Pack all of the food groups into one lunch
If there is any way to keep ourselves on the road to being healthier, it is to keep a well balanced diet. Incorporating every food group into our meals, helps us get the nutrients we need to maintain a healthy weight, and bodily functions.
Each food group has a particular purpose and they are all important. Let’s break down each food group, and figure out what they can do for you.
It’s just like mom always used to say, “Drinking milk will help you get strong bones.” She was exactly right, but it’s not just limited to milk, all dairy has calcium that helps to keep bones stronger for longer. About 2-3 servings of fat free or low fat dairy is needed a day.
Our body always needs to replenish our amino acids because we cannot store them. Eating 2-3 servings of protein a day allows us to do that. Protein isn’t just found in lean meats, but it’s also a good idea to eat at least 8 oz. of seafood a week. Without protein we would lose muscle mass, feel more tired during the day and possibly be more irritated.
There’s a pretty wide variety of vegetables to choose from: dark green, starchy, red/orange, and beans and peas. Pick a couple to have for your 3-5 servings a day. Eating your veggies protects your heart, keeps blood pressure levels more stable and helps to prevent against disease.
Your 2-4 servings of fruit is a great way to swap out super sugary snacks. Fruit houses the natural fiber, calcium, and potassium that our bodies need. Plus, the folic acid helps the body form more red blood cells.
There are both whole and refined grains. At least half of the 5-6 servings of grain that you have a day should be whole grains. These can be found in some cereals, cracker snacks, pasta and oatmeal. Grains are great because they help you to feel fuller so that you eat less, and it regulates your digestive system.
How can you eat these all at once?
- A salad with spinach, fruit slices (fresh or dried), cooked brown rice, roasted chicken and cottage cheese.
- Stir fried veggies with tofu over quinoa topped with cranberries & a glass of milk.
- Bean & cheese burrito with fresh salsa in a whole grain tortilla with sliced fruit.
These are just a few suggestions. Another super simple way to keep your lunch in check, is to print off a chart of the food groups and use it as a guide for grocery shopping and meal planning. When you go to make your tasty lunch, refer to the chart for ideas of what to include, or use it as a check list to make sure that every food group is included in your lunch box.
Photo credit: Elana Amsterdam