Low carb diets keep us trim
Western diets have recently shifted heavily towards starchy carbohydrates, at the cost of vegetables and proteins; to keep unwanted weight off and have more energy later in the day, try some low carb lunch box ideas.
Carbohydrates are chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms, both of which are essential building blocks of life on earth. But the starchy carbohydrates in white flour cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, which increase the risk of weight gain and diabetes, especially when there’s no opportunity to burn this energy off. Carbohydrates that aren’t used up for energy (in other words, burned off as sugar—that’s where the spikes and crashes come in) are stored as fat, often in arterial walls. Bread has been the staff of life in Western society for a long time, and there’s nothing wrong with white flour—provided you eat in moderation. (And, for many centuries, humans needed the heavy starches to power them through a long day in the fields/forests/trenches).
Instead of baking and cooking with white flour, try using whole-wheat flour, which has a milder effect on the bloodstream. Whole-wheat flour also has 12 or more grams of fiber per cup, along with zinc, magnesium, and B vitamins. If you like to bake, whole-wheat muffins, cookies, breads, and cakes are all good low carb lunchbox ideas.
Another side to carbohydrates is their effect on metabolism
White rice, white flour pasta, white breads, etc., all have unprocessed carbohydrates, which are harder for the body to break down into sugar and burn. When these molecules are stored as long-term fat instead, the end result is increased insulin production, and less energy. Brown rice is far healthier than white rice, and also has a high fiber content, which aids digestion and extends the feeling of satiety.
What to eat instead of a white bread sandwich
We’ll offer a low carb lunchbox recipe idea in a little bit, but first, a gentle reminder: lunches don’t have to include sandwiches. PB&Js have been a staple of American lunch boxes for the last sixty years, but unless you make one with natural peanut butter (no sodium added), low-sugar jelly, and whole-wheat bread, it’s not actually a healthy sandwich. Instead of a PB&J, try a green apple with natural peanut butter. Apples contain pectin, a plant chemical that tamps down the blood sugar spikes that bring on hunger pangs. Paired with the protein in peanut butter, this combination is just as filling as a sandwich. Bonus: eating an apple is a reasonable substitute for brushing your teeth when you can’t—they fight gum disease and freshen breath.
Brown rice with steamed or sautéed vegetables makes an excellent, well-rounded lunch. You can prepare a whole pot of brown rice over the weekend and keep it in the fridge all week, warming it up at lunchtime. For a simple shoyu sauce, combine two tablespoons of soy sauce, a splash of sesame oil, one minced garlic clove, and a pinch of brown sugar. Heat all this in a small saucepan over gentle heat for three to five minutes, stirring constantly. Garlic is a heart-healthy plant, and it also aids digestion. Steam broccoli to add folate and iron to your lunch, then drizzle the sauce on top.
A recipe for low carb bliss
This one you can start in a slow cooker the night before. The recipe makes enough for a family of five to each take a good bowlful to work or school. You’ll need:
- Three cups organic oatmeal
- Half a cup raisins or dried cherries
- One Fuji or Macintosh apple, peeled and coarsely chopped
- One cup water
- One tablespoon brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
Milk is optional, just a splash is all that’s required. A handful of walnuts or almonds will add omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the brain. The beauty of oatmeal is that it’s a low carbohydrate, high fiber, extremely filling plant food. Combine all the ingredients in the slow cooker, and cook on low for six to eight hours. The next morning, lunch is ready (and/or breakfast).
The best place to stash a delicious oatmeal lunch is in the 100% leakproof Bento Lunch Box, which you can find HERE. Stay tuned for more low carb lunch box ideas, along with plenty of cooking tips and tricks.