How to make a healthy lunch

How to make a healthy lunch

What are ways to actually make your lunches more nutritious?

Alyssa Pike, RD, manager of nutrition communications at the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation, told Healthline that it’s important to break down what it means for a meal to be “healthy.”

People often have a very narrow view of what’s considered healthy — they think salads and veggies are the only ‘healthy’ options — which leaves them disappointed when their real-life choices don’t fit in with those expectations,” she said.

She said one key is variety. Incorporating multiple food groups and an array of colorful foods on your plate generally is a good rule of thumb to determine that you’re including a range of nutrients in your meal.

From the survey, 86 percent of participants said they prepare work lunches at home at least some of the time. Women were more likely to do this than men.

If you’re preparing your lunch at home before work, Pike suggested you try to include at least three food groups if possible.

Look to whole grains like whole wheat bread or crackers, protein-rich items like peanut butter or a chicken breast, fruits like avocados and strawberries, dairy options such as yogurt and cheese, as well as vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, or tomatoes.

“Utilize your pantry. There are plenty of healthy, shelf-stable options out there like canned fish, whole grain pasta, nuts, etc. If you have access to a fridge, easily transportable options like hard boiled eggs, sliced fruit, string cheese, and sliced veggies can be stored until it’s time to eat. If you don’t have a fridge, a lunchbox with an ice pack will also work,” she said.

Thorndike added that there’s no “magic” universal formula for preparing a healthy lunch. She echoed Pike in saying that the more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains you eat, the better.

But are work cafeterias and food stations good sources to help you make these healthier dietary decisions?

Thorndike said she thinks some workplaces are improving but “most aren’t quite there yet.”

However, some innovative strides have been made.

For instance, she said that her work cafeteria at Mass General Hospital has instituted “traffic light labeling,” which clearly states in red, green, and amber colors how much of different ingredients are in each food item. This makes for easily identifiable healthy options, perfect for employees on the go, she explained.

“People do better when they make the choice for themselves,” Thorndike said. “Work places need to do a better job of guiding people to what are healthier choices and how they can do it quickly and efficiently.”

The bottom line
The AHA and Aramark announced survey results of American adults in the workplace who regularly take time out of their day for lunch.

Out of 907 respondents, more than half said they struggle to prepare a healthy lunch for themselves, with 77 percent indicating they would continue to make healthy choices throughout the day if they made a more nutritious midday meal.

Experts say making continuous unhealthy lunch choices can lead to greater health risks over time — from obesity to high blood pressure.

Nutritionists say, if you can, make your lunch at home and bring it to work. Try to include items from three food groups, adding a variety of colors and nutrients to your plate, from whole grains to vegetables and fruits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: