Six Tips for Packing a Healthy and Delicious Lunch.
Lunch is one of the three important meals of the day. It is the meal that gives you energy for the second half of your day. Many people find that it’s difficult to pack a healthy and delicious lunch for school, work, or a day out. A packed lunch can be hard to plan so they are both balanced and delicious. However, there are some simple steps you can follow to ensure lunch is both tasty and nutritious. Here are six great tips for packing lunch for everyone!
1. Start With A Protein.
Protein is an important component of every cell in your body. They are key building blocks that need to be obtained through what you eat. Your body requires a proper balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Proteins are also great because they digest slower. This means they keep you feeling full for longer periods of time. Lunch needs to keep you full and give you energy for the rest of the day. Great examples of healthy proteins include nuts, seeds, dairy products, and meats. It is recommended that proteins account for 30-35% of daily nutrient intake.
2. Include Whole Grains and Fiber
Fiber is another important component to keep you feeling full longer. Foods that are high in fiber tend to be more filling which helps you eat less and stay sated longer. Fiber has a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, and helps maintain bowel health. Whole grain foods are a great source of fiber. Foods made with whole grains also have a higher nutritive value giving your body more of what it needs. Include things such as whole grain bread, brown rice, or quinoa in your lunch.
3. Have Two to Three Servings of Fruits and Vegetables at Each Meal
Daily recommendations for fruits and vegetables vary based on age. If you include 2-3 servings of fruits or vegetables with lunch this helps meet the recommended daily intake easily. Children between ages 4-8 should have 5 servings a day. Children between ages 9 and 13 should have 6 servings per day. Teens 14 to 18 should have 7 to 8 servings per day. Adults should have 7 to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Servings generally should focus more heavily on vegetables. Make your servings of fruits and vegetables varied and colourful. Be sure to include one green vegetable such as broccoli, lettuce, kale or spinach each day. You can never eat too many vegetables!
4. Healthy Fats.
Not all fats are created equal and not all fat is bad. Fat is an essential support to many body processes. There are two main types of fats: saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are those fats which increase cholesterol levels in the body and increases the risk of heart disease. Unsaturated fats such as those that come from fish and avocado decrease your risk of heart disease. Healthy fats should account for a maximum of 20 % of your daily nutrient intake. Include fish, walnuts or other nuts, sunflower seeds or avocados in your lunch to meet your healthy fat intake.
5. Eat A Variety of Foods.
All foods have different nutrients. The best way to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients your body needs is to eat a wide variety of foods. Make sure to cover all food groups. It’s very easy to get into a habit of packing the same foods over and over in your lunch. Encourage trying something new each week. You might be surprised and learn you like something new. Our taste buds evolve throughout our life and something you disliked at one point, you may now enjoy.
Packing a bottle of water with lunch is important. When you are thirsty these signals can be misinterpreted as hunger. Drinking a glass of water before a meal can help with the feeling of fullness. If you just ate and are still feeling hungry reach for water first. The average person 14 years and older needs 2 to 3 L of water per day. Children between ages 4 and 13 should drink 1.5 to 1.7 L per day. Avoid surgery drinks at lunch, as they will give you a quick sugar spike and then leave you feeling drained in the middle of the afternoon.
Packing a balanced and nutritious lunch can be challenging but there are many great resources for healthy lunch ideas available. Try something new, you might just discover a new favourite!