It’s 10:30 in the morning, and your stomach is growling pretty loudly already. You’re already fantasizing about your well-earned lunch break, when you can eat whatever your heart desires. But be careful, this meal plays a huge role in your productivity for the rest of the day. It’s also significant in terms of your weight loss efforts. Here are the 6 biggest lunchtime mistakes, and we bet you’re probably guilty of a few of them.
1. You eat out (almost) every day
Do you grab a fast food meal or join colleagues at a restaurant most of the time? If you take the time to cook something extra in the evenings though, you can avoid this trap pretty easily. Let’s be honest “I don’t have enough time” is just an excuse, and not a great one at that.
2. You eat too fast
You’ve got back-to-back meetings or appointments, and simply can’t make time for a relaxed, leisurely lunch. Watch out though: when you eat quickly, you tend to forget about portions and therefore end up consuming a lot more calories.
Interesting fact: A study published by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found a direct correlation between higher speed of eating and a higher Body Mass Index.
Tip from the nutrition expert:
Try to chew every bite at least 20 times and try to really schedule 30 minutes as a dedicated lunch break.
3. You eat on the go or in front of your computer
If you like to squeeze your lunch in while you’re on the way somewhere else or eat sitting at your desk…better ditch that habit soon! If you’re not paying attention while you’re eating, you will likely consume more calories. Instead, try to make lunch a social activity and sit together with colleagues for a chat while you eat.
4. You’re only eating green salad
A plain salad for lunch isn’t really a balanced meal and definitely won’t fill you up. Even if you’re trying to cut calories or shed a few pounds, you can pep up your salad without making it an unhealthy choice. Try to make sure that your salad includes all three macronutrients: use dark leafy greens as a basis (field greens, spinach or green cabbage, for example), add some cut veggies (carrots, cucumber, bell pepper, etc. The more colorful the better!), then toss in your protein source of choice (we like grilled chicken, feta, hard-boiled eggs, or chickpeas!), and last but not least, include a complex carbohydrate like quinoa, couscous or beans. You can balance everything with healthy fat in your dressing by using olive oil or, if you prefer, top it all off with half an avocado.
This Greek Chickpea Salad is a great source of protein and will definitely fill you up at lunch!
5. You drink only soft drinks or fruit juice
Go for water instead — this will ensure you are well-hydrated. Soft drinks and juices don’t actually quench thirst, they just deliver you large quantities of empty calories. If you feel like water alone is too boring, try adding lemon, ginger or cucumber to give it some pep. Coconut water is another refreshing alternative.
6. You only eat when you’re actually starving
Do you have breakfast around 7 in the morning or do you skip the first meal of the day altogether? If so, it’s likely you could show signs of being hangry toward lunchtime. If your stomach is growling loudly and frequently, you may be tempted to eat anything and everything you can get your hands on at lunch. You can avoid this (and actually help your weight loss efforts!) by grabbing a mid-morning snack. Plain yogurt with fresh berries or apple slices with almond butter are great choices for filling up between meals.