Lunch. It’s such a simple word, and yet it has so much potential to totally sabotage your healthy eating plan. That’s because at lunch time, it’s easy and oh-so-tempting to grab a quick bite at the local fast food or pizza joint or worse, eat at your desk from the vending machine. Don’t lose your momentum and resolve at mid-day. Here are some ways to make the most of your mid-day meal:
Make Sure Lunch Isn’t Your First Meal Of The Day
People on the National Weight Loss Registry (people who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for more than a year) have a number of good habits in common, one of which is eating breakfast. Almost all of them eat a morning meal. There’s a reason that works. Skip the meal that comes eight hours or more after dinner and you are going to be ravenously hungry by mid-morning and make really bad food choices at lunchtime.
Break Up Your Lunch Hour
Dedicate only half of your break to eating lunch. Spend the other 30 minutes and take a brisk walk. A British study found that women who ate a meal and then exercised afterward burned 22 percent more fat than those who worked out before eating (for men, fat burning was more effective if they exercised before they ate). A similar study published in the Journal of Endocrinology gave more props to post-meal exercise meaning people who pedaled an exercise bike after eating produced more of the hormones that shut off hunger.
Lead Yourself Not Into Temptation
Know your trigger foods. If you can’t say no to pizza, cheesesteak, mile-high deli sandwiches or chocolate chip cookies bigger than your head, avoid the restaurants that sell them. Don’t beat yourself up for not being able to resist. A study by researchers at Vanderbilt University found that so-called “rewarding foods” (the ones that call our names) literally hijack our brains and make us unable to control ourselves. Of course, most of those foods are high in fat and sugar. So if you have a choice, stay away from lunch locales that serve them.
Have A Little Fat With Your Meal
University of California at Irvine researchers found that having a little “good” fat (in this case, oleic acid) during a meal helps send a message to the brain that you are no longer hungry. So, if you are having that big, low-calorie salad, consider a little olive-oil-based dressing, some slices of avocado or a small sprinkling of nuts.
Cut Up Your Food
Find portion control tough? Cut your food into small pieces before you eat. An Arizona State University study found that students who were given a bagel cut into small pieces ate less of the calorie-dense food and even ate less of their lunch afterwards. They were far more satisfied than the study participants who were given a whole bagel.
Don’t leave food choices to whim or chance. Plan out your lunches once a week, whether you are making your own or eating out. Chain restaurants usually have their menus online, complete with calorie and nutrition information. Even convenience stores have “grab-and-go” choices that include fruits, vegetables, and protein.
I hope these healthy eating tips help you to make better choices when it comes to eating lunch and until next week, be happy, healthy, and beautiful!