Healthy Workday Lunch Ideas

By Jennifer Keirstead, Holistic Nutritionist 

Do you make your workday lunch, or buy one?

That little thing called lunch can actually be holding you back from meeting your goals to eat better. We know, it’s not always easy to eat a healthy lunch. Sometimes, you might not have the energy in the morning to pack something for later. Some days, you can’t even leave your desk. So, maybe you just snack on whatever’s lurking about the staff room, or hidden in your desk drawers. Other days, the temptation of quick and easy fast food overcomes you.

First off, a mid-afternoon break is critical to maintaining mental sharpness. When blood sugar starts to plummet, eating nutrient dense foods can help improve mood and mental performance. When we skip meals, we tend to binge to overcompensate at some point in our day.

Help keep blood sugar levels stable by eating a healthy lunch!

Here’s the idea.

Plan Ahead. Taking lunch to work means you have more control over the ingredients in your meal. Always make each dinner with the next day’s lunch in mind! Cook extra grains in the evening, like quinoa or brown rice. Then, combine with veggies, (raw, roasted or steamed), nuts, beans or legumes and make to-go salad bowls. You can also take homemade soups to work with you in a stainless steel thermos. Even prepare a few extra hard-boiled eggs to take as instant, protein-rich salad toppers.

A balanced meal is important any time of day, but is especially key when trying to avoid mid-afternoon blood sugar, burn-out. Make sure your lunch includes plenty of protein and fiber. These components will help to keep you feeling full and going strong throughout your busy day.

Try whipping up a few containers of leftovers on Sunday night. This way you’ll have a couple of lunches prepared for the early part of your work week. Grains and beans keep well in the fridge. Then, all you have to add are lots of greens, nuts or seeds and BAM, you’ve got real fast-food. Thinking ahead saves time and sets you up for success.

A few things to always have on hand at the office:

  • A bottle of homemade salad dressing. Make in a glass jar with lid. Keep in work fridge or dark, cool cupboard.
  • A lemon or lime to squeeze into drinks. Tea is the obvious one here, but it’s also great for water bottles. Citrus also brightens up leftovers. If your soup or pasta has lost a bit of freshness, adding a little lemon can go a long way. Or use to dress a salad. You can simply keep olive oil on hand, then fresh lemon juice is all you need.
  • Your favorite salad bowl and mug. Having a few favorite things from home, tends to make eating healthy at the office more appealing.

Last but not least, don’t be a Desk-Diner. You can bring the most healthful lunch to work but if you’re eating at your desk, it takes the focus away from your food. Instead, you’re sending emails, answering the phone, shuffling paper — the perfect recipe for overeating. So get up. Stretch your legs. Eat outside. Join co-workers in the staff room and eat with others. Engage in your eating.