23 Quick & Easy Ideas for a Healthy Lunch + 3 Recipes
Healthy lunch? For many people, they simply skip a healthy lunch or don’t eat at all. Or they take their lunchbox with some slices of white bread with a sweet topping.
Possibly supplemented with yogurt drink or a bottle of soft drink.
The idea may seem good, but lunch can be much healthier.
In this article, I tell you where a healthy lunch should consist of and I give you several healthy lunch tips.
What you will learn is:
- What you absolutely must NOT eat and drink during the afternoon
- Or a healthy lunch can help with weight loss
- 10+ ideas for a healthy lunch
- Different healthy lunch tips
- 3 delicious and healthy lunch recipes
The Importance of a Healthy Lunch
You may wonder, what is the importance of lunch? Eating a healthy lunch is important for various reasons.
A healthy lunch gives you the energy to get through the afternoon.
If you do not like breakfast, then lunch is your first meal of the day. That makes a healthy lunch even more important.
I give you a few reasons why you should value a healthy lunch.
Reason # 1: A Healthy Lunch Prevents Snacking
A healthy lunch reduces the chances of snacking later in the day. It is a well-known phenomenon that you will have a good snack if you do not bring lunch, or if your lunch is not enough.
People are more likely to eat unhealthy if no healthy food is available. Preparing your own meals at home ensures that you stick to your diet. This saves both your money and calories because most canteen foods consist of unhealthy foods and empty calories.
For example, a piece of milk chocolate can contain as much carbohydrate like a banana, but banana also contains potassium, vitamins and a lot of dietary fiber. Milk chocolate does not have these nutrients.
In addition, make sure that your lunch is not only healthy, but also filling. And if you still suffer from a grinding stomach when the clock strikes 4 hours, make sure you still have a healthy snack with you.
Reason # 2: A Healthy Lunch Gives You Energy
A lunch consisting of healthy food products ensures that you can still function efficiently during the day.
In addition, a healthy, filling lunch is very important, without sweeteners. Because if you get a lot of simple (refined) carbohydrates, then your blood sugar levels will rise significantly. In response to this, your body starts producing insulin, which does not benefit fat burning again.
Especially people who perform heavy physical work every day have an interest in a healthy lunch. You need energy and important nutrients to concentrate, to have the power to lift those heavy crates, etc.
If you do this kind of hard labor, then a healthy breakfast and healthy lunch are extra important, because you simply need more energy.
Reason # 3: A Healthy Lunch Helps To Keep Your Blood Sugar Level Stable
Carbohydrates that you eat are converted into blood sugar (glucose) in your body. The more simple carbohydrates you eat, the greater the chance that it will be stored as fat because your body will no longer have the chance to burn the surplus.
Carbohydrates in liquid forms, such as soft drinks, are absorbed even faster than simple carbohydrates in solid foods. That makes this kind of drinks a no-go for a healthy lunch.
Your blood sugar level rises, insulin is created, and you then quickly end up in a dip again. Even deeper than before. So you are “forced” to go to the vending machine again.
Not only is this the first step towards conditions such as insulin resistance (pre-stage of type 2 diabetes), it also causes (extra) excess weight, which increases the risk of diabetes.
A study in 175 countries showed that there is a clear correlation between the consumption of sugar and diabetes type 2 (source).
Especially for weight loss and keeping your target weight, it is important that lunch looks healthy.
Bring Your Own Healthy Lunch? Avoid These Products
I have given you a few important reasons why a healthy lunch is important for your health and body weight.
We are going to talk about quick and simple ideas for a healthy lunch. But first I go deeper into an unhealthy lunch. Because what is an unhealthy lunch?
Below I give you a list of food that you should avoid if you want to eat healthily and especially if you also want to drop off:
The following food products do not fit in a healthy lunch:
It is not surprising that people think so since it is natural and seems to contain fruits.
What many people do not realize is that fruit juices are jam-packed with sugars. In fact, fruit juice contains as much sugar and calories as a sweet soda, and sometimes even more! (source).
