What if the items you pack in your lunch are the key to productivity long past 2 p.m.? Rose Reisman, cookbook author, television personality, and expert on all things nutrition, offers the best types of food to pack in your lunch, and ensure your body is fuelled for success.
By Rose Reisman
As women we’ve always got multiple things on our plates, no pun intended. A work day is hectic enough as it is, and when we’re focusing on the task at hand and dealing with pressing deadlines, our lunch can be an afterthought. We often skip it all together or grab the quickest and easiest meal available. If you’re wondering why you can’t lift your head off your desk by 4 p.m., you now know the reason! Healthy food is the key to maintaining our focus and energy levels throughout the day. Just like a car, you can’t run on empty.
It’s interesting how we tend to put our health on the back burner while we give all our attention to our work, families and friends. Good food is what gives us the fuel to be better at work and at home.
Today we are faced with an epidemic of obesity, heart disease, diabetes type 2 and increased cancer rates; many of these ailments could be reduced by 70% if we ate better and exercised. Prevention starts early—understanding nutrition from a young age helps to ensure we are healthy adults, which is why I started a Children’s Lunch Program, providing hot, healthy lunches to elementary schools in the GTA.
Not eating well is easy, and often blamed on lack of time in our days. A healthy and tasty lunch can be prepared with a little time and effort! If you’re not eating the right foods, your blood sugar levels will rise and then fall leading to hunger, fatigue, and lack of concentration. Here are my tips on how to pack an energizing lunch that’ll keep you fuelled all day long:
Meal prep makes all the difference. Double up when you are making dinner so you have simple, ready-to-go lunches for the upcoming days. Or freeze leftovers for a meal in the next few weeks.
Variety is the spice of life. Rotate your lunch repertoire so you don’t get bored. Fast food looks more appealing if you’re packing that same old turkey sandwich every day. Try a super bowl with whole grains, greens, vegetables, lean protein, and a lighter dressing. A chilli or stew is great during the colder months.
Fill up on the good stuff. Make sure you combine at least three of the four food groups at lunch, including whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and low fat dairy. And don’t forget a couple of snacks for mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Two food groups is perfect for a snack: fruit and handful of nuts, plain Greek yogurt and fruit, or an ounce of cheese and whole grain crackers. This will keep you full until your next meal.
Pick plain Greek yogurt for your breakfast or snacks and add your own fruit. Skip the fruit at the bottom versions as they have added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Three-quarters of a cup of plain Greek yogurt has approximately 18 gm of protein, compared to regular yogurt that may have only 6 gm of protein. No need to go 0% fat—a 2% variety is ideal as we need fat in our diet.
Go for 100% whole grains when picking breads, wraps, crackers or uncooked grains. If the label states whole grains, whole wheat or 7 grains, that does not mean 100% whole grains.
Experiment with different whole grains—like quinoa, bulgur, farro, kamut, spelt, wheat berries, and millet. These whole grains supply more fibre, protein, vitamins, and minerals than any white grains. They can be used to replace pasta or rice and will require much less dressing, saving you unnecessary calories and fat.
Try to avoid pre-packaged processed foods which are high in sodium and have chemicals and preservatives.
Don’t get fooled by nutritional claims that convince you that you’re eating healthier. Labels such as low fat, no cholesterol, fat-free, gluten-free, no carbs, and even organic can be misleading. Read the full nutritional picture.
Starting with small, positive changes in your diet will have a domino effect on your well-being. Every meal is a new chance at a healthy choice!
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