In honor of the American Diabetes Association’s Healthy Lunch Day, we’re digging deep into what makes a healthy lunch and providing you with the information you need to know to make your best lunch yet, plus some of our favorite recipes. If you’re on social media, be sure to follow the American Diabetes Association on Facebook and Twitter and tag your healthy, kefir-filled lunches with the hashtag #MyHealthyLunch.
How to Build a Healthy Lunch
There is no one-size-fits-all answer as to what an appropriate mid-day meal is, but every meal should share some of the same components. It should include fresh, seasonal ingredients (as non-processed as possible), and should be eaten in a relaxing environment (meaning take the “break” in “lunch break”).
Step one in creating the ultimate healthy lunch is to choose fresh, healthy ingredients (that you like). Going further, having a variety of ingredients of different textures and flavor profiles takes lunch from boring to beautiful. When packing your lunch box (bringing food from home is almost always better for your belt buckle and your wallet), make sure to include good sources of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and lean proteins.
To get the most vegetable bang for your buck, pack a salad. Eating a salad for lunch is a great way to make sure you’re not to heavy on the fat and carbohydrate side, as a base of leafy greens provides fiber, vitamins and minerals. It also acts as a blank canvas, allowing you to add toppings to suit your needs and taste.
In the fall, we love this Cranberry Kale Salad with Quinoa and Farmer Cheese. We also love making homemade dressings with our kefir, as it makes a great, high-protein, low-fat substitute for cream-based salad dressings. This ranch dressing and this wasabi honey dressing are two of our favorites. We also love deconstructed lunches, consisting of slices of fresh fruit, vegetables and lean protein with a kefir-ized dip, like this pumpkin hummus or this white bean spread.
Finally, nothing is easier than leftovers! Doubling up on dinner or bringing home your restaurant leftovers is a great way to reduce waste and takes all of the planning out of lunch, especially if you have rushed mornings. This Vegetable Bake is an easy choice, as is this grain-free, gluten-free flatbread.
Creating a healthy lunch routine isn’t just about how much and what you eat, but how and where you eat as well.
Move Away from the Computer
While you may think you’re multitasking and working hard, studies show that eating in front of your computer isn’t just bad for your diet, it’s bad for your productivity, too. According to a Washington Post article, taking a break from the computer boosts creativity and productivity, and helps reduce stress.
Focus on Your Food
You’ve just removed the distraction of your computer, and while enjoying a good book or magazine on your lunch break may seem like a good idea, focusing just on your food and the action of eating for a few minutes is a better choice. You’re much less likely to eat mindlessly and therefore, much less likely to over eat.
Finally, the best way to make sure you eat a healthy, nourishing lunch is to be prepared. If a tight deadline or an offsite meeting interfere with your plans, having healthy snacks, such as bananas, apples, mixed nuts and seeds or kefir handy in the work fridge will allow you to grab a snack that will balance your blood sugar and keep you from heading to the drive-thru.
You can’t control all of the conditions of your lunch routine, but the more prepared you are, the better off you’ll be!