Simple Swaps for Success – Lunch

I hope you found the Nourished and Content – Stay on Track This Holiday Season series to be helpful! I made action-oriented worksheets for each post, so be sure to head over to the Free Resource Library to grab your copies and start taking action today. Plus, it’s not too late to grab your intuitive and mindful eating workbook to get a jump start before 2020.

Since the last series is wrapped up, I figured I’d continue on with another Simple Swaps for Success. This week is all about LUNCH.

Lunch is an interesting meal. It’s usually right in the middle of a work day, at a time when we need a break but also realize how much more needs to be done before we leave. The default is often to eat in front of a computer to get just a few more pieces of work done that would otherwise be tagged on to the end of the day. If you’re anything like me, lunch is a love-hate relationship. I often wish I could just keep working and check more off my list. At the same time, my brain and body need a break to regroup and energize for the hours ahead.

Honestly, lunch is an extremely important meal that we need to be more thoughtful and intentional about. I recently posted about this on SheMD – click here to read it! It is easy to think we don’t need a break. That we can power through, even if that means eating in front of the computer. Have you ever noticed what happens when you do this? Maybe one of these resonates with you:

  • You don’t enjoy any of your food
  • You don’t actually get much of any work done because you’re busy trying to eat way too fast
  • You overeat to the point that you feel stuffed and tired
  • You get that 2pm crash that follows an hour or so later – the kind when you can’t keep your eyes open, despite a fresh cup of coffee
  • You find yourself snacking all afternoon long
  • You can’t seem to focus on your work mid-afternoon; social media, email and less important tasks keep creeping in and destroy

Do any of those resonate with you? If so, you’re in luck! First, head over to my recent post about Taking Back the Meal to start being more intentional during lunch. Then continue on below for 3 ways to add more nutrition to your lunch so you can stay full and focused all afternoon long. The recipes listed in each section could easily be put in any of the three sections, so don’t worry – everything listed here is a great option for lunch!

Simple Swap for Success 1: Stay Fuller Longer

Kimchi Burrito- a vegetarian Korean inspired Burrito

No one wants to eat lunch and then be hungry a hour later. We’re all busy and the idea of having to set aside MORE time to eat is just frustrating. The keys to staying full longer are:

  • more fiber
  • enough calories
  • include fat and protein

These things can be incorporated into any meal you have in mind. Ask yourself – is there fiber? fat? protein? If you answer yes, you’re likely going to feel full and satisfied well into the afternoon. Try these lunch options out:

  1. 30 min BBQ Chicken Salad by Joyful Healthy Eats
  2. Roasted Squash Fall Salad by Lean Green Bean
  3. Kimchi Burritos by Feasting at Home
  4. Vegan Winter Lentil Stew by Budget Bytes
  5. Chicken and Quinoa Salad Bowl by Kitchen Sanctuary

Simple Swap for Success 2: Avoid Mid-Afternoon Fatigue

This Pulled Pork Fajita Salad is the perfect way to transform leftover pulled pork into a healthy new lunch or dinner. A pineapple black bean salsa and a light cilantro-lime dressing add extra flavor!

Let’s say you listened to my advice above and made sure to load up on lunch so you can avoid having to snack all afternoon long. But sometimes, a hearty lunch leads to the dreaded mid-afternoon fatigue. You know what I mean – the time when you wish you lived in Spain so you could take a little Siesta and just nap for a few minutes? This often happens because of a peak and subsequent crash of your blood sugars (you can read more about that here). So how do you to ward this off? Try to limit simple sugars and low-fiber carbs. Here are a few examples:

  • If you eat fruit, only eat whole fruit and stick to 1 serving. Berries are the best option.
  • Avoid artificial sweetener – some people are sensitive to this and despite it having no actual sugar, it can trigger an insulin release anyway.
  • Skip dessert. Try to consider saying it for after dinner instead of mid-day.
  • Choose whole wheat grains instead of low-fiber options

The recipes in simple swap #1 will work great, but here are a few examples you’ll need to check out. These options take a craving for a food-crashing meal and turn it into something that will keep you satisfied and alert all afternoon:

  1. Instead of traditional chicken salad, check out Healthy Chicken Salad by Two Healthy Kitchens
  2. Instead of a traditional restaurant burger, skip the bun and try out these Paleo Burgers by Joyful Healthy Eats
  3. Instead of standard fajitas, try out Pulled Pork Fatija Salad by Lean Green Bean
  4. Instead of fries or nachos, try out Loaded Mexican-Style Carrot Fries by Kitchen Sanctuary
  5. Instead of a cheese steak, try this Cheesesteak Flatbread by Mom to Mom Nutrition.

Simple Swap for Success 3: Fill You Nutritional Tank

Sweet and Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Tip # 3 is all about getting the most nutritional bang for your buck! We can’t eat perfectly all the time (and I don’t recommend it…it usually backfires). Instead of giving yourself a hard time, try to eat well from the start of the day onward; this will help you have more flexibility when dinner rolls around. These recipes help you squeeze in some extra nutrition at lunch so you can feel good about your decision but also enjoy it too! These sides pair great with any traditional lunch item and help balance out the meal.

  1. Sweet and Spicy Butternut Squash Soup by Running in the Kitchen
  2. Broccoli Pesto Quinoa Salad by Love and Lemons
  3. Mediterranean Chickpea Salad by Love & Lemons (I’d add chicken!)
  4. Greek Goddess Lettuce Wraps by Half Baked Harvest
  5. Easy Minestrone Soup by Making Thyme for Health

Need more ideas? In my search for a few recipes I found tons of healthy recipe compilations. Here are a few to get you started:

Need more ideas? In my search for a few recipes I found tons of healthy recipe compilations. Here are a few to get you started:

  1. 25 delicious lunches on Feasting at Home
  2. 16 chicken salad recipes on Joyful Healthy Eats
  3. Healthy Vegetarian Meal Plans by Joanne Eats Well With Others (she does these weekly!
  4. Over 15 Healthy Meal Plans that are kid-approved by the Lean Green Bean
  5. 54 Healthy Lunch Ideas by Sweet Peas and Saffron
  6. 51 Healthy Lunch Ideas by Cooking Light
  7. 21 Bento Box Ideas by Fit Foodie Finds (great for kids!)

That’s all for this month’s Simple Swaps! I hope you found some inspiration to make your lunch nutritious and delicious. Which recipe is your favorite? What’s your go-to lunch? What tip did you find most helpful? Leave it below!

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