What's for Lunch? A Nutritionist Shares Her Tips

  • Written By:Lauren Slayton
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The truth is that lunch is an important meal, maybe the most important meal.

While Foodtrainers’ offices are closed, I’ve had remote nutrition sessions, the past 10 (OMG!) weeks. Regardless of the age, location or gender of clients, certain quarantine eating patterns have emerged. If there’s one meal or time of day that’s been tricky, it’s lunch. Some clients feel their timing is off. If they’re having a later breakfast and early dinner, should you even have lunch? Or, there’s so much friggin’ food prep, the last thing most of us feel like doing is “cooking” again.

The truth is that lunch is an important meal, maybe the most important meal. A well-rounded lunch can fuel you through the afternoon, prevent that crash or snack attack and set you up for a normal-portioned dinner. A little forethought will go a long way. Here are a few tips for making lunchtime easier.

Should I have a snack instead of lunch?

Although it’s tempting, particularly if you’re WFH, to have a protein bar or snack in lieu of lunch, I advise against that. When you have a snack, when your body is looking for a meal, you’re going to end up making up for it later. You’re not likely to “make up” for it with a salad. Instead, when you under fuel during the day, you’ll make up for it, with interest, at night. And that that never feels good. Set a regular lunchtime. This way, you know you’ll be taking a break, you even set a reminder or alarm on your phone.

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I have limited time and limited food, what can I make?

A popular lunch with Foodtrainers’ clients is what we call TAKY (turkey, avocado & kale) rollups. A balanced lunch has three components: you want some protein (turkey, chicken, egg, fish), vegetables (greens or leftover vegetables), and a healthy fat. The rollup is easy. Place two 2-ounce portions of turkey on a plate, top with any greens, slice avocado on top of the greens, and roll it up. You can add condiments or swap out kale for gut-healthy kraut. Roll it up and in under 5 minutes you can have a healthy, sustaining meal.

I miss the lunch I had in my former life...

If you took for granted the beautiful salads you used to have access to, I did too. Now, nobody wants to spend an hour trying to replicate a Sweetgreen salad — but a salad is a good idea. A recent book The XX Brain (which is all about cognitive health and Alzheimer’s prevention for women) even states, “eating a salad a day can keep your brain younger by as much as 11 years.”

A simple salad in my rotation is jarred tuna and avocado over greens. Dressing can be either olive oil and fresh lemon or lime, or olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Jarred tuna, if you have access to it, is a great pantry item. Either buy pre-washed greens or wash or prep veggies in advance so at your set lunchtime (hint, hint) you have your meal ready 1, 2, 3.

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A well-rounded lunch can fuel you through the afternoon, prevent that crash or snack attack and set you up for a normal-portioned dinner.

Help! I have decision fatigue!

If you’re in charge of multiple family member’s meals, it can be exhausting. It’s tempting to either eat what other family members are eating or just do what’s easy. But if you’re a female, in your 40s, you don’t really want to eat like a toddler, teen, or male! Make your own menu. Pick one to two items and stick with those, for a week, to gain momentum. Remember you want to have protein, fiber (fruit or vegetable), and a healthy fat.

This time is stressful, exhausting and it’s easy to give in, here and there. But we will emerge from this, let’s emerge feeling confident and healthy.

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