Healthy lunch, happy night

When you’re looking to lose weight and have more energy later in the day, it’s helpful to examine your eating patterns, and it’s also a good idea to incorporate low calorie lunch box ideas. There’s an old adage about food portions (which has largely been abandoned in the US, but still lives on in Europe and other places): eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. When you consume most of your daily calories in the morning and noon times, you have a chance to burn off those calories as energy, instead of storing them as fat—which is what happens when you eat a giant dinner and pass out.

Eating a healthy, moderately sized lunch is very important towards overall wellbeing

Eating a healthy, moderately sized lunch is very important towards overall wellbeing

which is another side of living like a prince. Humans experience two circadian sleep signals every day: one lasts from midnight until seven in the morning, the other happens between about one and three in the afternoon. If you skip lunch or eat a heavily salty/sweet one (or a huge lunch), you’ll be far more susceptible to feeling sleepy, groggy, and irritable than if you eat a modest, low calorie lunch. These feelings can persist into the evening; oftentimes, people try to counterbalance them with caffeine and other stimulants, which may interfere with sleep. A better idea is to drink several extra glasses of water, which will aid the digestive system in processing the overlarge meal.

 

2. Low calorie is not the same as low flavor

Aside from a glass of water, nothing you ingest has zero calories. But some fruits and vegetables contain fewer calories than the body burns off chewing and digesting them—these are the so-called “zero-calorie” foods. They can be eaten in large quantities without throwing off a diet, and they all have excellent nutritional values. It’s a myth that these foods don’t taste “good”; what’s better than fresh watermelon in summer, or a green apple in the fall? In terms of low calorie lunch box ideas, you can pair zero calorie foods (celery, cucumbers, asparagus) with lean proteins to round out your midday meal.

Meals built around lean protein (chicken, lean beef, tofu, beans, low-fat dairy, fish), leave you feeling satiated longer than meals that are heavy in carbohydrates and fats (think cheeseburgers, deli sandwiches, etc). The feeling of satiety will keep you from snacking on whatever’s nearby, or chugging an energy drink—this is especially important if you sit at a desk for hours at time, not burning off many calories.

Returning to taste vs. calories for a minute: instead of seasoning a low calorie salad with a highly salty and fatty dressing, there are other options. Lemon juice, pepper, and olive oil are delicious on arugula; raspberry vinaigrette can be made at home and pairs well with many salads. The same is true for sandwiches—read on for a few more low calorie lunch box ideas.

3. Recipes with spunk

Watercress is an often-overlooked plant, but it’s a spunky sort of cruciferous vegetable.  Full of vitamins A, C and K, watercress has just four calories a cup.  Here’s a recipe for egg salad sandwiches with watercress. If you don’t have watercress, you can use cucumbers or regular lettuce as well. (with thanks to EatingWell.com):

Ingredients:

8 large hard-boiled eggs

3 tablespoons plain yogurt (go for a no sugar added variety)

1 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon grainy mustard

4 scallions, trimmed and chopped

Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

3/4 cup washed and stemmed watercress

8 slices pumpernickel bread

This recipe makes four sandwiches, so it works for a weekend luncheon or a whole family’s lunch box needs (you can prepare them the night before and keep in the fridge). 

First, scoop out egg yolks (clean hands work well for this task); put two yolks in a small bowl and save the rest for another use. Mash yolks with a fork, stir in yogurt, mayo, and mustard; add chopped egg whites and scallions and season with salt and pepper (all this is pretty standard egg salad prep). Open up the bread slices into sandwich formation and arrange watercress across four slices. A note on watercress: although delicious and easy to grow in an herb garden, it doesn’t keep for more than a week once picked. Cover the watercress with egg salad, close up the sandwiches. One sandwich yields 289 calories, 11 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber, and 16 grams of protein—it’s also got folate, vitamin A, and iron. A sandwich like this fits quite nicely inside a Bento Slimline lunch box. Looking for even more low calorie lunch box ideas? Stay tuned to .