How to Make a Healthier Lunch

Lunch tray filled with healthy meal
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Do you need diet-friendly lunch ideas for work or home? Sometimes that mid-afternoon meal can make you feel fat and sleepy. But it doesn't have to be that way. If you take a few minutes to learn how to prepare a healthy lunch, you'll set yourself up to feel stronger and more energized throughout the entire afternoon.

Making a Healthy Lunch

A healthy lunch will satisfy your hunger at meal time. But it should also keep you feeling full through the late afternoon slump when we are often tempted to snack. So how do you prepare a meal that will keep your cravings under control? There are three essential components to include:

  • Lean protein. If you build your lunch around a healthy source of protein, you'll help to keep your diet on track in two different ways. First, protein takes longer to eat and longer for your body to digest. So a protein-rich meal will last longer while you're eating it, and it will keep you feeling full longer as well. Also, protein helps to build and maintain metabolism-boosting muscle mass. You turn your body into a more effective calorie-burning machine when you eat protein.
  • Hunger-busting fiber. High-fiber foods are a great source of diet-friendly energy. Eating fiber is similar to eating protein in that it takes longer for your body to digest. So fiber helps you to feel full for a longer period of time. If you choose a low-calorie, fiber-rich bread for your sandwich or fill your salad bowl with foods that are high in fiber you set yourself up to make healthier snack choices later in the day. You'll be less likely to indulge in high-sugar junk foods if you don't feel compromised by hunger.
  • Healthy hydration. I know it's hard, but skip the caffeinated and sugar-filled sodas at lunch. Of course, they are not great for your body at any hour of the day, but they can be especially problematic around noon. Why? Because even though they may provide a quick boost of energy in the short run, they may leave you dehydrated and zapped of energy later in the day. Drink plain or flavored water instead.

Best Tips for a Healthy Lunch

Follow a few simple rules to make a lunch that will keep your diet on track.

  • Make your lunch at home. Smart dieters make lunch at home and bring it with them to work. In fact, according to eating expert Brian Wansink, you're most likely to pack a healthy lunch if you prepare it right after you eat dinner so that you're not hungry when you're making food choices for the next afternoon's meal.  
  • Don't eat lunch at your desk. What's the worst place you can eat your lunch? At your desk. There are several reasons why and several other good options for healthy places to eat. 
  • Plan ahead if you eat out. Eating lunch at a restaurant won't completely derail your diet, but you should know what you are going to eat before you enter the restaurant — especially if you are eating with others. That way you won't make a hasty, distracted decision that will ruin your diet for the day.
  • Pair protein and veggies. To get muscle-building benefits and a comfortable feeling of fullness throughout the day, pair a single serving of lean protein with veggies to make a simple, satisfying lunch. A bowl of soup or salad will do the job or grab a ready-to-eat protein snack with a piece of fresh fruit. You can also make a diet-friendly smoothie, or eat a protein snack bar if you're in a rush.


If you have time to cook, these are some great healthy lunch recipes that you'll love.

Remember, it's worth the effort to prepare any healthy lunch recipe and follow simple, healthy lunch tips. With a little bit of advanced planning and organization, you can create a meal that will set you up for a productive and energized afternoon.

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