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Degree column: Pack a better lunch

Last time we to talked about the many ways that screen time can have an impact on your weight. Todayís topic is planning smart lunches. Ever hear or use any of these excuses? I ran out of the house this morning and didnít have time to pack my lunch; I had to get the kids off to school; Iíll just get something from the vending machine; I had an early meeting; or I didnít have anything to pack for my lunch anyway because there was no food in the house.
So you think to yourself, ěI will just skip lunch since I am trying to lose weight.î Remember skipping meals is a no-no. Skipping meals is not a good weight loss/weight maintenance strategy. Skipping meals can lead to binge eating and weight gain. This is because you are more likely to overeat and choose high-calorie foods when you are extremely hungry. Keep reading for these easy tips to planning smart lunches.
Think of your lunch bag as your survival kit for weight loss/weight maintenance. If your lunch bag contains healthy choices available throughout the day, you will not be tempted by the vending machine, convenience store, fast food or high-calorie foods in the break room.
Packing a healthy lunch does not have to be hard. Include the following: protein food, plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
Choose something from each group:
Option 1 ó Turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomato, an apple, carrots and celery sticks.
Option 2 ó Large salad with lettuce, tomato, carrots, bell pepper, turkey and low-fat dressing, banana and whole-wheat crackers.
Option 3 ó Low-fat cottage cheese, canned peaches without added sugar, baby carrots with low-fat Ranch dressing and whole-wheat crackers.
Option 4 ó A low-calorie frozen meal. Arrays of healthy meals are offered from Weight Watchers, Smart Ones, Healthy Choice and Lean Cuisine.
Be sandwich savvy.
Add lots of vegetables for flavor and variety without adding many calories.
Hold the mayo; go for mustard or other low-fat condiments instead.
Store-bought egg salad, tuna salad or chicken salad can be loaded with calories. Make your own with fat-free or low-fat mayonnaise and lots of chopped celery. Try making egg salad with half of the yolks removed, you will not know the difference and will save lots of calories.
Go green; use lettuce leaves instead of bread for a change of pace.
Pack plenty of fruits and vegetables ó fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables, salad with low-fat dressing, small amounts of dried fruit.
Keep a healthy snack bag on hand.
Sometimes you need a little something in the afternoon or evening when you have to work late. Itís great to have an emergency snack bag in your desk healthy options.
Try:
Dry unsweetened cereal
Rice cakes
Raisins or other dried fruit
Low-fat cereal or granola bars
Baked chips
Make the time to create your lunch/snack bag. Get your lunch ready the night before, and pack more than one lunch at a time.
No matter how careful you are about planning and taking your lunch and snack bag, you sometimes need a quick snack from a vending machine or convenience store. For those times, you need to choose the lowest-calorie option available. Here are some choices; remember to check the label when possible and watch your portion sizes.
Fig Bars
Animal crackers
Small portions of nuts
Low-fat cookies
Low-fat crackers
Make your lunch break a mindful lunch break.
Take a few minutes to relax and enjoy your food.
Donít eat while you work or run errands. Taking time for lunch can help rejuvenate your mind so that you will be more productive.
Lunch can also be a time to get a few minutes of physical activity. Take a walk or just stretch in your office.
Get back to enjoying lunch again. Pack healthy lunches that will revive you will keeping you on the right track. Have a good week. Next week will be the final week of Eat Smart, Move More; Weigh Less articles and we will end with renewing your commitment to eat healthy and moving more. I hope that you have learned a great deal and will continue on the journey. I would love to hear from those of you that have followed me for the entire fifteen weeks. Feel free to e-mail me or drop a note in the mail.
Contact Toi N. Degree at 704-216-8970 or by e-mail at toi_degree@ncsu.edu.

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