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Diet Before Christmas: Quick & Healthy Lunch Hacks
Posted on Nov 18, 2013 by Bridget Greenlee (G+)
Get into healthy habits today to keep the holiday pounds off.
Most people plan on slipping up once or twice with their diets during the holidays. But often healthy eating can get way off course, and before you know it, two months of the year have gone by and the number on the scale has gone way up. Of course, everyone deserves a treat here and there, but for many people it’s very important to stay on track and stay healthy all year round. No one wants to gain weight with all those holiday parties and dressy clothes to fit into. Establishing good habits prior to this tempting time of year will make it easier to stay on track and make the occasional treat a less guilty activity. Packing a lunch to take to work is a great way to save money and calories by planning healthy meals ahead and not being susceptible to last minute temptations.
Switching Up Sandwiches
Lunches have come a long way from a boring bologna sandwich on white bread. A little planning and creativity can make a healthy lunch, and even the standard sandwich, something to look forward to.
People like sandwiches because they are easy to make and are a relatively well-rounded meal, often also including protein, dairy and vegetables. However, plain bread can get boring and doesn’t necessarily contain much nutrition. Try varying what the sandwich is made on. Pitas, different types of vegetable tortillas made into wraps, English muffins and bagels can all make sandwiches more interesting and add nutrition. Always try to use 100 percent whole wheat or whole grain products for the added nutrition. If the label doesn’t contain either of those phrases, it will not contain the health benefits of whole wheat. Labels that say things like “made with whole grains” can be misleading.
A New Spread
Toppings like mayonnaise and butter can add lots of calories to a sandwich. Why not try a healthier option, like hummus, avocado spread, jam, salsa or light cream cheese? These options will give lunch a new flavor and cut the calories compared to some other common sandwich garnishes. Eliminating traditionally less healthy items forces one to be creative and change up the lunch routine.
Load It Up
With the bread and spread are covered, let’s finish the sandwich off. Most people would head to the lunchmeat section but they certainly don’t have to. Chicken salad, egg salad, tuna, shredded chicken, turkey bacon and more can replace the usual slices of deli turkey. Sandwiches or wraps are also the perfect place to pile on the vegetables. People should get three to five servings of vegetables a day and it is easy to fall short. Adding healthy items like tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and carrots to the mix will boost the flavor and add tons of nutrition to fill you up on healthy, low calorie food. Low-fat cheese will also boost the flavor and is very versatile. Take the opportunity to try out some of the many unique and flavorful cheeses out there.
New Lunch Ideas
Sandwiches can come in all shapes and flavors but the options don’t end there. Salads chock full of meats, vegetables, healthy cheeses, nuts, herb, and low-fat dressings are endlessly full of mix and match options. Though the prep time might be a bit longer than a sandwich, salads are worth the effort. Choose a day to chop and prepare ingredients and salads will be a breeze all week. Vegetable soups, whole-wheat pastas and vegetable and meat stir-fries are other sandwich and salad alternatives. And don’t forget that making an extra serving of a healthy dinner the night before is an easily packed, almost no-prep lunch. Healthy sides, like fruit, yogurt, nuts, cottage cheese and hard-boiled egg, complete the meal and keep you full until dinner.
For the One on the Run
Not every busy person has time to make a lunch every day, despite having the best of intentions. But never fear, there are many products and foods to make lunches easier, while still being healthy. Frozen lunches, such as those made by Kashi, can offer a nice, hot meal while maintaining portion control and keeping calories in check. Make sure to check the ingredients to be sure that, even though the calories are low, ingredients like sodium are not through the roof. Low-calorie soup and chili, pre-made tuna or chicken salad and other frozen meals make for even faster hot meals on the go.
Lunchboxes: Not Just for Kids
A lunchbox is a good way to stop throwing away paper or plastic bags every day, and boxes can add some fashion and function to the lunch hour. Bento boxes, Japanese style lunchboxes with separate sections for different foods, are a fun and easy way to pack lunches and get a variety of food groups in your lunch. There are many different styles of bento boxes online, for adult lunches and to make lunch fun for kids too. Any lunchbox you like and get used to using will help to develop the healthy habits of planning, preparing and packing lunch on a daily basis.
The Importance of Keeping it Healthy!
There are lots of reasons to get yourself into a healthy lunch habit. Maybe treating yourself to a new lunchbox once a year does the trick. Maybe the amount of money you save over the weeks by packing your own lunch is the push. Establishing healthy habits and preparing the body to make the right choices and keep off holiday pounds is certainly motivation for many people. Whatever it is, find out what works for you and start changing bad habits into good ones today!
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