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Your lunchtime habits can make or break your weight loss plans. Fast food burgers and fries often contain more calories and bad fat than you need for the entire day, but there are many simple options that will satisfy your hunger without putting on extra pounds.

Your midday meal can be delicious and nutritious without requiring a lot of money or time. Start with these ideas for using your lunch hour to help you slim down.

Bringing Your Lunch:

1. Prepare the night before. If you spend most mornings rushing around to get everyone ready for school and work, give yourself a head start. Look for recipes you can make before you go to bed, like putting your smoothie ingredients in a blender jar in the refrigerator so you can just hit a button in the morning.

2. Start from scratch. Bringing frozen pizza to work is really the same as ordering take out or eating fast food. Switch to whole foods and home cooking.

3. Focus on plants. Try to get at least half your calories from vegetables and fruits. Enjoy a variety of salads, sandwiches, soups, and other dishes.

4. Master the microwave. Do you yearn for a hot meal? Pack an insulated lunch bag with thermos containers of chili or homemade soup, or leftover chicken you can quickly heat up at noon.

Going Out for Lunch:

5. Seek support. Studies show that we tend to consume more calories at a restaurant if we’re with companions who indulge too. Invite your coworkers to make a pact to order lighter dishes.

6. Check the menu. What if the choices are limited to cheesesteak and Buffalo wings? Go online before you visit a new restaurant to ensure they serve something that’s more healthy for you.

7. Eat soup. Whether you prefer tomato or chicken soup (without noodles), you’ll find that most lunch spots offer some kind of soup. Soup helps you to slow down so you may feel full while eating less.

8. Inspect your salad. Some salads turn out to be the most fattening item on the menu. Go easy on the bacon, cheese, and creamy dressings. Leave off the croutons entirely and have that salad dressing served on the side. Restaurant salad dressings tend to be loaded with sugar, so if you like blue cheese, that’s a better option because it usually doesn’t contain sugar. It pays to ask.

9. Ask for substitutions. You might enjoy your favorite lunch dishes just as much with less sugar, fat, and salt. Some restaurants have no substitution policies, but many will be happy to accommodate you.

10. Bring back leftovers. Serving sizes are often massive in restaurants. Push half your food to the side of the plate so you can take it home for dinner or lunch tomorrow. Or better yet, ask for the to-go container as soon as your meal is served. Put half in the box and set it aside. (Just remember to take it with you when you leave!)

Other Ideas:

11. Stay on schedule. Skipping breakfast or lunch to save calories will probably backfire. You usually wind up so hungry that you raid the vending machine or overeat at your next meal.

12. Eat mindfully. Paying attention to your food encourages you to make healthier choices and enjoy your meals more. Leave your desk for lunch. Sit down someplace where you can relax and forget about the office for a while. Get a free copy of How to Lose Weight Without Really Trying for ideas for mindful eating.

13. Walk around. Prolonged sitting contributes to obesity and back pain. Use your lunch hour to stroll around the block or climb the stairs.

14. Visit the gym. Check out the gyms near your office. Your employer might be able to negotiate a group discount if you and your co-workers want to work out during the day when they’re less busy.

15. Take a class. Similarly, many fitness centers offer group classes at lunchtime designed to get employees back to work on time. An hour of cycling followed by a smoothie may give you more energy for the rest of the afternoon.

Enjoy a light and scrumptious midday meal each day of the week. Healthy lunch habits will help you lose weight and shape up.

And, if you’re finding it hard to make positive changes in your life and you have “bad” habits you want to break, then schedule a time for us to chat about it. I probably have solutions that will not only fit in your budget, move you along faster than you would on your own, get rid of sugar and food cravings, and help you to, once and for all, get to the bottom of your weight and health challenges. And if you’re diabetic, we really should talk. I got off insulin and other drugs after years of dealing with that. Let’s talk.

Marty Marsh

Hi! I’m Marty Marsh, Your Lifestyle & Wellness Coach specializing in helping you relax, rest, and heal. I make habit change fun, easy and sustainable for a lifetime of great health and happiness.
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