Although I’m a work at home mom now, I had a corporate job for 8 years, complete with the cubicle farm, pipelines, spreadsheets, and status meetings. Each and every day the all important “What’s for Lunch” email would circulate between me and my co-workers. It went something like this:
Does anyone want to get out of the office for lunch today?
Yeah, what are you up for?
How about pizza at Collina’s?
Nah, I had pizza for dinner last night. How about Mexican at Lupe Tortilla’s?
Do you think we could get away with having a margarita?
Just don’t invite (insert bosses name here)!
Alright, let’s meet by the elevators at 11:30 so we can beat the lunch rush!
Sounds like a plan.
This took all of 5 minutes to plan. At 11:30 we were off to lunch, a lunch that usually consisted of many shared baskets of chips and salsa, green chicken enchiladas, fresh flour tortillas, and maybe, just maybe a shared margarita. Yeah, I was bad like that!
All in all, this lunch probably added up to around 1,200-1,500 calories. One meal. This scenario played out a couple times a week. It’s no wonder I gained so much weight while working.
So how can you break this chain and eat healthier at the office? It’s all about planning ahead and setting aside time for healthy eating. If you don’t plan ahead, you’ll fall into the cycle of grabbing whatever’s handy-crap from the vending machine or fast food, and eating at your desk while you work. Trust me, I’ve been there so many times!
- A sack lunch doesn’t have to be boring! Try something different, like an Alternative Bagel sandwich. Toast the bagel, spread on some Laughing Cow cheese and a couple of ounces of turkey, toss on some sprouts and a tomato slice, and voila! A yummy, and very low-calorie lunch. Pair it with some fresh, juicy apple wedges and a 100 calorie pack of pretzel twists, and you’ve got a well balanced and healthy lunch.
- Pack some leftovers. Since you’re likely making healthy dinners at home and you’re trying to avoid overeating, before you serve dinner, box up a serving and toss it in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch. You’ll avoid going back for that second helping (since it’s chilling in the fridge) and you won’t have to think about what you’re eating tomorrow!
- Wrap it up. Flatout bread is amazing. Have you tried it yet? The Flatout light bread boasts only 90 calories and is super-yummy. Wrap up some grilled chicken or turkey breast slices, a couple of slices of avocado, some sprouts, diced tomatoes and drizzle with a little low-fat ranch. Yum! Lunch is served. You can also make pizzas with Flatout bread, but that might be something you want to do for dinner at home. Kids love them!
- Have a Salad Club! Get together with a couple of co-workers once or twice a week, and make a great salad. One person can bring the fresh spinach or spring mix, another can bring some grilled and chopped chicken, and a third could bring a homemade vinaigrette along with another healthy topping. Not only do you get away from your desk, but you don’t have all the responsibility for preparing a healthy meal, and you get to hang out with some friends and socialize!
- Get away from your desk for lunch. Away from the computer, the phone, the distractions. When you’re distracted while you eat, you don’t pay attention to how much you’re eating and you tend to overeat. Be mindful of each bite and learn to recognize the “I’m full” signal.
Here are some other ideas to mix up your brown bag lunch:
- 100 calorie packs of anything! Can you say controlled portions?!
- Single serve apple sauce, fruit cups, yogurt, cottage cheese
- baby carrots, fresh sugar snap peas, snow peas, red bell pepper slices, cucumbers. Fresh is the way to go!
- low-fat string cheese
- seedless grapes, cherries, apples, clementines, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries – you get the picture!
It is possible to eat healthy, exciting things for lunch with a little planning. Even if you don’t work outside the home, these simple ways to change up your lunch will work for you. Planning your lunches ahead of time will keep you from falling into the “I don’t know what I’m going to eat, so I’ll just grab whatever’s handy” trap.
If you have some suggestions, please leave a comment! Everyone benefits from others’ experiences.
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Thirty-nine year-old wife and mom to BJ (11) and Mia (7). I’m the editor at the Sisterhood, and I really love to run (really), read, cook amazing things, and photography is my fledging passion. My motivation is motivating other people to realize they can do this whole weight-loss and exercise thing. I’m living proof!