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[This is another in our series on the How and Why of Eating Healthy.]
There’s so much good to be said for how much you can change your health by making your own lunch. We know from research that skipping breakfast or lunch (or both) makes it harder to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
One of the first questions that I ask my patients is what they have for lunch. It’s clear that not many people take their lunch to work and that’s key to making sure you get the highest quality calories. When you are getting started eating better it's important that you make lunch and take it to work with you. The easiest thing for most folks is to make a sandwich. Here are some guidelines for items that you should pick up at the grocery and keep on hand for making a quick and easy lunch.
Whole Sandwich (2 lunch servings)
2 slices whole wheat bread with 2 ounces lean meat or reduced-fat cheese.
Half Sandwich (1 lunch serving)
1 slice whole wheat bread with 1 ounce lean meat or reduced-fat cheese.
Reduced-fat Monterey Jack
Lean Ham slices
Lean Turkey slices
2 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
Toppings (use as much as you like):
Any kind of sprout
Spreads (choose one)
Hellman’s Extra Light Mayonnaise: 1 Tbsp.
Any Coarse Ground Mustard: 1 Tbsp.
Dijon Style Mustard: 1 Tbsp.
Your Favorite Chutney: 1 Tbsp.
Roasted Garlic: 2 cloves
Tapenade: 1 Tbsp.
A lot of patients ask me about having a salad at lunch. They would like to have one with their sandwich or with a half serving of soup. This is a great idea since greens and most veggies don’t add up to many calories and are chock full of fiber, vitamins and antioxidants.
There are some recipes for salad dressings included in the Sides & Extras recipes section for just this purpose. These generally have about 50 calories in a serving and this is the most that you would want your dressing to have. Remember that if the greens are very dry you will need less dressing because it clings to the salad better.
Dinner leftovers make the perfect lunch. It's a great idea to make extra at night so you have something to take for lunch. The rule of thumb is that a lunch serving is half of a leftover dinner serving.
Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!
Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.
June 8, 2009
Last updated: 06/08/09