Probably you look very surprised now, because fruit juices are good for your health? Every day an orange juice for your breakfast or at lunch was still a good choice?
The fruit juices in the store are often sweetened extra, which is not healthy for your blood sugar level and your body weight. The small amounts of vitamins and antioxidants in the juice do not make up a large amount of sugar.
The manufacturers make it even more confusing by not always being honest about what’s in their products.
The fruit juice that you find in the supermarket is not what you think it is. It is labeled as ‘100% pure’, but it is not. After the juice has been squeezed out of the fruit and the dietary fibers have been removed, the juice is usually stored in huge storage tanks several months before it is packaged.
The problem with this process is that it removes the taste of juices, allowing manufacturers to add sweeteners and sugars to reduce the taste lost during processing.
And the juices that are not sweetened, and only contain their own sugars, are also quickly and very inefficiently absorbed by your body. That means that even the most expensive fruit juices in the supermarket no longer resemble freshly squeezed fruit juices. They are in fact sweetened drinks with fruit flavor.
Are you going for a healthy lunch? Do not drink fruit juice anymore!
It is better to eat a fruit piece yourself or to put it in the blender. You get the same sugars, but with the fruit’s dietary fibers the sugars are absorbed much slower by your body and you do not get any peaks and valleys in your blood sugar level.
You’ve probably had drunk yogurt breakfast drink before. I also thought that these kinds of yogurt drinks were healthy until I once read the nutritional value on the label.
These yogurt drinks are full of sugars, no less than 43 grams of sugars per 500 ml! In addition, the taste of the strawberry does not come from the tasty red fruit, but from artificial sweeteners.
If you still want to eat dairy, it is best to look for unsweetened, Greek yogurt. For Greek yogurt, go to a health shop or to a bio store. There the products are often (h) honest and fresh, without unnecessary additions.
Snacks and sweets
It is very tempting to go to the snack bar around the corner, but if you want to eat healthily and if you want to lose weight, this is a very bad idea.
Snacks and sweets are full of sugars and empty calories. These food products do not saturate and contain no important nutrients that your body needs to function properly.
Screaming texts printed on it that eating this bar is the healthiest choice. You would think that such a bar fits perfectly with a healthy lunch.
Unfortunately, the name is misleading again. Do not be tempted by energy bars, or energy bars. Look at the back of the package. Exactly, that very fine print in which the ingredients used is described. The sugar content is enormous, not to mention all those unnecessary additions and E-numbers.
Refined Grain Products
For a healthy lunch, it is important to distinguish between whole and refined grains.
Many grains are usually consumed after they have been pulverized into a very fine flour. That makes refined grains unhealthy. They contain no important nutrients and mainly consist of
Important nutrients have been extracted from refined grains, such as fibers, minerals and vitamins. They contain mainly fast carbohydrates (sugars) that are quickly digested by the body.
Do you suffer from overweight? Then you can best leave wheat and other grains and opt for high-protein foods.
This also applies to bread. First of all, white bread is, of course, a big ‘no-go’, but even wholemeal bread you should not eat anymore, or at least to a very limited extent.
Get rid of the idea that bread should be the basis. Be very aware that the bread you buy, even at the bakery, has more additives than you like.
Have you ever thought why one bread gets old faster than the other? Comes through all those preservatives, fats and sugars.
In addition, bread is a bomb of carbohydrates with a very low Glycemic Index (GI). White bread is the bad winner here, but wholemeal bread does not do much better.
What Is A Healthy Lunch?
Lunch can be done in many different ways, but in most cases, people take their lunchbox to work.
There is often a few slices of wholemeal bread with cheese, sweet spreads or meat products.
This is not as healthy as you might think. But what exactly is a healthy lunch?
The basis of a healthy lunch remains the same as that of a healthy breakfast.
