It's kind of a trip, what inspired me to cover this particular topic. While I was doing some of my usual online perusing, a particular Twitter post was brought to my attention. I really want you to watch it; however, if you're skimming this, the gist is that — surprise, surprise — a main reason why so many of us think that we should have three square meals a day is because (eye roll), back in the day, Europeans thought it was "uncivilized" that Native Americans ate when they felt like it rather than be on some sort of a schedule.
The more you know, chile. The more you know. Anyway, if after watching that, you first got a little pissed off and then breathed a sigh of relief because a) maybe breakfast ain't really your thing and/or b) you tend to go with a much lighter dinner and/or c) you like lunch most or even least of all, I still think this article may provide some additional ah-ha moments. Because whether you eat three meals, two smoothies and one meal or some variation in between these options, if you've ever had some lingering questions in the back of your mind about the true purpose that lunch can serve in your life and/or you've been wondering how to make the most of your lunchtime, hopefully this can "scratch that itch". At least a little bit.
Why You Should Eat Lunch
As someone who isn't that much of a breakfast person myself (I'll typically make myself a smoothie or have some fruit; I only really do a big breakfast on the weekends and even that's not all of the time), I usually don't even think about eating for real for real until around what's considered to be the traditional lunchtime (between 11:30 a.m. -1 p.m. for me). The reason is because it's not until then that I'm actually hungry.
Yet when I looked up why eating lunch can be a wise move on the health tip, what I discovered is it's a great way to give your mind and body time to rest and recharge, so that you can be productive throughout the rest of your day.
So y'all, if you're like some of the people I know who work through their legal-right-to-partake-of-lunch period, you really should rethink that. Even if you treat your lunch as I do my breakfast (and you have something super light), the time away can actually help you to be more effective at your job. In fact, a lot of health experts say that if you don't take at least 15-20 minutes to recharge by getting some sort of fuel into your system, it can make you moody, lethargic and cause you to have a really difficult time concentrating. So yeah, take your lunch period seriously. Literally too.
What Time of Day Should You Be Eating Lunch?
As far as the time of day when you should enjoy your lunch, I did some looking around and found some interesting points from various registered dieticians. What many of them said was if you had a full breakfast at around 7:30-8 a.m., you should feel satisfied until around 11 a.m.-12 p.m. And what if you ate at a different time than that?
Well, the main takeaway is about 4-5 hours from when you had breakfast is a good time to have lunch.
And what if you didn't have much breakfast or you skipped out on it altogether? In that case, the recommendation is to have a low-calorie snack that can help you to feel satisfied for at least an hour or two (so that your energy levels are up until your lunch period). OK, and what if you decide to skip lunch and wait for dinner? Well, aside from what I shared about the benefits that come from having something for lunch, there is plenty of data to support that going light in the morning and afternoon and having a big dinner not only significantly increases the chances of you consuming way more calories than you should but it can also make it difficult for you to sleep soundly because your body is trying to digest all of that stuff that you just ate. That's why a lot of health professionals also recommend that you stop eating within three hours of your intended bedtime.
So, you know what all of this points too, right? More and more, it's looking like eating lunch is a good idea; especially if you're someone who enjoys having a heartier meal but you want to keep your weight in check and your sleep consistent.
Lunch Hacks That Make Eating (at Work) Easier
So, what if, after taking all of this in, you're down to give lunch more of a shot yet you feel like making your lunch instead of avoiding the drive-thru (check out "Why You Should Consider Leaving Fast Food Alone") is going to be more of a prepping headache than you can handle? No problem. I've got a few hacks for that.
Make the most out of cupcake cases (liners). Wanna keep different foods better organized? You'd be shocked what some cupcake cases can do. For instance, if you've got a container that doesn't have dividers, there's no need to purchase one. Just pick up some cases and put different things in those. Everything will be in its "rightful place" without you having to spend extra coins to make it happen.
Play around with muffin tins. Here's the thing about muffin tins — you can put more than just muffins in them. Little omelets. Mini quiches. Fritters. Tiny shepherd's pies. Small mac 'n cheeses. When you let your imagination run wild, the possibilities really are endless. And since these kinds of meals will be in muffin tins, they're super easy to take to work with you.
Put salads in mason jars. Wanna take a salad or burrito bowl to work but you're afraid that it'll get soggy? One of the best hacks ever is to put it into a mason jar. The seal will keep everything fresh. The size of the jar will help you with portion control. And just think about how convenient bringing a jar into work will be when you've got so much other stuff to lug around.
Remember that paper towels absorb moisture. Speaking of sogginess and the way to avoid it, whether it's a salad in a different kind of container or you're going the raw veggie route with some other type of dish, you can also keep stuff from wilting by putting one sheet of a paper towel on the bottom of your container and another on top (after you've put your food inside of it). It has a way of drawing in the excess moisture when you do. By the way, wax paper does a pretty good job at this when it comes to sandwiches too.
Keep oil and vinegar at your desk. Infused oil and vinegar jars are actually very pretty to look at. So, if you're someone who uses a lot of both when you're having lunch, pick up some tall bottles at a local arts and crafts store (you know, the ones that come with a cork), pour the oil and vinegar into them and store them on your desk. How handy is that?
Get drink pouches for smoothies. If you're someone who goes the big breakfast route yet reading all of this has convinced you to at least have a smoothie for lunch, don't break the bank (and take in a ton of calories) by purchasing one every day. Instead, pick up some smoothie pouches. They're compact. Reusable. And since you'll be making your smoothies yourself, you can control exactly what's going into them.
Freeze stuff. As far as prepping for the week goes, freezing rice, quinoa and soups are always a good idea. Putting a frozen fruit box into your lunch container can keep stuff like yogurt cool. Frozen grapes are a great snack for your desk. Bottom line, freezers are your friend when it comes to enjoying your lunch, so don't be afraid to use them — whether you have lunch at 11 or 2.
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