When you think of “healthy eating,” it can be easy to begin feeling overwhelmed. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Let’s break down the components of a healthy lunch.
Well, actually, we’re going to break down the basic components of a healthy meal. Regardless of which meal you’re eating, these basics don’t change.
You want to aim for a good blend of nutrients, ensuring your body has the energy and fuel it needs to make it to your next meal. Finding the right balance in your lunch can also help ensure that you stay as productive as possible for the rest of your workday.
But what exactly does that entail? Ravinder Machra, MD, with West Tennessee Medical Group, offers some perspective.
Q: Why is eating a healthy lunch so important?
A: Lunch is the main meal of the day in many places around the world. That’s because it lies right in the middle of the day—and what you eat at that meal plays a key role in how well you feel and perform for the rest of the day.
Healthy eating at lunch is important because this meal can help renew your energy and your focus for the afternoon. A healthy lunch can also ensure your blood sugar levels stay even and your metabolism stays active.
Q: What are the basics of healthy eating at lunch?
A: At any meal, you want to aim for a combination of nutrients—each ideally should have some carbohydrates, lean protein, and a small amount of healthy fat.
This combination helps keep your body satiated and fueled to power through your work or other activities. Why?
Carbs provide your body with energy, protein is used to build and repair tissues, and dietary fats help give your body energy and support cell growth. Put these components together, and you have the essentials of healthy eating.
What kinds of foods should you be choosing? These are the basics:
- Aim for whole foods whenever possible.
- Try to steer clear of the processed variety.
- Look for lean protein sources, such as chicken, fish, or tofu.
- Choose whole grains, vegetables, or fruit to get in your carbs.
- Choose fruits and vegetables of multiple colors for a full range of nutrients.
- Select healthy fats like those found in olive oil or nuts.
Q: But will food still taste good if it’s healthy?
A: Yes! Your food can be just as flavorful when you make healthy choices. It’s all about finding creative and fun recipes that your tastebuds will enjoy.
We’ve described the basic components of a healthy meal above, but the choices are up to you! You have freedom within each category to choose foods that appeal to your taste—choose the protein source that you like best and pair it with carbs you enjoy.
That will look different for everyone, and there’s no single right way to put together a meal.
One person may enjoy a small meal of fresh veggies with hummus, while another person may put together a full salad topped with chicken, a small amount of dressing, and a whole grain roll on the side.
And you don’t even have to put together a new meal, either! If you cooked up breakfast you love and it hits all the nutritional targets, bring along an extra serving for lunch. Likewise, if last night’s dinner sounds appealing, it’s totally fine to serve it up again for lunch.
Q: Are there any other ways to spice up healthy eating?
A: You can literally spice it up by adding spices, herbs, and other calorie-free flavorings to your food. But you can also simply think of innovative and interesting ways to serve up your lunch.
You may have created parenting masterpieces like roll-ups or kabobs for your child’s lunchbox. Well, there’s nothing stopping you from packing the same in your lunch!
Add in color, shapes, and textures for a fun blend of lunch items that will keep your attention and make your food aesthetically pleasing and pleasing to your taste buds.
Practicing healthy eating habits but aren’t seeing the health or weight-loss results you desire? Check with your doctor to see if there’s an underlying health issue. Find a doctor here.