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How to Build a Satisfying Lunch

I’m fairly predictable when it comes to my eating habits throughout any given day. I eat breakfast around 8 am, then I’m usually pretty satisfied until lunchtime. I’ll eat something for lunch, and then by 2 pm I am completely ravenous. As in, I can usually scarf down an entire second lunch. And because I eat so much right around this time, by dinner I’m generally pretty full and will snack on crackers, cheese, cereal, or whatever else I can find laying around.

I know that this isn't the healthiest or most efficient way to eat, but I don’t really know any other way. Fortunately, there’s a pretty accurate science behind how to put together a healthy and satisfying lunch that will keep you full right up until dinnertime. Here are the steps:

Step #1: Pack the protein.

Experts recommend that at least twenty-five percent of your lunch be made up of protein. Research indicates that protein mimics hormones in the body that send signals to the brain telling it that you are full. Furthermore, according to Stephanie Middleberg, RD, a nutritionist at Middleberg Nutrition in New York City, “Protein is more filling than carbs alone because it takes longer to digest and leave the stomach”. Foods such as fish, lean poultry, eggs, and tofu are all protein-packed options that will help to keep you feeling full.

Step #2: Have a side of whole grains.

Another twenty-five percent of your lunch should consist of whole grains, which are packed with fiber and help to keep your blood sugar at steady levels, preventing quick drops and hunger pangs. Also, Middleberg says “Complex carbs are digested in two stages, partly in the mouth and then fully in the stomach, so it takes longer for digestion than simple carbs”. Pack yourself some brown rice, quinoa, or whole grain pasta to go along with your lunch.

Step #3: Fill up on fresh fruits and veggies.

The remaining fifty percent of lunch should be made up of fresh fruits and vegetables. This creates extra volume to your lunch and then again in your stomach, creating the sense of being full. Try having a big salad, a few slices of fresh melon, a hearty vegetable soup (which could potentially fulfill all of the steps at once), or a combination of fruits and veggies (apple slices and steamed broccoli, for example).


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