Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but lunch often presents the biggest challenge when you’re working on losing or maintaining your weight.
Even if you’re simply trying to make healthier eating choices, lunch out at a café or restaurant can be stressful. Here are some quick tips to make navigating the world of sandwiches and soups simpler and healthier.
If you’re a sucker for a great sandwich, wrap, or burger, ask if you can replace the bread, tortilla, or bun with a lettuce wrap instead. Some lunch spots may even offer a low-carb wrap or a “naked” option—usually meaning your sandwich comes on a bed of lettuce. And if must be said: skip the fries or potato chips. Ask to sub with a veggies or a salad—or forgo the side altogether, and always ask for sauces on the side.
If you love warm, comforting soups, skip anything with “hearty,” “bisque,” or “cream/creamy/cream of” in the title. Legume-based soups like split pea, black-eyed pea, or black bean are high in fiber and plant-based protein, as well as thick and filling—without added flour or heavy cream. For the lowest carb option, look for vegetable soup (no noodles or potatoes), or meat chili. But watch out for “stews,” as they commonly include flour or cornstarch as thickeners.
Salads are often our go-to selection for a “healthy” lunch, but beware! Not all salads are healthy. Always ask for your dressing on the side, skip the croutons or fried wonton strips, and pay attention to other calorie-dense toppings like seeds, nuts, or cheeses. Simple is best when it comes to salad: start with mixed greens or Romaine lettuce, add a lean protein like chicken or grilled fish, and top with veggies. And opt for extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and vinegar, a squeeze or lemon, and some salt and pepper to dress your salad.
Lunch can be both healthy and fun! You may be surprised by the variety of options you can find.
Regardless of the restaurant’s cuisine, stick to some guidelines will help you find a filling, healthy option. One quick and easy way to cut the carbs from any meal is to skip starchy side offerings like white rice, potatoes, or corn. Along the same lines, avoid bread, wraps, and tortillas.
Look for protein-based plates with salad, grilled or steamed vegetables, or beans as sides. You can also order your main dish à la carte, but most restaurants are happy to substitute salad or veggies (sometimes with a nominal upcharge).
General Lunch Tips Conclusion
No matter your preference or the restaurant, keep these tips in mind when eating lunch out:
When you’re trying to lose weight, everything you put in your mouth matters—both food and beverages. Many popular beverages, such as coffee drinks, sodas, sports drinks, bottled iced teas, and juices are high in sugar, and a major source of hidden empty calories. For example, a typical 12-ounce non-diet cola contains about 150 calories and about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Cutting these sugary calories out of your diet is a ‘must’ to start losing weight!
So what should you drink?Plain water is always a healthy choice—most people don’t drink enough water, and it has no calories—but it can get a little boring after awhile. You also might want something more festive when you entertain or go out with work mates or friends. In that case, here are some beverage options that won’t derail your weight loss efforts.
Instead of plain H2O, sip infused water. Add slices of lemons or limes to a pitcher of water in your refrigerator. As the citrus fruit sits, it infuses the water with subtle flavor. Cucumbers or mint leaves are also tasty choices.
Hot or iced, as long as it’s unsweetened, tea is great choice of calorie-free beverage. Green tea and black tea (which come from the same plant—the difference is in the processing of the leaves) have been linked with health benefits, and herbal teas come in many flavorful, caffeine-free varieties.
A simple cup of coffee is also a good choice, as long as you have no issues with caffeine. Take it black, or with a little (30 ml | 1 oz.) whole milk.
Thirsty for something bubbly? Choose plain or flavored seltzers and soda waters. This beverage category has exploded in recent years, and there are many flavored waters that are both calorie and sugar-free to choose from. Try coconut to cucumber, just to name just a few. Read labels to be sure your choice has no added sugar. You can also flavor your own plain seltzer with a splash of a water enhancer.
What about nut milks?Many of them contain added sugars or flavorings, and should be avoided. Unsweetened ones can serve as a substitute if you’re lactose intolerant or choose not to drink cow’s milk, but most contain very little protein and don’t have the same nutritional profile as cow’s milk.
