There are a lot of busy people out there who are trying to increase the healthy side of their lives. This can be difficult, however, when you are constantly on the GO!
As a mother of five with the 4H fair season approaching, baseball practice starting for 2 of my kids, plus school trips, projects, and my own work schedule to pack in, I know how easy it is to jump on the burger and fry, drive through bandwagon.
Also, don’t get me wrong, having a double cheeseburger and yummy, greasy fries, every once in a while is perfectly acceptable.
The problem arises when this occurs daily. When your busy life gets so far ahead of you that each lunch hour is a lesson on what NOT to eat regularly.
Being an “on the go” person myself I have a few tips for those of you that want to make your lunches a bit healthier and thus increase your overall wellness.
PACK YOUR LUNCH
#1 is also probably the most obvious, and most unlikely to occur for many people. However, if you want the healthiest, and also most budget savvy option, making your own lunch is where it’s at.
Pack it up the night before or even stock the fridge at work with essentials for a satisfying meal. When I pack lunches for the family to go on a day trip we pack a sandwich (ham and cheese or PB&J), fresh fruit, yogurt, and crackers. You can jazz up your options by checking out EatingWell.com’s healthy lunch options as well. No matter what restaurant you go to, no matter how healthy the item you order claims to be, it will NEVER be as good for you as when you make it yourself.
SKIP THE MAYO
Grabbing a sandwich when you’re in a hurry is the natural choice for lunch 8/10 times. A quick run to a sub shot or darting through the drive-through at any burger joint is easy and cheap, but not always healthy.
Whether you are grabbing a burger or BLT your best bet for increasing the healthiness of your food is to avoid mayonaise. Mayo is incredibly high in calories and bad fats. Instead of letting the sub shop gob on mayonaise, try asking for a touch of olive oil, which is tasty and full of good fats, instead. There are also a variety of mustard’s that may be able to satisfy your taste buds, including creole and horseradish!
If you simply can’t avoid the white stuff, opt for the lesser evil and go for a substitute like Miracle Whip. Many places don’t carry this option but you can buy the small packets to keep in your car or a full container for your work fridge.
DON’T MUCK UP YOUR SALAD
I love salads. No matter what time of year it is I can’t resist a bowl of leafy greens, fresh veggies, and chicken or steak! By design salads are meant to healthy, thus, many people assume that they are being healthy by eating one, no matter what they have topped it with.
I”m not talking about cheese, eggs, nuts or even bacon bits. These are packed with protein and don’t come in large enough quantities on a salad to do damage. I’m talking about DRESSING. Don’t get me wrong I love creamy, chunky blue cheese and spicy ranch, but these are not friendly to your mid section. I also really dislike low calorie versions of these dressings, so I will often get a side of a low cal french or vinaigrette and put just a dribble of my favorite ranch dressing in that to get a tiny taste of what I love. That way I’m at least MOSTLY healthy. For the best dressings, though, stick with oil and vinegar and vinaigrettes. Most restaurants also offer at least one low calories, low fat option as well. Along with this, don’t slather your salad in dressing. Most establishments that premix their salads will use too much dressing, so ask for it on the side and use about half as much you think you will actually need. You can always add more, but you can’t really wash your salad off if you use too much.
SKIP FRIED OPTIONS
There is nothing quite so savory as good fried chicken….There is also nothing quite so terrible for your system.
Having a fried chicken dinner every once in awhile is not a problem, everything in moderation is fine. However, skip the fried food at lunch. choose the grilled chicken sandwich or simply ask for the fried sandwich so you get all the fixings but request that it be grilled. Instead of crispy chicken on your salad opt for some savory steak. Save the fried chicken for an amazing special dinner, don’t waste your fried fantasies on a hurried lunch!
In the hussel and bussel of work, kids, traffic, etc. it can be really hard to find time to sit and eat. However, even if you can’t manage to sit at the establishment you buy lunch from, try to make it back to your office before chowing down, even plopping a bench outside is better than eating while you walk, drive, etc.
Not only is it unsafe to eat and drive, but when you sit down to eat you can focus more on your food and on your body’s reactions to it. When you sit, you tend to take more time to eat. You can savor each bite, getting more satisfaction out of your meal, and you will give yourself time to begin to feel full. If I am in a hurry I can scarf down and entire cheeseburger and fries in about 5 minutes. However, I generally feel overfull and a bit ill afterwards. If I sit down to eat the same amount of food, I take more time to eat and my body has time to tell me when it is beginning to feel full. Sitting down to eat will help you eat less because your body will have time to let you know that it needs less. Even if you eat the same amount, you are more likely to be more satisfied with your meal for longer, reducing cravings for vending machine snacks later on.
Now you’re ready to eat lunch like a pro and be healthy while you do it!
What are your healthy lunch habits?