Before I discovered the power of eating real foods, I used to think feeling like a train hit me right around 2 pm was an inevitable part of each day. By 3 pm I’d be slumping in my chair, eyes drooping, and spirits sagging. I’d count the minutes until dinner, irritably race home, and eat as much as possible. I might even preface dinner with a *few* handfuls of tortilla chips. Then I’d feel sluggish again after a huge dinner and sit on the couch the rest of the night. Sound familiar?
Since changing the way I eat several years ago, I have not had this happen even once. I have energy all day long, feel healthier, and easily maintain my weight.
You may know you need to make a change to your eating habits but feel thwarted – you aren’t sure how to do it or don’t have time to prepare food ahead. When I find people in the lunchroom heating up frozen dinners, they usually say lack of time is the reason for not bringing food from home. If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of having to prepare healthy lunches or squeeze in breakfast before work, you may be surprised by how easy it is to eat a real-foods diet.
Lunch is a manageable place to start when you’ve decided to eat healthier. I started out with lunches and slowly added in snacks, then breakfasts, and eventually dinners. In the beginning I still ate foods like garden burgers and soups, but now I avoid anything with high sodium or a long ingredient list. But even cutting out packaged, junky foods gradually made a huge difference in my health and chronic stomach distress.
Preparing for Healthy Lunches
As you may know (and maybe fear!), the key to eating more wholesome foods is a little advance preparation. But I promise you it is not difficult. Here’s your plan:
- On the weekend, go grocery shopping.
- Once every week or two, cook your favorite recipes or individual foods such as baked tofu, lean turkey meatballs, chicken breasts, and wild rice.
- After cooking, divide and freeze these foods in individual-sized portions so that on weekdays you can have them for quick, nutritious lunches (and dinners!).
- Also on the weekend, spend a little time preparing foods you’ll eat during the week that you don’t want to freeze. For example, boil eggs or cut vegetables for salads.
- Each morning, grab an individual-sized portion from the freezer and take it to work with you (such as a turkey patty and bun). At lunch, eat it with veggies or as a salad and bring to work or warm for dinner. If you have a fridge at work, keep things such as mustard or balsamic vinaigrette in stock there.
You can throw these ingredients together in endless ways to create salads, wraps, soups, omelettes, and more (see recipe below). With healthy lunches, you rely on seasonings and natural flavors instead of sugar, additives, and salt.
You should plan on bringing a lunch bag or small cooler with you to work or school – you don’t want to end up hungry away from home with nothing to eat but junk. Besides lunch, my bag includes healthy snacks.
If you’re trying to lose weight, know proper portions. But you’ll find the weight comes off more easily when you’re mostly consuming real foods instead of hyperpalatable, commercially prepared foods.
This article originally appeared on www.workoutnirvana.com.