What about trendy choices like coconut water, maple water, smoothies or kombucha? While they’re better choices than soda, they all contain calories, carbohydrates, and sugar—and they may not fit in with your healthy weight loss plan. And remember, calories you drink don’t usually keep you feeling as full and satisfied as well as calories you eat.
With so many beverages to choose from, you might not even miss the sodas or juices you used to drink. And while you’re hydrating yourself, you can be assured you’re not undoing the work you’ve put into losing weight.
Protein is the building block of the human body and a crucial part of complete nutrition. Carbohydrates are easy to find or grab off the shelf, but protein-rich foods usually require a bit more preparation. If you struggle with fitting enough protein into your diet, try these on for size:
Where’s the Beef?Not all meats are created equal, and your preferences are shaped by a plethora of variables and past experiences. Just because you didn’t like something in the past doesn’t mean you won’t like it prepared differently now—and if you still don’t, try some other options!
Beef: Beef is a great source of protein, but a diet based solely on beef could lead to high cholesterol and heart problems. Look for lean cuts of steak to pan grill or bar-b-q, pot roasts for slow oven roasting or set and forget slow cooker, and lean ground beef (ideally 90/10, which means 90% lean meat, 10% fat) for browning or making burger patties. The key to fantastic beef is a combination of seasoning and cooking time, so grab a meat thermometer the next time you’re out grocery shopping and avoid guessing when your beef is done.
Wild Game: Wild and organic game really do have distinctive flavors, so they can be an acquired taste. Venison, elk, and bison are all richly flavored, lean alternatives to beef.
Poultry: Over chicken breasts? We understand! Chicken is often touted as an “ideal” protein because it’s lean, but chicken alone gets boring fast. Try roasting turkey drumsticks or breasts, or even a whole bird, in the oven. While duck is higher in fat than either chicken or turkey, it can make a great occasional meal. Wild birds like pheasant and game hens also offer lean not-chicken protein options.
Seafood, shellfish and fish: Seafood is an excellent source of protein, and the variety in texture and flavor mean nearly everyone can find a type of seafood they love. Shellfish tend to be “sweeter,” but can become rubbery if overcooked, so proceed with caution if you decide to host a shrimp or crab boil yourself. If you normally turn up your nose because fish smells or tastes too “fishy,” try branching out to other types of fish and preparation styles. Don’t forget that freshness is the single most important factor in the flavor of any type of seafood, so if you do take a bite that is exceptionally fishy tasting, stop eating!
Protein Plant PowerEven if you aren’t a vegan or vegetarian, don’t ignore the protein offered by plants.
Tofu: Plain tofu offers the most protein bang per serving, and this boring-looking white block can be incredibly versatile. Simply sub for chicken or fish in a recipe, or look for tofu-specific recipes. Tofu can also be used to make dairy-substitute foods, but double-check any off-the-shelf dairy substitutes, as they can be full of added sugars.
Nuts: It probably isn’t news to you that nuts are a great source of plant protein, as well as healthy fat. But not all nuts are created equal: almonds provide the highest protein to fat ratio and little carbohydrates, but walnuts and pistachios are also great options. Opt for raw, or unsalted roasted nuts and stick to the serving size, or substitute nut-flour for all or part of recipes calling for wheat flour.
Legumes: Beans, beans, the wonderful fruit! If you turn up your nose at beans, consider this: legumes are high in both protein and fiber, so they’re exceptionally filling. Beans are also ridiculously versatile. Try pureeing or smashing black or kidney beans as a substitute for sour cream, make homemade hummus with chickpeas (garbanzo beans), or swap the flour in your kids’ brownies for pureed black beans (yes, really! – we promise they’ll never notice).
ConclusionGood seasoning is essential for any food, and doubly so for protein. If you’re attempting to cook something new, do a quick search for recipes to get an idea what spices and herbs will pair best. Choose packaged seasoning carefully, as they’re often little more than salt, and can contain hidden sugar. Check recommended cooking times and internal temperatures for meats to ensure you never overcook it again. Subbing plant protein for animal protein is not only healthy, but also good for the earth. If you’re predominantly a meat-eater, try going meat free for one meal or one day a week and play around with plant protein options to find something you look forward to eating.
