“I often find that patients who struggle with excess, uncontrollable night eating find it much easier to manage when they are heading into the dinner meal feeling quite satiated and not particularly starving, because they’ve had a great breakfast and a very filling, balanced lunch,” Freuman said.
How to make time for lunch
Taking time for lunch doesn’t have to mean preparing a big meal. The key is thinking about lunch as any other appointment during your day and planning for it from the moment you wake up.
Planning your lunches will help ensure that you won’t get cravings for junk food when your blood sugar starts to sink.
First, select an approximate time that you will break for lunch. Next, figure out what it is you will eat. If you are working from home, it’s a good idea to prep lunch the night before, so you can just grab it from the fridge when it’s time to break for a bite.
Don’t forget to use lunchtime as an opportunity to unplug and refresh your mind. Taking a screen break can slow down the pace of eating and allow you to pay more attention to the textures and flavors of foods, allowing you to savor every bite.
Simple, scrumptious lunches
An easy way to think about lunch is to pair combinations of vegetables, healthy proteins and fiber-rich carbs. If you wish to add fat, go for healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado and nuts, Young said.
For a simple lunch strategy, you can use your plate as a visual guide.
“It’s a formula that most people employ for dinner, though maybe not in these same relative proportions,” Freuman said.
“One of my favorite lunches is to throw together a Mexican-flavored bowl of crunchy purple cabbage, chopped tomatoes, pickled onions, black beans, cheese, avocado, cilantro, hot sauce and some leftover shaved corn off the cob or a handful of crushed tortilla chips. It easily carries me through five or even six hours until dinner,” Freuman said.
A salad with grilled chicken is fine, but try adding a heaping scoop of chickpeas or a thick, hearty lentil soup on the side, Freuman said. A turkey or tuna salad sandwich on whole wheat bread is another good lunch option, but add some spinach slices, and pair it with veggies such as cucumbers, baby carrots or pepper strips with hummus.
Another one of Freuman’s favorites is a chicken cutlet (which you can cook ahead of time) tossed with cucumber, tomato and pepper, eaten alongside a few crunchy crispbreads topped with hummus and everything bagel seasoning.
“These are substantial lunches that help me get through the second half of my workday without being distracted by hunger, and make sure I don’t arrive upstairs ravenous after a day of working from home in the basement, ready to eat everything in the cupboard,” Freuman said.
One of Young’s lunch favorites is a hummus veggie wrap: a whole grain wrap with hummus, assorted vegetables, chickpeas and avocado. And if you want to eat something but aren’t super-hungry, Young recommends a protein-rich Greek yogurt with berries and flaxseeds.
Finally, last night’s dinner leftovers can be eaten during lunch. In my house, that can be a small piece of rotisserie chicken or grilled salmon with veggies and wheatberry salad.
5 lovely lunches
Here are some other creative lunch ideas to consider:
It turns pizza into a quick, balanced meal by using whole grain flatbread as the crust and topping it with spinach and sundried tomatoes, plus a protein-packed egg and just the right amount of melt-y cheese, Krieger explained.
“It becomes a complete and delicious lunch — warm or cool — with its addition of veggies and a generous amount of fresh herbs,” Newgent said.