Lunch is arguably the most difficult meal to eat clean. You're usually away from home and your well-stocked pantry, and often confronted with less-than-awesome cafeteria or fast-food options—not to mention your coworker's famous chocolate chip cookies that she feels the need to make on a biweekly basis.
That's why packing your own lunch is key in maintaining a clean diet. But it's not as simple as throwing whatever you have in a paper bag. Here, we'll explain just what a clean, healthy, filling lunch looks like along with some quick and easy ideas:
1. Protein, always.
For maximum nutrition and to stay fuller for longer, pack lunches that contain a lean protein (chicken, tempeh, tuna salad), some high-quality fat (nuts, seeds, avocado), and complex carbs (fruits, veggies, quinoa, brown rice).
2. Don't skip snacks.
Don't kid yourself—you can't get through the day without snacks. Toss a few high-nutrient picks, or high-protein snacks, in your lunch box so you don't end up at the vending machine.
Pack a big water bottle and set it right on your desk at work. Refill it a few times each day, so you're not tempted to drink a soda or juice, and this way you'll fool yourself into drinking more water. Can't take it flat? Stock up on some naturally flavored seltzer.
4. Re-make your sandwich.
Build a cleaner sandwich by making it on whole-grain bread and loading it with fresh veggies, a clean version of your favorite protein, and a low-sugar condiment.
5. Go random.
Build a "kitchen sink" salad, and load up a large portable container with your favorite organic greens along with whatever veggies, protein, nuts, and dried fruit you have on hand. Find out how to create a memorable salad, that's more than just lettuce and croutons, and top it all off with a simple homemade vinaigrette of oil, vinegar, and herbs.
6. Get unconventional with your lunch.
Want a lower-carb sandwich? Wrap up your protein in a kale or Swiss chard leaf. Want to skip the sandwich altogether? Top a roasted sweet potato with leftover veggies and a drizzle of olive oil for a clean take on a loaded baked potato.
Original article by Editors of Prevention appears on Rodale Wellness
Photo by Maki Stock / Adobe