I have been experimenting with lunch. The perfect lunch is a little elusive... there's a lot to consider! I am not a fan of mid-afternoon belly-bloating, and even less a fan of the mid-afternoon 'oh-my-goodness-I-need-a-nap-immediately' feeling. Neither is awesome.
It's important to do this midday meal well. Unlike breakfast, it doesn't just restock the body's reserves after a night of fasting; unlike dinner, it doesn't just replenish after a long day. It's the in-between, the bridge, the sustenance to refill the tank after a busy morning and the fuel to get us through the afternoon. While breakfast sets us up to do well, and dinner caps off the tank for the day, our productivity, clarity, and energy depend largely on how we choose to eat midday (especially if your early and late meals happen at 6:00am and 7:00pm). The combination of foods we eat, how we eat them, and when play a huge role in what we can accomplish in a day -- and how we feel doing it!
I've done some tweaking to my own lunches of late, especially when I spend longer days at the office. I love that I can [quickly] assemble a mix-up of some of my favorite foods, and when combined, they form something of a Power Ranger-like team of goodness... the basis of what I'm enjoying calling the "From the Ground Up Power Lunch". I've taken to combining three or four of whatever varieties of ingredients I've prepped at the beginning of the week in a glass container [feels a little fancy!]. Some of my favorites so far include:
- quinoa + baked sweet potatoes + roasted cauliflower + steamed kale
- brown rice + sautéed chard + baked tempeh + baked butternut squash
- red quinoa + black beans + sautéed kale & onions
- millet + tahini chickpeas + avocado + hazelnuts
All delicious. All energizing. All based on some key principles of the From the Ground Up Power Lunch:
- Balanced Variety. Mix up texture, taste, and ingredients. Include in each meal: a complex carbohydrate that you enjoy (brown rice, sweet potatoes, and squash are favorites around here), a hearty protein (tempeh, chickpeas, other legumes), a healthy fat (coconut oil, avocado, walnuts), and a pile of leafy veggies (the biggest percentage of your plate). In concert, these balanced foods provide fuel, optimal nutrient absorption, and a variety of flavors.
- Portion. Feel free to make lunch a little larger than your other meals. As I mentioned above, it's a refill and a refuel for the body. Keep the majority of the portion fibrous greens (steamed or sautéed kale, chard, broccoli, or spinach are nutrient-dense, filling options)!
- Eat slowly. Chew eat bite at least 15 times, mindfully.
- Just eat. Don't text. Don't read. Don't walk or talk on the phone or watch TV or check your G-mail. Just be with your food and appreciate it. You'll be more productive with checking those emails after anyways. Really!
- Get up and walk. As soon as you're done lunch, take yourself for a walk, especially if the post-lunch sweet cravings hit. This is the good time to call a friend or family member, check in, hear about their day, share the hilarity of yours, and give your body a chance to digest. So often right after a meal, we feel [what we interpret as] hungry, but the body is actually just starting to digest. Give it this time to do its work: the sunshine and the break from the office will do you good!
So there you have it. Power lunching. While this version doesn't include high-powered executives in suits drinking ten-minute martinis while swapping stock market tips, it does promote feeling satisfied, nourished, and ready to take on the rest of your day - no energy slump, moodiness, or mid-afternoon chocolate attack attached.
Give these a try next time you're planning lunch. Revel in how energized you feel, get the most out of your break, and spend the remainder of your work day making witty quips while being uber-productive!
Looking for other ways your food can support the other areas of your life? Check out our upcoming workshop - Healthy Happy Hour - for ways to find balance between your social life and your healthy habits... it can be done! June 1st. Human@Ease. Brooklyn.