Breakfast has always been thought of as the most important meal of the day and dinner is the main meal that we generally don’t skip out on, but what about lunch? The midday meal is the one most often skipped, according to the NPD Group, a consumer marketing information firm that’s tracked Americans’ eating patterns for the past two decades. On any given day, nearly 20% of Americans skip lunch. Lunch is being squeezed out of our lives because we are trying to pack 12 hours of work into an eight or nine hour work day. Do you even know anyone who actually has a lunch break that uses it to eat lunch?
There is a price for skipping out on the midday meal. I know when I miss my lunch, I’ll snack nonstop or gorge myself at dinner. (Making up for the calories that I would have eaten…and then some!) Studies also show that for most of us, dividing our total calories into five eating occasions–breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks—is helpful when trying to lose and maintain a healthy weight. It’s recommended because it helps keep blood sugar levels from going on a rollercoaster ride, making hunger spike and cravings set in.
What you choose at lunch helps to nourish your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs, keep energy levels high during the day, calm the 3:00 carb cravings. A healthy lunch can even help you drop pounds by keeping calories in check throughout the day.
Whether you brown-bag it, go to the nearest fast food outlet, order from a salad bar or have a biz lunch at the best restaurant in town, we’ve got the R.D.’s Rx for making the most of your midday meal.
Lunch 911: I’ll Get-It-While-I-Can Grazer
People who graze all day tend and generally on carb-rich foods never really feel hungry or full. They skip out on lunch because they figure that they’ll just snack instead. Eating like this leads to overweight and disrupts the body’s natural ability to distinguish hunger and fullness.
R.D. Lunch Rx
Eat three meals a day and two snacks.
Lunch should contain a serving of whole grain, a lean protein or dairy serving and a serving of
fruit and/or veggies.
Strive for fiber-rich options because they’ll fill you up on the fewest calories.
You know you’re supposed to eat fruits and vegetables, so salads for lunch are one of the ways many of us get veggies into our diets. However, many people find that their salads are actually making them fatter, here’s why:
It’s hard to criticize salads when they’re made with plenty of vegetables and lean protein but most people pile on too many high-fat add-ons such as cheese, croutons, high-fat meats or full-fat dressing can make salads as high in calories as pizza, tacos or burgers.
For example, a large, restaurant Caesar, Chef’s, Greek or Antipasto salad can top 700 calories and pack in over 35 grams of fat (more than half of what you should have in a day), making them more similar to a Quarter Pounder with Cheese. Even some of the new salads from fast food restaurants are not low in calories or fat and many have as many calories as burgers and fries.
1/4 of your salad can come from the high-fat sides like croutons, cheese and creamy tuna or egg salad
Use olive oil and vinegar as a dressing. The vinegar will blunt blood sugar response
and you can control the amount of oil better. Limit to no more than 1 Tbsp.