with fresh berries.
Later in the afternoon, enjoy carrots and hummus and a handful of whole grain crackers. Even if you can't stop for lunch (though we do recommend it), preparing small, healthy portions to snack on will keep you satisfied as you work the day away.
Nibbling on health foods such as these, are a great way to up the nutrition value of your diet while avoiding the risk of consuming empty calories by impulse vending machine purchases.
Get the Kids Involved
Packing a lunch from home can be a valuable experience to share with your child. Including kids in this task is a great way to spend time together. Think about it, you can make meals and memories together. Kids are more likely to try eating foods they help select and prepare, so get them involved.
Examples of healthy, kid-approved lunches are hummus, whole-grain crackers and yogurt, or even the leftovers from last night's dinner. Try different sandwich fillings, such as tabbouleh mixed with feta cheese in a pita pocket, or a veggie burger. Have fun with your kids. Check out Lunch Box Recipes for Kids (or Adults!) together. Decide on which ones you are all going to try. Your kids will feel extra close to you knowing they are eating the same lunch you are, and one you prepared together.
The Bottom Line
No matter what your lunch style, time allowance or preference, try these suggestions to assure you don't skip a meal or go long periods without fueling your body. Use our lunch ideas to prepare a few healthy and filling essentials that will keep you energized throughout you and your family's day.