If you’re tired of trying to find something healthy at the fast food places near your office, want a healthy meal when you can’t get away from your desk or simply don’t approve of the menu on the school lunch program, packing healthy lunches doesn’t have to be a hassle. They also can be extremely delicious, too. A balanced lunch should contain a high quality protein, healthy fat, complex carbohydrates, fruit and vegetables and of course, water. While parents often include juice boxes, not water, with lunches, juice drinks are mostly sugar and very little juice. Water is always a better option. Not only does it hydrate, it doesn’t contain empty calories that can lead to obesity.
Choose a high quality protein.
Whether you’re a vegetarian or omnivore, you need protein. Protein is a primary building block for muscle tissue, bones, cartilage, blood and skin. You need it for enzymes, hormones and other necessary chemicals in your body. The problem is that your body can’t store it and it needs a lot of it. Protein helps keep you feeling fuller longer and can help you lose weight. Hardboiled eggs, cheese, nuts and nut butter are super simple options for both kids and adults. Veggie wraps with ham and cheese are also a hit with both.
Healthy fat is good for you.
While some people recoil at the very mention of fat, you need fat in your diet. It can’t be just any type of fat. For instance, trans fats are bad for you. High fat fried foods shouldn’t be on your list either. Without healthy fat, you can’t absorb fat soluble vitamins A, K, D and E. Healthy fat provides energy and keeps you feeling fuller. It helps build cells and is necessary for brain and nerve functioning, as well as keeping your heart healthy. Avocado, cheese, whole eggs, fatty fish—think salmon and sardines—and seeds like pumpkin and chia seeds are good sources.
Complex carbohydrates provide the energy you need.
Simple carbs include sugar, fructose and even fruit juice. They’re the type of carbs to avoid. Complex carbohydrates take longer to digest so you’ll feel fuller longer. They contain fiber that aids digestion and keeps you regular. Whole grains, whole fruit, beans, sweet potatoes and pasta are some of the choices Fruits and vegetables are known to be healthy and can provide not only nutrients, but also fiber. People need five to thirteen servings per day, based on age and weight.
- Sneak in vegetables to kid’s lunches or add interest to yours with ideas that use vegetables, like mini quiche muffins with veggies or broccoli nuggets that look like chicken nuggets, only green!
- Two ideas for balanced kid’s lunches are veggies with dressing for dip, hard boiled eggs, grapes and pretzels as option one. Option two can include chicken avocado salad roll-ups, cherry tomatoes, sliced red peppers, hummus dip and fruit salad.
- Grown up option for brown bagging it can include food that you can warm if you have a microwave at your office. Spicy chicken breasts pressure cooked atop rice and beans, with trail mix and fresh veggies on the side is one option to brown bag it in style.