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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

What’s In My Lunch? Nutrition for a Productive Day

We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but what about lunch? Lunch is just as key because it allows your body to rest and renew and get geared up for the second half of the day. If you are choosing the wrong thing at lunchtime or skipping altogether, this can lead to overeating in the afternoon and evening, poor performance at work, or an unproductive evening workout.ANGIE2

Whenever people find out I’m a dietitian, I get asked a lot of questions about what I eat. My typical response is “I eat normal.” However, I guess everyone has a different version of normal! For me that means following the recommendations in the USDA guidelines at ChooseMyPlate.gov. Half of my plate is filled with fruits and vegetables, a quarter of my plate grains, and a quarter of the plate protein. Then you can sprinkle in a little dairy with that. There is also room for some good, healthy fats and even the occasional dessert!

My rule of thumb is 80/20. 80 percent of my diet is filled with fresh, unprocessed foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and nonfat dairy; and 20 percent includes foods such as cheese, chocolate, and alcohol. On most days I try to make sure I get the 80 percent met first before even thinking about the 20 percent!

What Angie Eats for Lunch

So, what do I eat for lunch? Well, I tend to switch up the main part of my meal each week, but the rest stays pretty constant. I always have a Greek yogurt, some baby carrots, and a Clementine. Every Monday I bring to work four yogurts, four Cuties, and a bag of baby carrots. That way I don’t have to worry about it the rest of the week. Then, I make a homemade chicken salad, tuna salad, or egg salad mixed with nonfat Greek yogurt instead of mayo and put it on whole-wheat bread or whole-wheat crackers. Other weeks I choose an old standby: peanut butter and jelly on whole-wheat bread. Sometimes it is turkey sandwiches or even leftovers from dinner the night before. There are even a few days here and there that I grab a frozen meal because they are quick and convenient.lunch

If I want a sweet ending to my lunch, I typically stop by my co-worker’s office for a few of the M&Ms she keeps on her desk. This is much better than buying the whole package from the vending machine!

One day a week I go out to lunch with some friends, and it can be challenging to choose the healthiest options. However, the main thing I always try to do is to balance my plate! So, if I really want a slice of pizza one day, then I opt for a side salad instead of a breadstick to go with it. Or if it is a sandwich place, I will bring my own sides such as the Clementine and carrots to go with the sandwich instead of the chips. The key is to picture the plate and then fill in the holes!

Need Advice on Healthy Lunches? Ask the Dietitian!

Packing your lunch can sometimes be a pain, but it is definitely worth it in the end! Figure out what works for you so that you can make it part of your weekly routine. If you need assistance planning your meals, please contact me for a personal nutrition consultation at ascheetz@nifs.org or 317-274-3432, ext. 239.

Liten' Up starts Tuesday, September 17 – Tuesday, November 12. Register now for this upcoming class on nutrition and exercise. Find out more here.

Topics: nutrition healthy eating lunch employee health