You may find yourself grabbing a ready-made sandwich or a microwave pasta meal and eating lunch on-the-go or at your desk. Processed and convenience meals are high in sodium, sugar and unhealthy fats and can add excess weight. Cutting out 500 calories a day can help you maintain a healthy weight loss of 1 pound a week. Keep your lunch meals balanced and low in fat and sugars to lose weight and improve your overall health.
Fats are an important part of your daily diet that give you long-term energy. Eating the right type of fats can help you lose weight and improve your overall health. MayoClinic.com advises that fish contain fats that can reduce your risk of heart disease. Fish such as salmon are lean protein sources that contain omega-3 fatty acids -- unsaturated fats that may help reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. Eating one to two servings of fish per week can help lower your cholesterol levels and assist you in losing weight. How you prepare and cook your fish also affect whether it is healthy. Avoid marinating fish with bottled marinades that add saturated fats and sodium; try olive oil and fresh or dried herbs instead. Grill your fish instead of deep-frying it.
Toss a grain salad for lunch using whole grains such as barley, couscous or quinoa and legumes such as beans or lentils. These whole grains are rich in fiber, protein and other nutrients that help to stimulate your metabolism. The University of Maryland Medical Center advises that soluble fiber may help you lower your cholesterol levels by removing unhealthy dietary fats from your digestive tract before they can accumulate in your body. Dress up your salad with olive oil or a homemade vinaigrette instead of store-bought salad dressings that are packed with saturated fat and sodium. Sprinkle ground flaxseeds for an extra dose of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
Sandwiches are convenient to pack for lunch, and you can eat them almost anywhere, while store-bought sandwiches typically contain high-fat mayonnaise. They may also contain bread made from refined, white flour, which is stripped of fiber and nutrients. Eat whole-grain bread to help you feel full longer. Eating high amounts of fiber may help prevent weight gain, especially around the middle. Make your own sandwich for lunch with whole-grain bread and low-fat ingredients. Use hummus as a sandwich spread instead of mayonnaise for added fiber and healthy fats. Two tablespoons of hummus contain approximately 70 calories; in comparison, the same amount of regular mayonnaise will give you 180 calories. Avoid processed sandwich meats, which are high in sodium and saturated fats; opt instead for leftover grilled, lean meat such as chicken, turkey or fish.
Making a hearty soup for lunch is an excellent way to use up leftover vegetables. Soups are filling and prevent you from overeating, but many restaurant dishes and canned soups contain high amounts of fats and salt. Make your own low-fat and low-sodium stock by boiling vegetables or lean meat and adding whole grains such as barley or brown rice. Creamy soups often have added milk, cream, butter and cheeses. Limit these high-fat foods; instead, add skim milk or pureed cauliflower, potatoes or corn to make a cream-based soup. Skim milk contains 85 calories per 8 ounces, while the same amount of whole milk contains 150. Add kidney beans for protein, soluble fiber and a high dose of antioxidants. Flavor your soup with dried or fresh herbs such as cloves and coriander instead of adding salt.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Fiber
- Parenting.com: 8 Flat-Belly Foods
- University of California San Francisco Medical Center: Guidelines for a Low Cholesterol, Low Saturated Fat Diet
- MayoClinic.com: Omega-3 in Fish: How Eating Fish Helps Your Heart
- MayoClinic.com: Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics
Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.