Packing a Healthy Lunch for Nutrition and Weight Management

healthy lunch for dietersRegardless of whether you’re trying to lose weight or stop it from coming back, you need to make sure that you’re eating healthy meals on a regular basis in order to achieve your goals. This is the same for yourself as well as your children. Though it may seem easy to simply reach for the packaged lunch options that they sell in the supermarkets, these options really aren’t doing anything for the nutrition and health of either you or your family. Eating a healthy lunch is vital to your success.

To make sure that you and your children have the fuel that you need to power through your long days, and the workouts that follow, without packing on the pounds or leading to discomforts like constipation, it is a good idea to look to the USDA MyPlate as a guide (to make sure that all of the food groups are covered) and then select options made of whole foods. This way, you’ll know that lunchtimes are always nutritious.

Whether you’re packing your own healthy lunch or your child’s, use the following tips to keep taste buds happy and weight where it should be:

• Select whole grain bread instead of white. As people become more aware of the importance of healthy eating, there has been an explosion of options in the bread aisles. This gives you the chance to try a large range of whole grain options so that you can select one that you like, or always keep things different. If your child is already used to white bread, try a “hybrid” product that combines some whole grains mixed with refined flour until he or she is ready to make the switch away from refined flower.

• Always add fruits and veggies. Fruits are especially popular with kids, though veggies are still important. Adding a dipping sauce for carrots, cherry tomatoes, or celery (such as peanut butter or low fat ranch dressing, for example) can make vegetables fun and tasty. If you’re out of fresh fruit and you must used canned, just make sure that it’s packed in juice instead of syrup.

• Don’t forget protein. While carbs will provide fast energy, it’s the protein that will be needed to last throughout the rest of the day. Cheese cubes, almond butter, hummus, trail mix, and anything made with beans can provide a fast and affordable protein boost that will keep you or your child going.

Don’t forget that what you don’t put into your healthy lunch is just as important as what you do. Avoid soda and sweetened drinks. They’ll do far more harm than good and will easily derail dieting efforts (this includes both full sugar and artificially sweetened diet drinks). Water, milk, or 100 percent fruit juices (in small amounts) are your best options.

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