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Mommy Blogger Dr. Leheska – The Happy Plate Lunch

This is the third week of the Happy Plate series in honor of National Nutrition Month “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day” which encourages the development of a healthful eating plan that incorporates individual food choices and preferences. Click here to for more resources.  
I'm Blogging National Nutrition Month


Last week I shared that the most consistent trait among my weight loss clientele is that they are breakfast skippers. And the majority of breakfast skippers also skip lunch. This results in eating only one meal per day, supper, if any.  Would you consider sending your child to school or daycare without lunch or the knowledge that lunch would be provided to them? I am guessing your answer would be NO! Most parents are well aware of the external side effects of a hungry child…whiney, grumpy, lethargic, or hyper, to name a few. If these are the obvious results of a hungry child what happens to an adult who doesn’t eat all day long? Unfortunately, age does not give you immunity to the obvious side effects of hunger. Naturally, adults have a greater impact on the society as a whole because we have responsibilities to execute in order to make the ‘world go round’. Therefore, it brings to question, could this world run a little smoother if we just took the time to nourish our bodies and our minds??

I am a food lover and I rarely miss a meal or snack. Even so, lunch is my least favorite meal of the day because of time.  So, first I will review why eating lunch is essential to life and health to help establish your desire to invest some time towards it.

1.    Metabolism
a.    Our bodies are designed to survive times of famine. Therefore, when we do not eat our metabolism shifts to a starvation mode. As a result when you do eat at night not only do you tend to eat far more calories than you need, but also your metabolism is slower and will not burn what you consume.
2.    Glucose and insulin control
a.    Eating in regular intervals regulate blood glucose and insulin secretion. This allows you to maintain your mental and physical energy to perform your work.
3.    Nutrient adequacy
a.    When we skip meals we are forfeiting the opportunity to consume adequate essential nutrients for our body to function and maintain health.

Our health, happiness and livelihood are dependent on how we nourish our bodies. Therefore, if we skip meals we are not doing ourselves or the society any favors. It is up to each individual to make an effort to plan and prepare to have food available to eat throughout the day. This may require packing your lunch while you are packing lunch for your children, eliminating the need to leave your work to find food, saving you time and money. Another option is to supply yourself with meal replacement products that will enable you to eat on the run and require no prep. Or perhaps your style would incorporate a combination of both of these options.
Now it is evident that skipping lunch is detrimental to our health, but what should our lunch consist of to maximize the impact?  No matter the meal or snack the recommendation remains the same… a variety of nutrient rich foods from the majority of the food groups are necessary. Fill your plate the same way I recommended for breakfast:

1.    Lean protein 3-5 ounces
2.    Non starchy vegetable
3.    Low-fat dairy
4.    Whole fruit
5.    Modest portion of whole grains

The principals I outlined for in The Happy Plate for Breakfast  are the same throughout the day. I actually find it is much easier to pack my own lunch than my children’s. This is largely due to the limitations of refrigeration and heating of food at their school combined finding foods that look appealing so they will actually eat it. Here are examples of Happy Lunchboxes I packed for my kiddos the first three days of this week. If you are not currently eating lunch start by packing yourself the exact same things you pack for your kids, and in the same portions. Once you get used to eating lunch and improve your metabolism we will discuss how to take your Happy Lunchbox to the next level.

This is my version of a Lunchable which is something my 5 year old is always requesting. To keep it convenient I purchase a sliced dinner ham and a brick of reduced fat cheddar cheese. Then I pre-portion the ham and cheese and wrap with plastic wrap and place all of the extras in the freezers. This makes enough that I only have to worry about restocking the ham and cheese every few months.
I love roasting meat and thin slicing it for finger food in the lunchbox. My kids really eat it really well. The key to this or any lunch is maintaining proper temperatures to keep it all safe and fresh.

 

Quesadillas tend to be kid friendly and they can be very healthy when you stock your fridge with healthy items such as whole grain tortillas, low fat shredded cheese, and turkey peperoni.

 

Getting the kids involved in preparing their lunch at a young age will have benefits. When they are involved they are more likely to eat what you make. Although letting them help can require more time, mess and patience in the moment think about how it will pay off when they are able to pack their own lunch when they are older.

How many of you take the time to eat lunch?
What is your favorite lunch you pack for your kids or yourself?

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