To successfully maintain your weight loss, you need to become more physically active. It’s challenging to squeeze a workout into an already busy schedule, but just because you might not have time for a full-blown gym session every day doesn’t mean you should do nothing. One way to fit in exercise is to sneak it into you workday. Here are some ways to do that.
Walk to workIf you live close enough and weather permits, turn your commute into exercise. Walk, jog, or ride your bicycle to work. Even if you’re not close enough, you can still park your car far enough from your office to get in a little walking, or get off public transportation at an earlier stop.
Take Mini-Exercise BreaksOnce you get to work, don’t just plop down behind your desk and stay there all day.
Have you heard the saying, “Sitting is the new smoking”? Some health experts advise moving around for 10 minutes every hour to offset the negative effects of sitting for long periods of time. Even if you can’t move around that frequently, set an alarm to remind yourself to get up and move around as often as you can. When it goes off, take a mini exercise break. Instead of surfing social media or grabbing a coffee in the break room, take a walk around your office building, climb a flight of stairs, do a few squats or push ups against your desk, or indulge in a few stretches. Roll your neck gently from side to side, twist your torso in your chair, stretch your arms up towards the ceiling or out in front of you, circle your wrists and ankles.
Take Structured BreaksIf your job permits, you may even be able to work in some structured mini workouts. Use an app, or search online for mini-workout programs, or simply do a few exercises at your desk: tighten and hold your abs or glutes for 30 seconds at a time, sit down and rise from your chair without using your hands, use the edge of your desk to do dips, march in place, do calf raises, or practice seated yoga moves.
Lunch BreaksUse your lunchtime to workout. Does your office have a gym? Use it! If not, is there a safe place to walk or run, such as a nearby mall or pedestrian-friendly side street? Don’t skip lunch, though. Only use part of your lunch break for exercise, so you can refuel to keep your energy levels up for the rest of your workday.
Try a New Way of SittingReplace your desk chair with a stability ball. Sitting on a ball requires using your muscles to maintain balance. You may also consider replacing your regular desk with a standing desk, or with a device that raises and lowers your computer so that you can stand up to work part of the time.
Keep It MovingLook for other simple ways to add movement to your workday. Can you walk around while you talk on the phone? Take the stairs rather than the elevator? Walk to a colleague’s office rather than email or message him/her? Send all your print jobs to the printer farthest from your desk? You might also see if your fellow employees are game for a walking meeting rather than sitting around a conference table.
And speaking of your fellow employees, join with like-minded coworkers to form a fitness group. Take a walk together at lunchtime, or sign up as a group for a charity walk and encourage each other to train for it.
To maintain your weight loss, time devoted specifically to exercise will always be important. However, on days you’re strapped for time, consider these ways to sneak in some exercise.
The phone rings right when you come home from work. The dog needs walking, the kids are hungry, and what was it you were going to make for dinner?
Twenty-first century life throws a lot at you and it’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of uncontrolled stress—a cycle that could have you reaching for the nearest snack, undoing all your hard work to reach your weigh loss goals.
Finding ways to reduce your stress levels—ways that don’t involve eating large amounts of chocolate cake—can help you maintain your weight loss as well as head off more serious health consequences in the future.
Rather than turn to food, try one of the following simple stress relievers1. Breath Work: Even something as simple as taking a few deep breaths can make you feel less stressed. When you’re stressed you often breathe shallowly or even hold your breath. Pay attention to your breathing. Breathe in through your nose for a count of three. Hold for a moment, then breathe out for a count of three.
2. Meditation: Just a few minutes of meditation can calm your mind and body. There are many types of meditation, but one of the simplest ways to get started is to focus on something, such as your breath, while allowing your thoughts to pass through your mind without judging them. You might also choose a guided meditation app, CD, or other tool to help you.
3. Guided Imagery: Close your eyes and picture yourself in a peaceful, happy place. Maybe lying on a beach with warm sunlight shining on your skin, or perhaps breathing the scents of moss and ferns while walking slowly through the woods. Search online for “free audio guided imagery scenarios” to jump start your imagination.
4. Movement: Go for a brisk walk. Do 10 jumping jacks, practice yoga, or dance around your living room. When you’re physically active, your brain produces endorphins, natural painkillers that also help reduce stressed out feelings. Even five minutes can help!
