How a healthy lunch box will change your life!
Okay, not your whole life, but certainly your health and energy levels—packing a healthy lunch box is crucial for staying trim, alert, and at your physical peak all day.
What goes in to a healthy lunch box?
We’ll start with the basics: the five food groups. The most recent information from the USDA advises people to divide their plate between vegetables and legumes/beans; fruit; grains; lean proteins; and dairy products—giving the most space to the first group, and decreasing portion amounts from there. “Good” grains include whole grains and high fiber cereals; lean proteins encompass poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, tempeh, and seeds. When choosing dairy products, go for the low fat, low sugar options, like organic yogurt or feta cheese. Higher fat dairy products—cream cheese, ice cream, heavy cream—will fill up your whole daily fat allowance while leaving you groggy from the effort of digesting complex fat molecules. Sugar added to dairy products, like yogurt and ice cream, are also counter to a healthy lunch box, because they cause blood sugar levels to spike and crash—this leads to energy lows, and, when eaten too much and too often, cardiovascular problems.
Another important part of packing a healthy lunch box is what you bring to drink. Many people go throughout their day slightly dehydrated, which results in fatigue, headaches, and irritability. Eight 8-ounce glasses of water should be considered the minimum for a working adult. Lots of offices and even homes are quite dry in the winter months; extra water will keep your skin looking fresh and firm. Don’t drink overly cold water though, especially with a hot meal, as it requires a lot of energy to regulate cold substances internally.
How to switch from not so healthy to another way
The hardest part of packing a healthy lunch box is probably just making the switch from unhealthy food choices. If you’re in the habit of going out for a heavy deli sandwich every day, making and bringing a whole-wheat lean protein sandwich with low-fat mayo may seem kind of lackluster. But not only will you feel better after eating a reasonably healthy sandwich, you’ll save money too. Making your own healthy lunch turns into its own reward—you get more done in the afternoon thanks to the quality of the food you’re eating, and you don’t have to worry about lunch—where to get it, what you think you want to eat—it’s taken care of. You can use the extra time on your lunch break to take a quiet walk and clear your mind.
If you’re not used to making your own lunch, and you don’t have much free time in the morning, consider making up some healthy options over the weekend, or on a mid-week evening. Pasta salads (with low fat cheese and dressings), cold omelettes, vegetable lasagnas, quinoa salads, dark leafy green salads, whole-wheat wraps, yogurt with fresh berries, oatmeal with almonds—all of these can be prepared either the night before or very quickly in the morning, or just before eating (as with instant oatmeal).
If you’re ready to start packing a healthy lunch box every day, there are many thousands of recipes available for free on the Internet, or at your local library—we’ll keep posting them here too. Check out our 100% Leakproof Bento Slimline lunch box, a primo place to stash a healthy lunch.