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I have become really aware of the way that lunches generate trash. I live and work in Washington DC where boxed lunches are often provided at meetings. I am almost always shocked by the paper plates and napkins; plastic flatware and cups that are left after the meetings’ end.  I am fortunate enough to work at a place where we have a small kitchen, so I can leave food in the fridge and heat it if I need to on a little stove. Realizing not everyone has this option – especially teachers and children attending school – I was really happy to see that the Environmental Working Group EWG post an article on how to pack appealing lunches for children that are healthy and don’t cause too much environmental destruction. Heck, a lot of the suggestions look pretty darn appealing to at least this adult!

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Working 40 hours a week it’s often hard to find good lunch options. Many times people head to vending machines, delis and restaurants only to spend and eat much more than they had planned to… My office is off the beaten track so even a trip to the vending machine involves leaving the building so I have taken to planning and bringing lunches from home.

Leftovers are easy – if you make supper at home cook a bit extra and bring it to work. Invest in a wide-mouth vacuum container, preferably lined with stainless steel, and pack your lunch as you clean up after dinner. If you find yourself eating out more often, bring your container with you to the restaurant. When the food comes, divide it in half (portions are usually twice as big as they need to be) and place the other half in your container for lunch the next day. Do it before you start eating – that way that extra little bit is out of site and out of mind.

Here are a few other options for lunches:

  • canned salmon (a cost effective way to get your Omega-3 fatty acids). Prepare it with a little lemon juice and a few herbs and spread it on a piece of whole grain bread, a rice cake or a few crackers.
  • Hummus and veggies – this is easy to prepare and pack – often times grocery stores sell vegetables already prepped for dipping. But in a few minutes after your evening meal you can cut up some carrots, celery, broccoli, cucumber and peppers and drop them in your container with a few cherry tomatoes for the the next day. The chickpeas in the hummus provide protein and fiber, while the vegetables offer up antioxidants.
  • Tabouleh salad is another great option served with pita bread or atop lettuce, it provides lots of antioxidants. The main ingredient, parsley, contains three times the vitamin C as oranges, twice the iron of spinach as well as folic acid, vitamins K and A.

In many cultures around the world, the lunchtime meal is the biggest, most nutritious meal of the day. I remember breakfasts and lunches in Central America being much more elaborate than the suppertime meal. I lived in a rural area and people where people got up at dawn and went out to the fields to work. They needed a lot more ”fuel” in the early part of the day. Supper in many of the rural villages was a fried egg a few black beans and a tortilla.

That concept of daily meals is so different from typical U.S. eating. It’s not uncommon to find people who dash out of the house in the morning with little more than a cup of coffee to fuel their bodies. Most days our fast paced jobs and daily activities leave us wondering what happened to lunch hour when at 3pm the vending machine calls out to our empty stomachs. Then, in the evening we sit down and eat a 3 course meal, and eat a few snacks before hitting the hay to get up and do it all over again.

It would seem that here in the US we have it quite backwards. When our bodies are ready to sleep for the night we tend to stuff them only to leave them on empty during the day when we are most active. If you often skip breakfast why not take a challenge to try eating breakfast every day for a week and note the difference in your mood and energy.

If you want to shake things up even more, try eating breakfast, a decent sized lunch and a small dinner and no snacks before bed for one week and note your mood, energy and effectiveness. I bet you will see a difference!

Health & Nutrition Counseling

An integrative approach to health and nutrition which includes Earth consciousness.

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