A healthy lunch consists of:
- Complex Carbohydrates
- High-Quality Proteins
- Healthy Fats
Especially if you want to lose weight, I advise you to take a protein-rich lunch, supplemented with fats, fiber and slow carbohydrates.
Once you have reached your target weight, you can increase the amount of slow (complex) carbohydrates during the day.
As soon as you notice that you arrive in weight, you reduce the number of slow carbohydrates until you have reached the right amount where you no longer arrive or lose weight.
Healthy Lunch Tips
You just need some more thinking, and the idea of letting go that bread is the basis of your breakfast and your lunch.
Healthy Protein-Rich Lunch Ideas
Let’s start with proteins.
Why does a healthy lunch have to contain a lot of protein? Protein is perhaps the most important macronutrient for weight loss and a leaner body.
Proteins can help you lose weight and lose stubborn belly fat.
By replacing simple carbohydrates and unhealthy fats with high-quality proteins, you inhibit the hunger hormone ghrelin and stimulate different ‘satiety hormones’ that provide a longer, full feeling.
This leads to the automatic loss of calories and is the main reason that proteins help you to lose weight.
What are high protein foods for a healthy lunch?
Protein-rich foods for a healthy lunch
- Beans, lentils, tofu, chickpeas, etc.
Meat / poultry
- Chicken, turkey, steak, beef, bacon
Fish / seafood
- Salmon, mackerel, tuna, shrimps, herring, etc.
- Chestnut mushrooms, shiitakes
- Walnuts, cashew nuts, etc.
Healthy Carbohydrate-Rich Lunch Ideas
A healthy lunch does not mean that you do not consume carbohydrates. Carbohydrates also belong (albeit in limited quantities) in a healthy diet. They provide your body with energy (especially for the brain, carbohydrates are important).
When I talk about carbohydrates, I mean, of course, slow (complex) carbohydrates. Slow carbohydrates contain more nutrients than simple carbohydrates.
Because they contain many dietary fibers, they are absorbed more slowly in the body. This also makes slower carbohydrates more filling, which means they are a better option than fast carbohydrates for weight control.
When I talk about good carbohydrate sources for a healthy lunch, I mean:
Carbohydrate-Rich Foods For A Healthy Lunch
Legumes and Beans
- Kidney beans, white beans, lentils, tofu, etc.
Unprocessed Grains (Whole Grains)
- Quinoa, buckwheat, brown rice, etc.
- Avocado, banana, strawberries, blueberries, apples, raspberries, blackberries, etc.
- Zucchini, cauliflower, sweet potato, onion, tomato, red pepper, red cabbage, cucumber, carrot, lettuce, spinach, etc.
- Note: unprocessed grains remain carbohydrates. It is certainly not advisable to eat them unlimited if you want to lose weight or try to keep your goal weight.
Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet and you can eat unlimited.
A study even shows that every 100 grams of fruit you eat per day is associated with 300 grams of weight loss in 6 months time (source).
Are you looking for more information about carbohydrates? In this article, you can read what carbohydrates are + a table with good and bad varieties.
Healthy High-Fat Lunch Ideas
One of the most common mistakes people make with a healthy diet is that they do not eat enough healthy fats. Fats are often still seen as ‘bad’.
But there is a difference between healthy fats and unhealthy fatty acids (trans fats). The healthy fats in avocado, for example, lower blood pressure and the ‘bad’ LDL-cholesterol (source).
The fats that all scientists agree that they are bad for health are trans fats. In particular, trans fats have been made artificially. Trans fats increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and provide visceral fat (belly fat).
What is also important to know is that both unsaturated fats and saturated fats are good for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins in the body.
Healthy fats even help in the fight against obesity. By healthy fats I mean in particular monounsaturated fatty acids (s.a. in avocado and nuts) and omega 3 fatty acids (s.a. in fatty fish and flaxseed).
Below are high-fat foods that are healthy and nutritious:
High-Fat Foods For A Healthy Lunch
- Salmon, mackerel, tuna, shrimps, herring, etc.
