March is Nutrition Month, plus with spring on the way, many of us use this as a time to kick-start new programs. So why not take this time to give your lunch a healthy makeover?
Four easy ways to up the nutrition factor of your lunches:
Add more fruits and vegetables
Try an app such as MyFitnessPal to monitor whether you’re getting your daily requirements of fruits and vegetables — many adults are not. If you’re lacking in this department, include more fresh produce in your midday meal. After all, if you pack it, you’re more likely to eat it than head from your office to the coffee shop to get a cookie snack. The easiest way, of course, is to simply pack an apple or banana with your lunch, but if you’re not a fan of eating fruit this way, prepare a large container of fresh fruit salad on the weekend, and take portions with you every day for lunch. Or incorporate more fruit and veggies into your sandwiches (they’ll add flavour and texture).
Switch to whole grains
Instead of the French baguette you use for your sandwich, try a flax seed or sprouted bread for your lunch. If you’re taking leftovers from dinner, use a whole-grain pasta when making your vegetable lasagna. Besides being healthier for you, whole grains tend to make you feel fuller, so you eat less.
Include more protein
Women often don’t get enough protein from their diets. If you’re a salad-for-lunch kind of person, be sure to not just include greens, but add a can of tuna or salmon in it as well, and throw in some cashews, walnuts or almonds for crunch, protein and healthy fats. If you made a roast or some other type of meat entree for dinner, throw a few slices of meat along with some veggies into some whole-grain bread or pita to make a sandwich or wrap for lunch.
Add more calcium
Getting your RDA of calcium is essential for strong bones. Include grated or chunks of cheese on top of your salad or slices in your sandwich. Or, as part of a simple lunch (bonus: very little prep time), enjoy some whole-grain crackers with cheese (just be sure the rest of your lunch includes the other food groups as well). If you like to have something like dessert with your lunch, bring a container of yogurt to get both your sweet fix and a serving of calcium.