Lunch is such an important meal because it sets the tone for how you feel the remainder of the day. If you eat foods that are high in refined carbs and greasy fat, it can leave you feeling tired and sluggish. However, if you eat a healthy balance of high quality carbs and protein, you will have good, sustained energy for the rest of the day.
There are many different groups of thought regarding what types of foods should be consumed. Some say that you should not eat carbohydrates like legumes and grains, only vegetables as your carb source. Others think that eating these high glycemic carbs are good for you, just as long as you do not eat any flour or sugar products. The best way to test which foods work best with your body is to notice how you feel once you have consumed them. For example, do you feel bloated and tired after eating beans? Do you feel an increase in energy after eating grains?
Dr. Andrew Weil is an integrated medical doctor who focuses on quality nutrition as a healing modality. Some also call this functional medicine. His suggestions emphasize anti-inflammatory foods which exclude refined sugars but include whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. In Dr. Weil’s 04/28/2014 Anti-Inflammatory newsletter, he recommends six healthy lunch ideas that will leave your pallet satisfied and your energy level even throughout the afternoon:
Vegetarian chili – beans and fresh vegetables provide protein and fiber. Top with good-quality cheese for an extra serving of calcium, or avocado for a vitamin K boost.
Salmon salad and whole-grain crackers – canned salmon is a cost-effective way to get omega-3 fatty acids into your diet: simply mix with some lemon juice, pepper and fresh herbs and spread on fiber-rich crackers.
Hummus and vegetables – easy to pack, and the chickpeas in the hummus provide protein and fiber, while the vegetables offer up antioxidants. Bring a variety of organic, colorful vegetables for interesting tastes and textures.
Miso soup and edamame – miso is full of antioxidants and protective fatty acids, and edamame contains isoflavones that have antioxidant activity and may help lower cancer risk.
Barley salad – barley is a satisfying, nutty, low-glycemic-load grain. Start with barley and add whatever you prefer – grilled vegetables, tofu, beans – for a customized salad that can be eaten warm or cold.
Lentil soup – a good source of fiber and magnesium, lentils cook quickly and are filling.