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Packing a Lunch: Healthy Food to Go

Here's how to enjoy healthy lunches even if you can't find the time

Man eating healthy food from lunch box

Ah, lunch. The most overlooked meal of the day. The main problem with not planning for lunch is that you're not focused on your food. Instead, you're sending emails, checking on the grandkids, shuffling paper, the perfect recipe for overeating. We know it's tempting to have coffee for breakfast and fast food for lunch. But these quick fixes can lead to obesity as well as reduced energy and focus.

For those of you looking to save time, money, and calories during your lunch break, VA has ten easy tips to power up your lunch, and so you feel re-energized and satisfied, without the midday food coma:

  1. Buy a good-looking and practical lunch kit. Many come with sections or individual serving-sized compartments to keep items separated.

  2. Pick up your favorite salad on your way home from work in the evenings for lunch the next day. Ask for cheese or meat on the side to keep it fresh. The following day, just grab the bag and go.

  3. Keep a salad crisp by packing the dressing separately. You can use small containers to wrap the dressing or request extra packets of dressing when eating out for later use.

  4. Pack bread, meat, cheese, tomatoes and lettuce, cucumbers, and condiments separately, and put your sandwich together right before you eat.

  5. Pack carrot sticks, sliced cucumbers, peppers, apples, etc. to add a satisfying crunch to your lunch.

  6. Pack a variety of colorful veggies and fruits like red, black, and blueberries; green, red and yellow peppers; white bananas; black beans; orange carrots; etc. to make your meal more attractive.

  7. If you are doing physical activity in the heat, you might need a sports drink to replace the electrolytes lost in sweat, but if you spend most your time in an air-conditioned office, choose water for the best hydration.

  8. Beans are packed with protein, fiber, and antioxidants to help fight cancer and other diseases, help regulate blood sugar, and battle constipation. Beans can mix into dips or hummus to pair with veggie sticks, pretzels, or chips. They are naturally low in fat and sodium, which makes them heart-healthy.

  9. If you work in an office, reduce everyday stress by eating away from your desk. Walk to your car, an outside bench, or a different lunch area to break the monotony. Reserve 5-10 minutes of your break to take a short walk outside or in the halls to boost your mood and stretch your legs.

  10. Don't overeat midday. Instead, eat to satisfy, not stuff yourself at lunchtime. You can include an afternoon snack like fruit and nuts for late-day energy slumps, but avoid the unhealthy options in the snack machine.

Don't forget to keep track

Tracking what you eat and your energy levels are key to figuring out what works for you. Keep a simple log of the food you eat and the energy levels you have during the day on My HealtheVet. The My HealtheVet's Track Health section allows a registered user to record and track their health information in one convenient location. One can keep track of their diet and exercise in the Food Journal section.

Pretty soon patterns will start to emerge. These observations will then allow you to make other decisions to change your eating habits. You will see your weight loss be even more successful!

Please vote in our unscientific poll. All responses are anonymous.

Do you always eat lunch?

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Read More

Healthy Teaching Kitchen

Eat Wisely

Choosing Healthy Meals As You Get Older (National Institute on Aging)

Snacks for Adults (MedlinePlus)

Updated March 26, 2019