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Healthy Lunch Ideas: Finding Balance

Posted: August 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Balanced Lunch, Bento | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Balanced Lunch

How does your lunch match up? When packing a lunch, it helps to know some useful ratios to have a healthy balance of foods for the day. It’s as simple as remembering 3-2-1.

If you are considering calories, your lunch should clock in between 400-500 calories, up to 600-700 if you are participating in some sort of vigorous exercise or if you are a hungry guy. These are rough guidelines, and really, more important that calories, try following the ratio method to balance your lunch.

With a ratio of 3-2-1 (three parts slow release carbs, two parts veg/fruit, and one part lean protein), you can avoid having to count calories – because your calories will be roughly the amount of ml of your given container. For example, if you have a 500 ml container, using this ratio and choosing foods that aren’t fried or fatty, you will have about 500 calories of food in your lunch. It’s not a perfect science, but comes pretty close. 3-2-1 ratio isn’t for everyone, some people might like to have more vegetables, or a little bit more protein, but it’s a pretty good bet that you will have a filling meal if you stick close to it.

What is in my lunchbox?

  • Carbohydrate: Slow releasing grains such as brown rice, bulgur wheat, cous cous, quinoa, wild rice, farro, buckwheat noodles, or whole wheat pasta – to provide energy throughout the day.
  • Protein: Lean meats such as chicken, fish, turkey meatballs, hardboiled eggs, cheese (keep in mind that this one has fat, so use in moderation.)
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Taste the rainbow. It’s silly, but it really makes the point – I try to eat as many colors of fruits and vegetables in each lunch as I can – usually about 3-4 different servings to vary things up. I usually will have a little leftover vegetable from dinner, and supplement it with some freshly cut veg.
  • Water: Don’t forget to hydrate! I always bring a water bottle that I refill throughout the day. I also will stash tea bags in my bag, particularly if your office has a way to heat water and drink green tea all day long. If you like them, consider those little crystal light packages if you don’t like the taste of water (some people don’t!). Also, call me crazy, I like hot water with a little bit of lemon or fresh ginger. Hydrating and delicious!
  • Afternoon snack: I always tuck an afternoon snack in with my main lunch, because even if I have had a well balanced meal, I often find myself hungry as the day dwindles. You can eat a small handful of nuts, or a piece of fruit, and it’s remarkable how quickly it will pep you back up.

How do you keep balance in your lunch? Any tricks to get in those fruits and vegetables?

Photo: Pontuse
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One Comment on “Healthy Lunch Ideas: Finding Balance”

  1. 1 Jennifer@OrangePolkaDot said at 2:46 pm on September 2nd, 2009:

    Wonderful blog. I look forward to your recipes and reviews of lunch boxes.

    The link I included with my name above links to my blog post about children’s school lunches in Barcelona. We recently moved to Spain from California several months ago. Since living here, making a packed lunch for my children has broadened my lunch ideas.


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