What Healthy People Do on Their Lunch Breaks


They head outside


After you step foot in the office in the morning, lunchtime might be your only chance to escape your building. As little as two minutes in the fresh air to feel the sun or watch the rain could help your mind and body reset from the pressure of the day.

They get away from their desks


Even if you can’t make it outside, escape your desk for at least 15 minutes. Chat with a friend or stroll through the hallways. Your mind will feel more refreshed when you sit down again to get back to work.

They brown bag it


Packing your own lunch gives you more control over what you’re eating, and it doesn’t need to take much time or creativity to plan. A pita “pizza,” turkey and veggie wrap, or peanut butter and banana sandwich can make an easy, quick option. Your homemade lunch will probably be cheaper and healthier than whatever you’d normally get from the deli or cafeteria.

They make a sandwich plan


To make sure you know your options and don’t get bored of the same ol’ tuna salad every day, write your options in chart form. In the first column, list breads like pita, whole wheat bread, and tortillas. In the second column, write lean protein choices like low-fat cheese, hummus, chicken salad, and turkey breast. Veggie toppings such as cucumber slices, tomato, roasted red peppers, and spinach go in the next column. Finally, list condiments like Italian dressing and low-fat mayo in the last column. Optionally, you can add one more column with nutritious sides like yogurt, soup, baby carrots, and apples. When you’re throwing your lunch together, pick one ingredient from each column for an effortless, healthy meal.

They eat out smartly


Don’t reject your coworker’s invitation to eat out just because you’re trying to be healthy. As long as you pick healthy options like a broiled chicken breast sandwich (hold the sauce and keep your own low-fat dressing in the office fridge), steamed or grilled items, fresh fruit, and soup.

They don’t eat a whole sandwich


One study found that volunteers felt just as satisfied after eating an 8-inch sandwich as after a 12-inch one. Cut calories by asking for just half in the deli line, or save the other half for tomorrow’s lunch.

They daydream


Letting your mind wander can help you tap into the creative juices you’ll need to tackle hard projects. Brainstorm solutions for 15 minutes, or spend that time in la-la land picturing yourself in a stress-free place for instant relaxation.

They walk through errands


Double up your errands with a bit of power walking. If your office is close enough that you don’t need to drive, head to the drug store or bank on foot for some stress-busting exercise. As a bonus, walking to your lunch spot might empower you to make a healthier choice when you order.

They pack a frozen dinner


“Dinners” aren’t limited to the evening. A frozen entree with fewer than 400 calories, 15 grams of fat, 15 grams of sugar, and 800 milligrams of sodium is light enough for a healthy midday meal. Aim to get 7 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber to keep you full, alert, and energized for the rest of your day. Plus, quickly popping your meal into the microwave will leave you with enough time to go for a walk or run errands after you eat.

They sip soup


Broth-based soups are low-calorie but keep you feeling full. Pick up a carton of a healthy variety you like, such as bean and vegetable, on your next grocery run. Pair your soup with a cup of milk and a cheese stick for a protein- and fiber-packed meal that will keep you going through the end of the day. Don’t forget about your kids.

They take a nap


Escape to your car for a quick snooze (without driving, of course), or arrange yourself at your desk so you get a bit of shut-eye without attracting weird looks from your coworkers. A 10- or 15-minute nap can leave you refreshed and less tense.

They eat a healthy breakfast


Common breakfast choices like cereal and white bread are full of sugar, which gives you a quick energy burst but makes you crash soon after. Once your blood sugar drops, you’ll be left craving even more high-calorie, fatty foods by midday. To keep blood sugar steady, pick a breakfast of slow-digesting foods like lean proteins and whole grains, which will keep you full until lunch.

They have a mini potluck


Get some social support for your healthy efforts by gathering a group of coworkers who are also interested in nutritious food and weight loss. Once a week, have everyone bring in a healthy dish to share, and exchange recipes and fitness tips.

They use healthy foods to boost performance


One Wisconsin high school found that after replacing soda machines with water, energy drinks, and juice, and offering healthier food options, students started concentrating more and behaving better. Making healthier choices could boost your productivity in the office too.

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