- Steak, pork tenderloin
Low in Omega-6 Oils
Full-Fat Dairy Products
- Grass and cream butter, Greek yogurt, goat’s cheese, feta, Parmesan cheese, etc.
You may have noticed that some foods contain a lot of protein and healthy fats. That makes it easy to vary with it.
Delicious healthy lunch recipes are:
- Tofu salad
- Salmon with avocado
- Spicy chicken salad
- Cauliflower salad with feta
- Omelet with salmon and vegetables
- Thai tuna salad
- Avocado with egg
- Vegetarian sushi roll
Bring Healthy Lunch To Work
If you want a healthy lunch, which still looks good in the afternoon, it is imperative that you are going to invest in something here.
Buy some plastic containers. Does not have to be expensive at all. Buy different sizes so that you can take lunch in its entirety, or the different parts separately. In this last way, it is not all one big porridge and it still looks good.
For example, if you bring Greek Yoghurt, you can put the fruit in a separate container. Mix them at the last minute, and you have a delicious lunch.
Lose Weight With A Healthy Lunch
Does a healthy lunch help with losing weight? Hell yes!
Losing weight is a matter of healthy, varied and less food, in combination with a healthy lifestyle.
At Our Health and Wellness, I advise you to skip breakfast regularly, especially if you want to lose weight.
In the video below you see the 5 myths about skipping breakfast:
A healthy lunch with protein contributes to a fuller feeling and prevents the craving for unhealthy food in the afternoon. Healthy fats in a lunch contribute to a satisfying meal and slow carbohydrates are an important source of energy.
So have lunch!
3 Healthy Lunch Recipes
To help you on your way, I have made 3 healthy lunch recipes for you. Healthy recipes that you can easily take with you to work.
Are you ready?
Lunch # 1: Lettuce wrap with salmon, avocado and bean sprouts
What do you need:
- 1 head of iceberg lettuce
- 200 grams of smoked salmon
- 1 avocado
- 1 bell pepper, a color of your choice
- 10 mushrooms
- 1 hand of bean sprouts
- pepper and salt
- Cut the peppers, mushrooms and avocado into pieces.
- Cut the salmon.
- Put all the ingredients in a bowl, add the pepper and salt and mix well.
- Wash the iceberg lettuce and remove 6 nice leaves from the crop.
- Spoon the mixture onto the lettuce leaves and sprinkle some bean sprouts over it.
- Fold the wrap and fasten with a skewer.
Lunch # 2: Fried Eggs with Vegetables
What do you need:
- 2 eggs
- ½ onion (white or red)
- ½ clove of garlic
- 1 cm of fresh ginger
- ½ stalk of celery
- 2 carrots
- 2 mushrooms
- ½ tbsp turmeric
- salt and pepper
- Beat the eggs and add some salt and pepper.
- Cut the half onion into rings.
- Peel the ginger and cut it as finely as possible.
- Cut the celery and carrot into slices that are as thin as possible.
- Put everything together and add the garlic (pressed) and the turmeric.
- Put a dash of oil in the pan and add the beaten eggs. Sprinkle with the ingredients and bake until the omelet comes free from the pan.
Lunch # 3: Apple Salad
What do you need:
- 2 apples
- 1 mandarin, in parts
- 75 gr celery
- 175 gr mixed lettuce
- 1 hand raisins
- 1/5 lemon, the juice & the peel
- 1 el stevia
- 1 tbsp olive oil, Extra Vierge
- 1 tbsp nut oil
- Pepper and salt
- Peel the apples and cut into cubes.
- Then peel the mandarin and use the segments for the salad
- Cut the celery into strips.
- Sprinkle the apple slices with half of the lemon juice and lemon zest.
- Bake the walnuts with 1 tbsp stevia for a sweet taste.
- Make a dressing of the remaining half of the lemon juice, olive oil, walnut oil and salt and pepper.
- Add all the ingredients in a large salad bowl
Enjoy your meal!
In short, focus on nutrition if you want to stay healthy!
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