5. Aromatherapy: By activating smell receptors, certain essential oils can help reduce stress and anxiety. Diffuse into a room, or put a few drops on a cotton ball to sniff when you feel tense. Lavender and clary sage are two popular choices.
6. Play “Dead”: Lie on the floor in what is known in yoga as savasana, or “corpse pose.” Close your eyes and breathe. Allow your body to sink into the support of the floor and let your stress flow out of you.
7. Single Task: Multi-tasking raises stress levels as your brain tries to juggle multiple activities. Focus on doing one thing at a time, paying full attention to what you’re doing.
8. Soothe Your Body: To relax your mind, do something that feels good to your body. Sit in a steam room or sauna, soak in a warm bath, schedule a massage, or give yourself a hand or foot rub.
9. Pet Therapy: Stroking an animal lowers blood pressure. Pet, play with, walk, or otherwise interact with a pet. If you don’t have one of your own, offer to walk your neighbor’s dog, or volunteer at an animal shelter.
10. Laugh: Read something funny, talk to your most hilarious friend, or let your favorite comedian crack you up. One of laughter’s many health benefits is reducing stress.
When you’re frazzled and stressed to the limit, it’s difficult to make the healthy eating choices you want to make. Try one—or all—of these simple stress-relieving activities the next time stress has you in its grip.
You’ve probably heard the term “body positivity” recently—especially if you’re thinking about weight management or working toward losing weight. You may have wondered if you can be body positive and lose weight. The answer is yes, but this doesn’t mean we can only love the body we’re in and not make changes. Exploring weight loss options and losing weight can actually be very body positive.
Body positivity, bodypos for short, is the idea that: all bodies are worthy, there is no “ideal” body type, and people should love themselves regardless of their body shape or size. Stretch marks, acne, body hair, scars, blemishes—bodypos seeks to normalize all of it.
Why did the bodypos movement start?The bodypos movement started as a call for the media to better represent diverse body types. It also drew attention to the extreme photoshopping and idealized editing of models and celebrities in ads and publications. Some have taken this to mean that body positive promotes obesity, while at the same time shaming slim people. Not true! Body positivity has never been about “skinny shaming” or promoting obesity or unhealthy lifestyles.
How can weight loss and body positivity work together?It is about being kind to yourself and adopting an affirming attitude toward your body. It’s also wanting to be the healthiest, best version of yourself. It is body positive to search for healthy weight loss programs and to lose weight in order to be healthier & achieve your goals—whether your goal is to move more comfortably, or generally be more active.
You don’t have to love the size on the tag or the number on the scale because those numbers are not you. Reminding yourself why you want to lose weight is a great place to start. Set an alert on your phone or leave notes around your home with your goals to remain body positive while on your weight loss journey.
Your health, happiness, and well-being are all great reasons to lose weight and they are body positive. Although it’s fine to have a short-term inspiration like wanting to look good in an outfit for an event, it probably won’t keep you motivated long-term. Personal bodypos weight loss motivators might look something like: actively playing with your children, taking daily walks, or participating in activities that might be painful or uncomfortable now.
Your motivation doesn’t have to be big to be effective! Set your goals based on the life you want to live to be happy and healthy. At the end of the day, you are your own champion when it comes to your weight loss journey: stay focused on the reasons why you want to lose weight and don’t forget to celebrate your weight loss wins, both big and small!
No doubt about it – sticking to a healthier weight loss program will require a commitment of time. But where do you find that time?
If you’re like most of us, you have a job that keeps you hopping (or sitting most of the day), an active family life and the daily stresses that happen in our lives. You may wonder how (or even why) you’re going to add one more thing to your day.
If this sounds like you, don’t throw up your hands in dismay just yet; there are some smart strategies you can take to make a healthy weight loss journey doable, no matter how swamped you are.
Knowledge truly is powerful, and understanding why we may be gaining weight gives us the tools to reverse those numbers on the scale.
We know that too many calories cause weight gain. However, sometimes it is the type of foods that we are eating that can sabotage our best intentions.
