When it comes to eating lunch at work, most of us know that packing a lunch is almost always a healthier choice than heading to the fast food joint nearby. By bringing your lunch from home, you know exactly what foods and ingredients are included and what’s going in your body by the end of your lunch break.
But what if what you’re packing just doesn’t seem all that healthy? What if you’re really trying to make changes and don’t know where to start? Packing a lunch takes commitment, but packing a healthy lunch takes dedication.
A lot of us think that being healthy has to require a lot of work, effort, and planning. I want to share with you five easy swaps you can make to the meals you already enjoy to make your packed lunches even healthier.
1. Swap a leafy green wrap in place of a flour or corn tortilla.
Leafy greens are one of the most missing foods in the American diet. By using large leafy greens like kale, collard greens, or chard as a wrap, you can boost your intake of beneficial vital phytonutrients and vitamins. You can fill your wrap with whatever you wish and still feel good about getting your greens in.
2. Swap hearty whole grains in place of pasta salads or other pasta.
Whole grains are an excellent healthy swap for pasta, because not only do they provide some major benefits like fiber and essential vitamins, but they will fill you up faster than many of the packaged pastas you find at the grocery store. Cook a whole batch on the weekend and flavor it any way you like to create healthy whole grain salads or casseroles.
3. Swap out a piece of whole fresh fruit in place of cookies or other dessert.
Fresh fruit is a great swap for many dessert items, because it provides a sweetness a lot of us are after at the end of a meal. Not only that, but fresh fruit is low in calories, high in fiber and many are a great source of essential nutrients (something that you can’t say about many packaged cookies you find at the grocery store).
4. Swap heart-healthy avocados in place of mayonnaise on sandwiches or in wraps.
Avocados are an amazing source of monounsaturated fats that are great for your heart and are said to lower the risk of heart disease. They’re also full of fiber, which is great for digestion, and vitamin K, which promotes bone support. Mayonnaise, on the other hand, is loaded with cholesterol and sodium, which are both detrimental to your heart and overall cardiovascular health.
5. Swap water that you’ve flavored yourself with fresh fruit chunks in place of sodas, coffee, or other “no-calorie” drinks.
If you’re a big soda drinker, I’m sure this one is the toughest to read. Soda, coffee, and any other sugary beverages are full of empty calories and most of them will dehydrate you and rob you of many of the essential vitamins and minerals your body really needs to hang on to. Water is the best no-calorie beverage out there to hydrate your body and help ensure proper digestion and organ function. If you need to have some flavoring to your drink, fill a large pitcher with water, add a few fruit slices, and let it steep for a few hours in the refrigerator. You’ll have a full pitcher of yummy flavored water to pack all week long.
Making healthy choices at lunch doesn’t have to be difficult, costly, or time-intensive. Just a few simple swaps and your lunch will be headed in a healthier direction than it ever has been before.