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Lunch Strategies for Work

The Best Choices When You Don't Have Time to Pack

-- By Rebecca Pratt, Staff Writer

If you've read "Fun and Filling Lunches To-Go" then you already have some great ideas for packing a healthy, filling, and tasty lunch. But some days, packing your own meal isn't an option. When you're not able to brown-bag it, don’t let that excuse derail your healthy diet! Instead, make smart choices:

  • If your only option is fast food, pick a broiled chicken breast sandwich, but skip the high-fat sauces. Or, try the salad bar, but keep portions of dressing, cheese, and high-fat meats (like pepperoni) under control. Limit mayonnaise salads, including coleslaw, potato, egg and chicken salads. Beware of all-you-can-eat “deals” that will sabotage your hard-won healthy choices.
     
  • For appetizers, avoid the crispy, creamy, and cheesy, and go for to broth-based soups or fresh fruit cups. Better yet, pick a healthy appetizer (a thin-crust veggie pizza, for example) as your entrée.
     
  • In choosing an entrée, look for keywords: grilled, steamed, poached, and broiled. Order with special instructions such as light on the sauces or butter, sauce on the side (so you can control the portions), or simply no sauce. "Cajun" or "blackened" items usually make good choices, because they are spicy, but low in fat.
     
  • Keep portion sizes realistic. You may even find it helpful to ask for a to-go box with your order so that you can divide your food immediately after it comes, thus avoiding the temptation to continue nibbling after you’re really full.
     
  • Try to avoid  vending machines. If it’s your only option (or you’re just tempted beyond belief), choose the healthier items: wheat crackers, pretzels, yogurt, string cheese, or dried fruit. If there are no healthy choices—take the initiative! Survey your fellow workers, then submit a respectful request that machines include at least a few healthy items.
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