We metabolize different kinds of foods differently. For example, calories we consume from sugar will certainly affect us much differently than calories from healthy protein. Eating high fat, high-carb sugary foods can make us crave the very food that makes us hungrier and sadly, heavier. Foods that cause these cravings are well-known to all of us, including candy, soda, chips, crackers, pastries and ice cream. Other sources of sugar aren’t so obvious, like fruit juice and barbeque sauce, for example.
Eating high quality protein, on the other hand, keeps us feeling satisfied. Protein preserves muscle, which burns calories 24 hours a day—even at rest. Plus, it may help boost our metabolism as our bodies use more energy to digest it. Protein is found in numerous food sources besides meat and fish, such as beans, nuts and eggs.
This knowledge helps us understand that drinking a can of sugary soda with 140 calories will have a completely different impact on our body compared to eating the same number of calories from two medium eggs.
Understanding why we should adopt healthier habits is a first step towards keeping the weight off—for good! The next step is finding the habits we want to adopt.
Here are some habits that can be integrated to a healthier lifestyle;
Ditching sugar and starch. Eliminate or reduce simple sugars and processed, starchy carbs from your diet.
Drinking more water. Staying hydrated throughout the day aids digestion.
Being active. Moderate physical activity can have a positive effect on improving overall wellness.
ake the weight off. Gain it back. Take the weight off again. Gain it back again.
It’s called yo-yo dieting, or in more clinical terms, weight cycling. But no matter what you call it, watching our weight go up and down—just like a yo-yo—can be an endless cycle for many of us.
Watching our weight fluctuate up and down is frustrating and unhealthy. But, you can stop the cycle by finding a solution that works for you.
After all, you already know how to lose weight. You’ve done it time and again. But you also know by now that losing weight is only half the battle. You also have to learn how to keep it off. Here are some tips that will help you stop yo-yo dieting once and for all.
Be realistic. Pick a weight management plan that you can stay with—first to help you lose weight and then to help you keep the weight off—for life. It’s a permanent way of living.
Believe you can do it. Ask yourself if making the lifestyle, diet and exercise changes are worth a healthier you. Do you believe they will pay off in the long-run?
Try something new. Make small changes—they’re usually easier to do and to keep doing. Even a tiny change can invigorate your weight loss journey and bring positive results.
Take time to take care of yourself. Of course eating healthfully and exercising regularly is taking care of you. But doing things that have nothing to do with weight loss can also help with your self-care. A little TLC can do wonders.
Try not to use food as a stress reliever. For many of us, eating when we are stressed can turn into a binge. Recognizing that life can be messy and stressful can help you to put food in its proper place.
Ask for help if you need it. Talk with your support group, whether its friends, family or a colleague. It can help you keep your weight loss journey in perspective.
Ingrain your new healthy behaviors. Boost your odds of reaching your goal and stop yo-yo dieting with a commitment to your new healthy lifestyle in your new permanent way of living.
Yes, you can make yo-yo dieting, along with all its potential health dangers, a thing of the past. And, you can become someone who lost the weight—for good!
You stepped onto your bathroom scale and did a double-take when you saw the numbers had moved up. You thought you were doing everything right. You have made changes in your lifestyle, right-sized your eating, started exercising regularly and even asked for help from your support system when you needed it. Yet, you gained weight. And you don’t understand why!
Here’s one possibility: Somewhere along the way you fell victim to a “trigger.”
What is a trigger? It’s simple: A trigger is any kind of stimulus that we can have a reaction to. Triggers can be sights, smells, sounds, locations, stressful situations—even people—that break down our resistance and cause us to eat things that sabotage our weight loss efforts.
Because triggers are specific for each individual, they can be difficult to recognize, but here are some examples of things that can trigger someone into overeating and gaining weight:
The most important thing is to become more aware of what causes our triggers and to change our behavior so that we aren’t vulnerable to the temptations. For those triggers that are unavoidable or particularly tempting, the key is to have a game plan in place to deal with them—techniques such as visualization (picturing you achieving your weight loss objective) and thought-stopping (thinking something positive, like how proud you were when you started losing weight) can keep triggers at bay until the urge to overeat passes.
With so many opportunities to encounter triggers, it’s not difficult to see how the numbers on our scales can move up. Teaching ourselves how to recognize and avoid our triggers will help us continue to make smarter decisions to reach our weight loss goals!
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Ideal Nutrition Center
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