Breakfast might be known as the most important meal of the day. However, lunch is the meal we all look forward to the most. That midday oasis between the long morning and workday afternoon is a delicious reward for completing half of the day. Make your lunch break equally rewarding for your health and weight loss success with our seven healthy tips.
1. Step away from your screen.
Working through lunch (or scrolling through your social media feed while you munch) can make your meal less satisfying and filling. When dieters are distracted, they need more taste sensations to feel satiated by a meal. However, when they focus on the flavors, sweetness, saltiness, crunchiness and other sensations of the foods they’re eating, they’re more satisfied with less food and less sweetness in that food. Scientists refer to this as “mindful eating.” Multiple diet plan studies have found that the technique improves weight loss results even when eaters aren’t directly focused on their calorie count. Click here to learn more about mindful eating. >
Eating without your screen can also help lower disease risk and help you feel less hungry later in the day. A three-month study out of Ohio State found that patients with Type 2 diabetes significantly lowered their blood sugar by eating mindfully. A British study also found that mindful dieters not only ate less at the distraction-free meal but also downed fewer calories the rest of the day.
So, step away from your desk, pocket your mobile phone and concentrate on your food… even if it’s just for a few minutes. Your social media feed and your afternoon work will still be there when you’re done.
2. While you’re away from your desk, move!
Getting out of your chair is one of the best things you can do for your long-term health. For office workers, long days of sitting may literally be killing us. In one study from Louisiana, scientists found that people who sit half the day were 54 percent more likely to die of a heart attack, says Time Magazine. Another study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that sitting for more than four hours per day increases your risk of death by 11 percent. And most of us do sit that long: According to the American Heart Association, the average American under 60 spends six to eight hours sitting each day.
Your lunch break is a great time to start cutting into that time on your tush. Take a short walk as a low-impact cardio workout alternative. Even if it’s just around the office or the block, walks as short as two minutes throughout the day can get your blood pumping. If you have a little more time, a 20 to 30-minute walk or a 15-minute workout with no equipment can help you crush the rest of the afternoon. According to Healthline, exercise has the ability to boost your mood, increase energy, improve your sleep quality and decrease the risk of disease. Learn more from our health and wellness experts at The Leaf on how you can enjoy a 10-minute workout during your lunch break! >
3. Measure your portions when you’re packing.
Your lunch may be a midday reward. However, it should also keep you moving towards your weight loss and health goals. If you’re guessing and eyeballing portion sizes as you put together your meal before work, you could wind up overeating. In a study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists studied how people estimate portion size. They found that participants were wrong about half of the time. “Over-reporting was typical for cereals in both genders and for snacks, vegetables and fruit in women,” says the researchers.
Nutrisystem lunch foods and snacks can help, of course. They’re pre-portioned to fit your weight loss plan and filled with good-for-you nutrients. They are sure to fill you up and keep you feeling full long into the afternoon. Get your taste buds watering with these top 15 popular Nutrisystem lunches that are perfect for your next lunch break!
4. Load up the veggies.
One thing you don’t have to measure are non-starchy vegetables. On Nutrisystem, these low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods are unlimited, meaning you can have as many as you want on your diet without counting or slowing your weight loss success. In fact, eating more can actually speed up your progress. According to ScienceDaily, Penn State research found that eating more water-rich foods (such as non-starchy vegetables) can help you consume fewer calories while staying full and satisfied.
Vegetables don’t just provide you with water: They also have fiber. According to ScienceDaily, a study out of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found, “for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber eaten per day, visceral fat was reduced by 3.7 percent over five years.”
Oh, and you might look a little healthier after eating all those veggies, too: In a study, published in PLOS One, scientists found that eating more vegetables for just six weeks helped participants have healthier-looking skin with a more “attractive” hue.
5. Eat with a coworker or friend.
Sure, we’re all “connected” thanks to social media. However, many of those apps may actually make us feel more isolated. According to research, published in the journal Science, social isolation can actually reduce your overall life expectancy and “is a major risk factor for mortality.”
Having lunch with a coworker not only helps you feel connected but can also help with your work. In a study on firefighters, published in Human Performance, researchers found that eating together may help improve your ability to communicate and collaborate at work. Use your lunch break as an opportunity to strengthen work relationships and network with coworkers.
6. Heading out? Check the menu first.
Planning ahead and researching the restaurant menu can help you order with confidence. You’ll know which lunch options at the restaurant will fit your weight loss goals, so you can order something you want that fits your plan without stress. If your normal lunch place doesn’t list the nutrition facts for its menu online, you can suggest everyone try a new, exciting place. Look for a restaurant that just happens to list a few meals you know will fit your taste buds and your plan. Learn more about dining out for lunch while maintaining your healthy goals! >
7. Fill your water bottle on the way back to your desk or workstation.
Drinking water can help you burn more calories. According to Medical News Today, a study found that people who drank around 17 ounces of water burned up three percent more calories in the following 90 minutes. Plus, drinking water can keep you from confusing thirst for hunger, meaning your satisfaction from lunch will last longer. Keep water at your desk to quench your thirst and help you reach your weight loss goals. Fill that bottle on your way back from lunch to stay full, stay productive and keep burning calories all afternoon. Watch this helpful wellness video from The Leaf and learn some simple hydration hacks for your workday! >