Do you struggle to find afternoon snacks that are satisfying? Does your energy drop mid-afternoon? Are you ravenously hungry by dinnertime and consequently overeat or make poor choices?
Late afternoon and dinnertime are common trouble-zones when you may find yourself making poor food choices or overeating. How can you fix these unhealthy patterns? Redirect your attention away from your snack and dinner challenges and reconsider lunch.
Lunch is often overlooked. It gets skipped or is eaten in a rush and distractedly at your desk. Or, perhaps you overeat at lunch, sending your blood glucose on a roller coaster ride leaving you craving something and tired in the afternoon. Or, in efforts of controlling calories you don’t eat enough at lunch. In all of these scenarios, the downstream effect is poor food choices in the late afternoon and at dinner.
Pack your lunch to get control
Some days it may be as simple as packing a sandwich. Save even more time and pack leftovers. Experiment with new foods to make lunch exciting. Whatever you bring, think ahead and make a plan. This will save you time and money and encourage balanced and satisfying meals.
Sandwiches and wraps are definite options, as long you choose quality ingredients. My KVOA segment tomorrow at 4:30 pm will talk about quality sandwich ingredients, so stay tuned.
Since there are really no suitable 100% whole grain gluten-free breads or wraps, my lunch ideas skip the standard sandwich lunch suggestions. For those who do eat gluten, a sandwich or wrap can be convenient and filling, but we all need variety and whole grains and beans are more healthful sources of carbohydrate.
Think outside of your lunchbox and try one of these tasty-lunch ideas
- Quinoa salad with dried organic apricots and sunflower seeds, seasoned with olive oil, pepper and cumin. Use leftover cooked quinoa and either leftover-diced cooked chicken or canned wild salmon. Layer everything on organic spinach and enjoy as a cold or hot salad (just steam the mix in microwave).
- Sweet potato stuffed with cottage cheese and steamed broccoli.
- Wild salmon mixed with canola oil mayo, mustard, diced celery and onion on top of organic salad greens or stuffed into organic celery or zucchini “boats” with an organic sliced pear or apple. Or try Curry Apple Salmon Salad on mixed greens.
- Bean and corn salad with black beans, corn, organic edamame, diced avocado, organic tomatoes and organic bell pepper, seasoned with canola oil, lime juice and oregano. Served with tortilla chips.
- “Everything” salad with a variety of tasty ingredients from the fridge and pantry.
- Start with a big glass Pyrex storage container. Layer organic greens in the bottom of the container.
- Top with veggies. Use veggies that you chopped on the weekend, or leftover steamed, sauteed or roasted vegetables.
- Then add fruit. Use dried unsweetened raisins, cherries, blueberries, or dried apricots. Or use fresh or frozen fruit.
- Next is some type of high fiber carbohydrate. Any variety of bean or lentil will do. Canned is fine, and Eden brand with a BPA free liner is best. Leftover cooked rice, quinoa, and winter squash are also delicious toppings.
- For protein, emphasize plant proteins so that you can use less animal protein. Use leftover chicken or fish. Marinate tofu cubes and sprinkle on edamame. Canned salmon and cottage cheese are both handy.
- Drizzle with a tasty canola oil or olive oil based dressing. Skip the fat free stuff; get one that tastes good and use sparingly.
These meals have a basic structure in common.
- Protein from plant-foods and lean animal-foods, such as beans, lentils, grains, vegetables, fish and poultry
- Fiber and carbohydrate from intact grains, legumes, fruit and veggies
- Flavor from veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, spices and herbs
- Fat from healthy oils, nuts, seeds and fish.
Use this as a framework for your lunches to ensure satisfaction and balance so that you curb afternoon snacks and stay on track at dinner.
Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for personalized nutrition or health advice or healthcare. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read or accessed through this website.