August 24, 2015

How to Healthify Your Lunch!

One of the biggest complaints teenagers have about school, besides classes, homework, and the ever-mounting levels of stress, is the cafeteria food. School lunches, despite multiple campaigns to make them healthier, are sad creatures. Square cardboard box pizza, mystery meat, and sandwiches that are the Russian Roulette of fillings have been staples of almost every cafeteria I've ever had the pleasure of dining in. As a pescetarian, I've gotten into the habit of packing my lunch to make sure I have food that I actually can eat when at school and so....below are my tips on how to healthify (and simplify) your lunch! (Be it school, work, or home!)

  1. Snacks! Packing healthy snacks to bring with you, even if you don't pack your entire lunch, will stave off any cravings and hopefully keep you from reaching for the fro-yo bar (although a Friday morning treat is always a necessity) Try carrot sticks and hummus, uncooked green beans, fruit, or crackers and cheese
  2. Leftovers! Still being the teenager that I am, Mom makes a lovely dinner for the two of us at night and in the morning I take the remains of it for lunch. If you don't have any leftovers the next morning, make yourself a sandwich or some pasta the night before.
  3. Frozen meals! If you have access to a microwave during lunch, pick out some frozen meals (I suggest "Amy's" brand anything--who just opened a "fast food" restaurant!) and you have your lunch all set! Try to make sure the frozen meal has plenty of vegetables and the right kinds of fats and some sort of protein so you're not overloading on one thing without getting any of another.
  4. Fruit! This kind of follows up to Snacks! but I always bring fruit with me to school. An apple is the perfect way to brighten up a dull morning and orange slices are heaven after swim practice. 
  5. Mixes! If you need a snack before or after your lunch break I suggest making your own trail mix on the weekends, a big tub of it, and bringing a container of it with you. It doesn't have to be refrigerated or heated up and it's a good way to keep your tastebuds guessing! (In my own mixture I like to have cashews, macadamia nuts, dried cranberries, raisins, dried cherries, pistachios, and some chocolate-covered something or other either raisins or one of the decadent treats from Brookside)
  6. Meal plans! Take an hour or so on the weekends before you go grocery shopping to plan out what you'd like to have for meals during the upcoming week. Try to make it so you can take leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day.
Pack a treat! If you have something to look forward to in your lunch you'll be more tempted to eat it instead of something out of the cafeteria's bakery. A little baggie of chips, a chocolate bar, a handful of chocolate chips, a brownie from the batch you made on the can be anything! But make sure it's not too big so you don't 
I've never been one of those people that believes cutting out all things sweet, yummy, and/or drizzled in chocolate is the best way to a healthier you. I believe it shouldn't be an extreme: cutting out all breads or all foods over x calories has never been my approach to life, and I find that it normally doesn't work for the people that try it. Find what works best for you and stick with it! (And don't forget the chocolate!)


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