Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Just like school days - bring your lunch!

Think you are choosing healthy items when you go to lunch everyday with your co-workers?  Odds are...you aren't.

Hard news to swallow but as I've said before many times - its exceedingly difficult to eat healthy at restaurants.  Sure you can choose better alternatives but this doesn't make what you are ordering healthy nor will it help you reach your goals.

Most restaurants cook with butter, margarine, more oil than is a healthy serving and lots and lots of sodium.  Can you order things 'dry' and 'grilled'?  Sure - but what is put on the grill or flat top before putting your food down?  What is your food soaked in as a preservative or marinade?  Not something you want on your food I can assure you of that.

The typical lunch at an American 'Bistro' style restaurant (think salads, sandwiches, etc) is 800 calories and 30g of fat - about half of the calories you need for the entire day and ALL of the fat for the typical woman trying to eat healthy.  Keep in mind you need to eat every 3 hours so 5-6 meals per day to keep your metabolism fired up and blood sugar stable....so eating one meal at 800 calories and thinking 'I can just eat one more meal of the same amount and be fine' - will not work if you are working towards a goal.

Your body can only process a limited amount of calories, fats, proteins and carbohydrates at a time so when you overload it with excessive nutrients like an 800 calorie lunch and 30g of fat - it won't be able to process this all correctly and may store some as fat.

Not to mention - the average lunch is anywhere from $10-$20 ...per day!  If you eat out each day, you are spending $200-$400 a month - just on lunches!  And your waistline probably isn't seeing any benefit either.

Take for example the 'quick' salad restaurants where they pre-mix your salad - you think you are making a great decision by ordering a salad right?  Not when the average salad is 35g of fat and at least 600 calories.  Keep in mind you NEED carbohydrates with your lunch and most of your meals during the day to give you energy (get past that 3pm slump!), fiber to keep you full and low fat nutrients that will help you stave off hunger that are lower in caloric density.  Cutting carbs will only make you lose temporarily and won't result in that lean, fit body most people desire.  Carbs are essential!

So what can you do?  The BEST thing you can do is pack your lunch - at least try 4 days a week and go to lunch as a treat on Fridays with co-workers.  Pack a healthy lunch and 2 snacks for your work day that consist of a complex carbohydrate, a serving of healthy fat and lean protein.  Take your lunch outside to a park or on errands so you can get out of the office without sacrificing your pocketbook and waistline.  Some good home packed options all between 250-300 calories, 7-8g of healthy fat and 20-25g protein:

Tuna Nicoise Salad:
2 cup spinach
3 oz very low sodium tuna
3 oz red potatoes
asparagus, tomato
1 tsp olive oil/vinegar

Turkey Pasta:
1/2 cup whole grain pasta
1/2 cup Ragu Light No Sugar Added Pasta Sauce
4 ounces extra lean gorund turkey
1 tsp olive oil in the pasta
1/2 cup zucchini and red pepper (in the pasta or on the side)

Teryaki Rice Bowl:
1/2 cup brown rice cooked in water (can even buy pre cooked without added sodium/fats!)
4 ounces chicken breast
1 cup bell peppers and onions (can buy frozen and steam 2 mins)
1 TBS sugar free Teryaki sauce
1 tsp all natural almond or peanut butter (heat up with the teriyaki and stir in for a yummy Thai taste)

Going out to lunch?  Make healthy choices at restaurants first and foremost:

Tokyo Joes:
'Build your Own Rice Bowl- Regular Size'
White Meat Chicken, brown rice, mushrooms, zucchini and red pepper
425 calories, 5.3g fat, 50g carbs, 30g protein, 232g of sodium (BEWARE of sauces - laden with sodium!)

Mad Greens:
'Create Your Own Salad - Regular Size'
Citrus Grilled Chicken, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, garbanzo beans, edamame with spice yogurt dressing done 'Light'
366 calories, 11g of fat, 30g carbs, 40g protein, 453mg sodium

'Burrito Bowl'
Brown Rice, Steak, green tomatillo salsa, shredded lettuce
325 calories, 8.5g fat, 28g carbs, 33g protein, 700mg sodium (on the high side)

A good tip: Log on to websites prior to going to lunch to make the best possible selection - otherwise you could be making a B-I-G mistake that will affect your progress and dedication to health as well as leave you feeling lethargic and the late afternoon 'slump' from high calories, fats and excess of sodium and carbohydrates.  Take your typical sub sandwich shop where a turkey sandwich alone is 550 calories, 22g of fat, 1,094mg of sodium and 38g of cholesterol!  NO thank you!

Be an informed consumer.  Make the commitment to bringing your lunch at least 4 days in the workweek (and ALWAYS bring your snacks)

Be good to your body - it will thank you!

In Health,

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