Unique perspectives are important for collaboration within a community, by keeping an open mind and respecting all the different ways that we engage in healthy living.
We are excited to kick off our Dual Perspective Series, where we bring other voices together with WellSeek Nutrition Experts to share their words, wisdom, and experiences on unifying topics that matter to us in our community.
On average, the workplace is where we spend 30% of our lives, and why it is oh-so-important that we fuel ourselves properly to get through those busy work days. Gina Martini, founding health coach at Full On Happiness, first shares her favorite tips on making lunch a priority and teams up with nutrition Expert Sara Tindaro on some deliciously creative ways to ensure it’s a healthy one.
What do you think of when you hear that word?
Depending on your situation you might not think anything at all. Lunch? You say to yourself. You skip right on over it and forget to eat. Or, you may think of something consumed while hunched over a desk. The quicker it goes down the better because you’ve got things to do. Or, maybe it’s your favorite hour of the day, and you truly relish in that mid-day break.
By definition the word lunch means:
‘a meal eaten in the middle of the day, typically one that is lighter or less formal than an evening meal.’
With nearly 124 million Americans employed, where are the majority of us during the middle of the day?
That’s a lot of people consuming a meal on the clock every single day, which makes the work environment all the more important for this oh-so-precious meal.
Research shows that only 1 in 5 people step away from their desks for a midday meal. 1 in 5! That’s a lot of people not taking what is likely a much-needed break from their stressful, challenging jobs. But, breaks are sacred. They are important. Studies show that even small breaks like walking can fuel creativity.
Furthermore, lunch breaks can increase productivity, concentration, and social connections.
So, if we know the benefits, why aren’t more people doing it?
A good, quality lunch break fuels the power we need for optimal success at work. And, beyond that, utilizing the time to fill up on the right foods that make us feel like our best selves.
A common misconception is that it’s too hard to pack a lunch. People are either too busy or they think that bringing one will prohibit them from getting up and out. Then, time gets away from them and they end up running to the vending machine or the nearest fast food restaurant or corner deli where health isn’t necessarily the first thing on their minds. They are thinking about the most recent ‘fire drill,’ urgent email, or big presentation. Work is hard. And, we need to remember to treat our bodies right to support the toll those deadlines take on us.
So, how can we get the most out of our lunch breaks?
GRAB A BUDDY
Grab a friend or colleague and take your meal outside. Soak in some Vitamin D, breathe in the fresh air, and have a non-work related conversation. If the weather doesn’t permit, head to the break room or a community table and chit chat there. Studies show that adults who are more socially connected are healthier and live longer than their more isolated peers. That puts dining out with friends in a whole new light, doesn’t it?
A key to maximizing the lunch hour is to take your time. So often we rush through our food and don’t even taste it. We owe it to ourselves to stop and enjoy a meal. Research reveals that being distracted or not paying attention to a meal tends to make people eat more at that meal. So, slow down. Chew your food. If there is no possible way you can step away from your desk, at least turn off work mode for 10-15 minutes and read an article you’ve bookmarked or your current book.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Your personal successes do not happen overnight, and are almost always a gradual process. The same rule applies for the art of the lunch break. Start small. Integrate one step and one change at a time. Before you know it, your lunches will be one of the greatest successes of your day.
And, of course, let’s talk about the most important thing:
INTEGRATING THE RIGHT FOODS
We like to call them ‘work nourishing meals.’ Nutrition Expert Sara Tindaro suggests the following list of foods to add to your grocery list and meal ideas to keep in mind:
- Veggies: Greens such as kale, spinach, arugula, romaine, etc. You get the idea, we love green! If it’s a vegetable, it’s on our list, especially the non-starchy kind. Some ideas to get you started are brussel sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers, and cucumbers.
- Lean Proteins: Chicken or turkey, fish such as salmon, eggs, and yogurt. Vegetarian options include quinoa, legumes, nuts, and most plants which have varying amounts of protein.
- Healthy Fats: Avocado, olive oil, olives, nuts and seeds, coconut, dark chocolate (yes, we know you’ll love this one!).
- Complex Carbs: Incorporate starchier vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash, whole grains such as quinoa, beans and legumes (also a good source of protein), brown rice, and fruit like bananas, apples, berries, oranges, and grapes. Whatever is in season!
- Pack it up: Next, packing is your friend. Often times it can take no longer than 5 minutes to throw together a work nourishing meal, especially if you can utilize last night’s leftovers. All you need is a simple container to take with you on your commute.
- Make a Bowl: Leftover protein from the night before, such as salmon on top of chopped cabbage, bell peppers, any other vegetable, and quinoa. Lightly dress with an extra virgin olive oil-based vinaigrette. Get inspired with these ideas.
- Throw together a Salad: Lentils, walnuts, chopped sweet potato, romaine, avocado, tomatoes, and red onion. Top it with a dollop of hummus and some micro greens, and drizzle with a mix of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.
- Meal in a Jar: Try a deconstructed sushi roll with brown rice, nori, shredded carrots cucumber sticks, avocado, pickled ginger, and wasabi paste dressed with a rice vinegar or soy sauce based dressing. Or simply prepare your own salad in a jar.
- Back to Basics: When all else fails, a good ‘ol PB&J on whole grain bread with sliced carrots and cucumbers on the side will do the trick! Try a nut butter other than peanut butter, like almond or sunflower butter. And, smashing berries then spreading on bread in place of traditional jelly makes for a healthier twist.
HEADER IMAGE: BERNARD GABRIEL
Gina Martini is the founder and certified health coach at Full on Happiness, where she helps women heal their relationship with their bodies and food so they may start living the life that has always been meant for them.
Sara Tindaro, MS, RDN, CLT is a Seattle-based registered dietitian focused on helping guide others live a healthier life through their choices and relationship with food.