dietary guidelines

The Neglected Meal!

 A zucchini frittata makes the perfect lunchtime meal - just add some whole grain bread and a milk and you have a lunch that in not to be missed!

A zucchini frittata makes the perfect lunchtime meal - just add some whole grain bread and a milk and you have a lunch that in not to be missed!

Lunch is often neglected in our quest to lose weight as we think that “saving those lunch calories” would make it easier to eat less. In fact the opposite seems to be true - the less we eat during the day, the more we eat at night!

Why eat lunch?

There is much talk about the benefits of eating breakfast and dinner. Lunch on the other hand is a meal that is often neglected. It usually is just a quick sandwich, salad or yogurt or simply a “quick bite”.

Lunch is actually an important meal for everyone. It provides energy and nutrients to keep the body and brain working efficiently through the afternoon. Increasing our consumption of dietary fiber, fruits, vegetables and oily fish is a healthy goal we should all aspire. Having a healthy lunch each day, either packed from home or chosen at restaurant, is a great way to obtain the essential nutrients we need to get from food.

 What is a nutritious lunch?

 The key to a nutritious lunch is variety. Our daily intake of calories and nutrients is best when split over the meals and snacks we eat throughout the day. One way to spread calorie intake over the day is to consume 20% of total calorie intake at breakfast, 30% at lunch, 30% at dinner and 20% for snacks. The calories we consume from drinks is also included in this allowance. Most calories should come from food eaten at meal times rather than from drinks and snacks.

What foods and drink should be included in a packed lunch?

 A healthy, sustaining lunch based around wholegrain, lean proteins, and legumes. Plus the all important fruits and vegetables. Water, milk and milk alternatives make excellent lunchtime beverages.

What happens if you skip lunch?

Skipping lunch may lead to intense feelings of hunger especially if breakfast was not adequate. This can leave you feeling lethargic and “testy” and cause deterioration in your performance at work.

Another risk is that If you go too long without eating, you are likely to eat too much at the next opportunity.  Skipping lunch will catch up with you and may make it harder for you to regulate your eating and weight.

 How to eat lunch

Take at least half an hour to eat lunch in a calm and restful environment with other people if possible. This will help you to digest the food and drink consumed and ready to face the afternoon with renewed energy!

Healthier Protein Sources

 Pasta and Beans an example of a healthier protein choice!

Pasta and Beans an example of a healthier protein choice!

 Most Americans consume substantially more than the Recommended Dietary Allowance  (RDA); these recommended amounts are the average daily requirements for healthy people.  All animal foods and their products, and plant foods such as dry beans, peas, soybeans, nuts and seeds are considered protein sources.  

Too much of a good thing

Eating too much protein has no benefit. Contrary to popular belief, consuming more protein will not result in bigger muscles, stronger bones or increased immunity. Similar to carbohydrates and fats, protein is an energy-yielding nutrient. Such nutrients furnish calories the body needs to carry out its functions. If too many calories are taken in, the extra protein is not stored as protein but rather is converted to and stored as fat.  All excess calories, regardless of the source -- carbohydrate, fat or protein -- are stored as fat.

Consuming high amounts of protein can be bad for your health, especially if you eat a lot of high-fat animal proteins, such as hamburgers and cheese, and few plant proteins. High-fat animal foods contain significant amounts of saturated fat, which raises your level of blood cholesterol and increases your risk of heart disease. Another negative effect when eating too many high protein, high-fat foods is weight gain, from simply consuming too many calories.  

Go for balance

Plant sources of protein (beans, peas, soybeans, nuts and seeds) are a healthier choice. For the most part, they contain less fat and more fiber- although nuts and seeds can be high in fat, it is the healthy kind. Plant foods also contain no cholesterol and are rich in vitamins and minerals. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that the average person consume five and a half ounces of protein foods daily. This intake is based on the premise that individuals consume protein from both animal and plant sources.

 Balance your protein sources and make meals healthier. Several times a week make plant protein, such as beans, the centerpiece of your plate and use animal-based protein in small quantities to embellish. Instead of macaroni and cheese try pasta and beans; make hummus or bean dip spread your sandwich filling in place of deli meats, beans and tuna fish is an combination; when dining out order a complete main dish such as chicken broccoli and ziti.    

Protein is certainly vital for proper growth and to keeping our bodies in good working form. To obtain the benefits of this essential nutrient and minimize the damage of the high-fat sources, balance your choices of protein-rich foods.  Keep protein harmony on your plate and give both lean animal and plant foods equal billing.   

Little Big Shift

    The lunch menu listed - California Vegetable Pizza - I ordered it as -  No Cheese California Vegetable Pizza,  with a side of Spinach-Quinoa Salad, dressing on the side. I enjoyed a great 3 hour lunch with my dear friend Sarah at California Pizza Kitchen - MarketStreet Lynnfield, this week.   

 The lunch menu listed - California Vegetable Pizza - I ordered it as -  No Cheese California Vegetable Pizza,  with a side of Spinach-Quinoa Salad, dressing on the side. I enjoyed a great 3 hour lunch with my dear friend Sarah at California Pizza Kitchen - MarketStreet Lynnfield, this week.   

Little Big Shift: to reduce risk factors.

Risk factors are things in your life that increase your probability of getting a disease. Making small daily shifts in  food choices can help reset and decrease  risk factors.

The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasize building a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. Eating patterns can be described as the combination of foods and beverages that make up the food you eat over time.  Think of a food choice as an opportunity to move toward a healthier way of eating to reduce risk factors.  Consistent small shifts in food choices - over the course of a week, a day, or even a meal - can make a big difference in your risk factor for developing a  disease.  

 Join Delicious Simplicity Lifestyle Plan, an easy and practical plan everyone can follow. We all want to: Be Healthy, Get Healthy, Stay Healthy!

Good Health, Great Living,

Anna