Tackling Lunchtime Challenges
Nutrition Month is all about inspiring Canadians to eat better and to make healthy, sustainable lifestyle changes. In my last blog, I explored rushed mornings and missed breakfast; today, I will tackle the tricky lunch meal. I will address top 3 lunchtime challenges, why this is a health concern and then I will provide some tips.
Workplace Lunch Obstacles:
Challenge #1: Most Popular Meal to Eat out
Lunch is the most popular meal to eat out and lunch is least likely to be prepared at home. According to Tracking Nutrition Trends Survey, only 37% of Canadians prepare lunch at home (vs 48% for dinner and 52% for breakfast). When not equipped with a packed lunch, we are faced with a multitude of meal options at sit down or fast food restaurants.
When eating out, it is a challenge to manage portion sizes so we will inevitably eat more than we need. Also, when eating out, we are not in control of the ingredients used. Therefore, these meal options are often much higher in calories, salt, fat and sugar.
I recommend clients set aside 10 minutes in the evening to pack a lunch. This doesn’t have to be daily but as often as possible. This way, you can be in control of the healthfulness of the foods you are packing. Here is a link to my past blog on healthy brown bag lunch ideas for families.
Challenge #2: We are distracted!
Hectic schedules force people to do a lot of things all at once. Lunch is often squeezed into a few minutes of taking bites at your desk or even while doing another activity like driving, talking on the phone or answering e-mails.
Quite simply, eating while distracted leads to overeating. We are less likely to feel satisfied since we are not taking time to really enjoy or even notice what we are eating. Let’s eat like the French do and savour and enjoy our foods more!
Break away from the desk and eat in a lunchroom or with a colleague. Try to be a more mindful eater and take time to just eat your meal. Best of all, eliminating distractions gives your brain and body a chance to re-charge and you will be more focused and energized for the afternoon.
Eliminating distractions while eating gives you a chance to re-charge Click To Tweet
Challenge #3: Lunch Skipping
It is estimated that over one third (36%) of Canadians skip lunch (Tracking Nutrition Trends Survey, 2013). Lunch may be skipped because people are “too busy” or because people are not prepared with a packed lunch.
Skipping lunch deprives your body of necessary fuel that your body needs at regular intervals throughout the day. People with skip lunch are more likely to overeat later on the drive home, at dinner and/or for their evening snack.
People who skip lunch are more likely to overeat later Click To Tweet
Avoid skipping lunch. Stock your workplace with snacks like fruits, peanut or soynut butter, whole grain crackers, nuts/seeds and bottles of water. Schedule a 20 minute appointment as a non-negoitable time for your health to fuel up!
Lunchtime does not have to be a workplace challenge. Start by prioritizing packing a lunch more often (even one extra day a week). Plan to eat lunch in a non-distracted environment and commit to not skipping lunch despite the inevitable interruptions. Regular lunch meals will be your secret weapon for keeping energized throughout the workday.
Adapted from the Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month Campaign Materials. Find out more at www.nutritionmonth2015.ca.