5 Foods to Upgrade Your Lunch
In this blog post, we'll be exploring 5 foods that will upgrade your lunch for a productive afternoon. Whether you're looking for healthy options or the best fast food to buy for lunch, we've got you covered. Plus, we'll share some tips on where to buy good lunch. And if you're looking for more healthy eating resources, be sure to check out bitewell.
Lunch sounds exciting, right? It should be exciting without a doubt, but, for some people, figuring out what to eat for lunch may be harder than it should be. There are many food ideas that can make this meal of the day a great one, or, even your favorite one! Check out this article to feel inspired for your next lunch.
What are the best foods to eat at lunch for a productive afternoon?
Let’s begin with a topic you are probably familiar with: “Food is fuel”.
The best way to describe this idea is that any food that provides you with energy and a good amount of essential nutrients will be the best food to eat (this is not only at lunch for a productive afternoon, but any time to feel energetic and ready for any activity.)
Nonetheless, some foods may have specific effects on productivity and energy! Below you will find how these food groups contribute to your energy and productivity levels in the afternoon.
Foods high in protein, like chicken, salmon, tofu, or chickpeas, can help not only keep you full due to protein's satiating effect, but also help keep you focused throughout the day. Eating protein raises tyrosine levels in your brain. Tyrosine stimulates the production of the hormones dopamine and norepinephrine, which ultimately help activate the brain's activity and help the body feel more energized!
#2 Whole grains
Just like protein, whole grains also help you feel full for longer due to their higher fiber and protein content when compared to refined grains. Brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat buns, and popcorn are all examples of whole grains. By feeling full for longer, you may find yourself being more productive and focused post-lunch.
#3 Leafy greens
Consumption of vegetables is beneficial to overall health, but research has found that leafy greens especially are packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (non-nutritive compounds found in food that are beneficial for health) that support brain functioning. For example, kale, spinach, collard greens, and broccoli are all good sources of vitamin K, a nutrient that supports healthy blood pressure and, therefore, healthy blood flow to the brain.
#4 Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds are a powerhouse snack to power you through your afternoon. Nuts and seeds are high in healthy fats to support both brain health (long-term) and promote satiety (short-term). Get creative with topping your salads and bowls with nuts and seeds or try a trail mix with nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate as your lunchtime dessert.
Fruit is full of naturally-occurring sugars. When eaten whole, fruit provides fiber alongside the sugars, which work synergistically in the body to provide a quick pick-me-up without the crash.
What is the healthiest fast food to buy for lunch?
Choosing what to eat while at work may be difficult due to time management and the broad variety of restaurants available and options to choose from. If this is your case, feel relieved to know that by following a healthy, balanced, and whole mindset, the decisions of what to eat for lunch, even at fast food restaurants, may be easier than you thought.
A great rule of thumb is to include all food groups in your meal (think of carbohydrates, vegetables, protein, and healthy fats). If you follow this mindset, choosing what to eat will be much easier. With that being said, looking for restaurants that offer salads, or grilled options instead of only fried foods, which increase dietary fat intake and may lead to health issues such as obesity and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, may be the best choice for the inclusion of all food groups.
In terms of protein and fat, focus on lean proteins, such as grilled chicken, salmon, or fish, instead of fattier choices such as BBQ ribs or steak. As for fat, choose sides that provide heart-healthy fats such as avocado, extra virgin olive oil, or chia seeds.
Let’s think of an example - a fried chicken sandwich. Delicious, right? But eating it multiple times a week, or even, once a week may not be as beneficial for your health. This does not mean you cannot enjoy a chicken sandwich, instead, look for a grilled chicken sandwich, as this one will have a higher portion of healthy fats compared to its fried counterparts. Topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and a whole grain bun, you can build a chicken sandwich that is both delicious and nutritionally balanced.
Finding healthier options on a fast-food menu can be as simple as swapping out fried options for grilled, choosing whole grain carbs over refined, and adding healthy fats like a side of avocado to your order. Identify these options on your favorite fast-food menu to make lunchtime a breeze.
Best apps for lunch suggestions
Appetizers can be a great part of your meal. Delicious and full of flavor! But it is important to choose properly so that you don’t feel extremely full afterward.
If eating an appetizer prior to lunch is on your mind, apply the same concept of whole and unprocessed foods to it and go for options that align with this idea. Appetizers with vegetables, some healthy fats, and lots of flavors should be your go-to!
There are endless options of appetizers in many restaurants that you can make at home, for example, stuffed mushrooms, spinach, and artichoke dip or guacamole with crudites. Eating options like these can increase the number of nutrients you are consuming while maintaining a great and healthy lunch!
Where can I go to buy a fresh lunch?
Now that you know the secrets to making the most out of your lunch, you may be wondering what places will have the best options for you. Below, you’ll find places that will make this task easier and more enjoyable!
Local farmers’ markets or grocery stores have many healthy options packed with tons of colorful fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
Cafes or restaurants offer customizable salads, bowls, and sandwich options to create a meal that satisfies your specific cravings.
Meal delivery services that cater to specific dietary needs and/or preferences - Check out bitewell and our FoodHealth Scoring system.
Even in your own kitchen, with some meal prepping and leftovers, you can create something amazingly fresh for lunch.