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January. 14, 2022


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Lunch depends upon location and situation.

Out of all of the meals of the day, lunch tends to have the least uniformity from one person to the next. Let’s take a deeper look:

Lunch at work/on the go (the “packed” lunch): generally speaking, this means that you either eat cold food or resort to using a microwave. Neither option is great on a chilly day, so use warm/hot beverages to warm your system and choose the cold lunch option. Using a microwave is not the way to go!

When packing a lunch, ideally choose something that would be equivalent to a dinner at home, in that it’s a fully balanced meal with some veggies, a source of protein, and maybe a little bit of fruit on the side as a dessert. Instead of being in the habit of associating one type of food (like a sandwich) with lunch and another kind of food (like a steak) with dinner, consider the fact that your body is looking for nutrient value to sustain your energy level throughout the day.

When you consider eating lunch for sustaining/improving energy levels, it drastically changes what you’ll pack for lunch, and therefore what you’ll eat as well. Here are a few examples of personal “packed lunch” favorites that you might enjoy, as well:

  • Chicken cacciatore — instead of pasta, I use arborio or jasmine rice. And then I simply toss a bunch of veggies into a tomato sauce with basil and cook on a low to medium heat for about 40 minutes. It’s even more delicious the next day, as the flavors soak in. I don’t mind eating this one cold. It tastes great either way!
  • Feta cheese with olive oil, cucumbers, and carrots — pour the olive oil directly on the feta cheese when you are ready to eat it, add a bit of lemon for flavor/citrus to taste, and then enjoy! Instead of using bread to eat the feta, consider replacing the bread with cucumbers and carrots.
  • Hummus with cucumbers, carrots, and a possible bed of spinach — this is a delicious treat every time. And if I’m looking for some animal-based proteins and/or a bit more of a filling lunch, I’ll add grassfed ground beef on top of the hummus.

Lunch at a restaurant: when eating at a restaurant, I recommend you learn to build ‘intuition with eating’. In other words, you already know that certain foods match your body and that other foods do not. The next step is to recognize that restaurants tend to add ingredients that are not listed on the menu. For example, they might cook with multiple types of oils. Or they might add butter to your dish without mentioning it. There are lots of examples of ways that chefs enhance flavors with unlisted ingredients, spices, herbs, etc.

And those foods may not match your body!

So, while it’s great to pick the healthiest choice on the menu, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll feel great after eating out. With this in mind, I recommend that you do your best to choose a meal that matches your body during a meal out, and before doing so notice how the ‘idea’ of this meal feels inside of your body. What do you notice as a sensation in your belly? Is your body saying yes or no?

Simply observe and take notice. What you’re doing is developing an ‘intuition-based eating system’ for yourself. You will improve accuracy over time.

Lunch at home: with careful planning the night before — or while preparing meals in general — you will cook a delicious dinner that either leads to leftovers or repurposing of ingredients. For example, if you are preparing a pound of chicken already, you can make double and put the extra into a container in the freezer. Or if you are cutting up broccoli, you can cut up twice as much as put what you are not using in a tupperware container.

By planning during meal prep time, you make future meals simpler. And, perhaps most importantly, you are more likely to eat balanced meals.

When lunch time comes and you are at home, you will have the option of leftovers from a mouth-watering meal you ate earlier this week, or you will have food already prepped for you that is easy to saute in a frying pan or heat up in the convection oven.

Make lunch prep at home simple by prepping the night before.

Dr. Kareem
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