I don't know about you, but lunch is one of the most important meals of my day.
After a long morning of work, I look forward to taking a break and diving into a delicious mid-day meal.
Because lunch breaks usually aren't very long and normally consist of whatever food we throw together in the morning, it can be easy to consume calorie-packed, unhealthy lunches every day without even realizing it.
To help you pack a healthy lunch without changing too much of your daily meal, I've come up with six easy swaps that will fill your lunches with protein, vitamins and nutrients, leaving you satisfied, full and ready to take on the afternoon:
1. Switch out white bread for whole wheat bread.
White bread is full of refined carbohydrates that quickly turns to sugar and digests fasts, leaving you hungry and unsatisfied shortly after eating.
Wheat or multigrain bread, on the other hand, is a complex carbohydrate that digests slowly, providing your body with sustained energy that lasts for hours.
Wheat bread is full of fiber and other essential nutrients, and it will keep your body much more full compared to white bread.
2. Switch out deli meat for grilled chicken.
Lunchmeat if often processed and filled with fat, so switch it out for some fresh grilled chicken.
Processed meat means it has been modified from its original state, and it's been linked to various types of cancers.
So, whip out that George Foreman or fire up the grill, and cook up a few slices of grilled chicken to add to your sandwiches or salads for the week in place of deli meat.
Grilled chicken is low in fat, high in protein and contains many essential minerals.
3. Trade regular yogurt for Greek yogurt.
A one-serving container of Yoplait yogurt contains 150 calories, 6 grams of protein and 18 grams of sugar.
However, a single serving of Oikos Triple Zero Greek yogurt contains 120 calories, a whopping 15 grams of protein and only 6 grams of sugar.
Protein-packed Greek yogurt helps rebuild muscle, and even if you aren't a fitness-buff who relies heavily on protein, it is still essential for proper brain develop and function.
So, don't skimp on the protein!
4. Switch out brownies, cookies and sweets for healthy alternatives.
When that sweet tooth hits you like nobody's business, put aside the cookies, brownies and cupcakes for a healthy alternative such as Mikey's Double Chocolate Chip Muffin Tops.
These muffin tops are only 127 calories, contain only 5 grams of sugar and 6 grams of protein.
They are soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free and Paleo friendly.
In contrast, a package of two chocolate cake Tastycakes contains 260 calories, 3 grams of protein and 30 grams of sugar.
When those sugar cravings hit, make sure you are prepared so you don't splurge on fattening foods.
Another great healthy option is Chocolate Walnut Fudge Luna Protein bars (my personal favorite).
5. Replace your refined sugar with natural sugar.
Refined, white sugar is often bleached and processed, whereas Sugar in the Raw is never bleached and retains its rich flavor and natural color of molasses.
Sugar in the Raw can be added to your coffee or tea in place of refined sugar, and its bold flavor will have you using less without sacrificing on the taste.
6. Switch out processed vegetables for fresh broccoli rabe.
Veggies that are taken from a cafeteria, a can or from a frozen bag are often full of preservatives and have low nutritional value.
Replace those veggies with the newest trend in vegetables, broccoli rabe.
Broccoli rabe is a super food that strengthens your bones, improves you digestion, detoxes you body and boosts your immune system.
Broccoli rabe contains only 20 calories, 3 grams of protein and 0 grams of sugar per serving, while a serving of Steamfresh broccoli cuts contains 30 calories, 2 grams of protein and 2 grams of sugar.
Broccoli rabe can be prepared a variety of ways, so give this new trend a try.
Switching out your lunches for healthier versions doesn't have to be a drastic change.
These everyday switches will provide your body with the energy it needs to get you through the afternoon slump, and it will keep your body fueled with nutrients to help you live a longer, healthier life.