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Tips for a Healthier Lunch

08.21.2012 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

I hope you found last week's blog on Fueling a Healthy Vacation helpful! I am throwing a few extra snacks in my suitcase and heading on vacation myself. I have asked my colleague Sports Dietitian Christine Turpin to take care of my WOW readers while I'm gone. I'll see you in a couple weeks! - Jane Jakubczak MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN Washington Redskins Team Dietitian

Christine Turpin, RD, LDN, CSCS

This is my first summer providing sports dietitian services for an athletic performance facility. The athletes are mostly middle school and high school kids (with some college students who are home on break). The coaches focus on improving agility, strength, speed, and reaction time of the athletes. As with many facilities, nutrition is often the missing link of the training and conditioning puzzle. The all sport camps are exactly that, all day sessions that emphasize skills and sportsmanship while having fun. The athletes are required to bring a lunch and, being a foodie myself, this is my favorite time of the day. I like to peruse the lunch area to take a peek at what the kids are eating and talk to the athletes about their lunch items. I was amazed of the foods, or rather lack of variety that made up the lunch boxes. These growing children are active all day and need fuel for both their body and mind.

Whether you are a competitive athlete, recreational exerciser or you are looking for advice to help your family eat healthier, follow these simple tips to put together a healthier lunch!

The Components of a Healthy Lunchbox
Components of a healthy lunch box = carbs + lean protein + veggies / fruits. Don’t forget your dairy! An easy way to get the most nutrients from your lunch is to focus on color. Create a rainbow as you fill the box!

Carbs (fuel the muscles and brain)
• Use high fiber & whole grain breads (more texture & fuller bellies)
• Experiment with different types of breads (raisin, pita pocket, dinner rolls & mini bagels)
• Consider a whole grain tortilla wrap instead of bread
• Try whole grain crackers in place of bread
• Include whole grain pasta or rice

Lean protein (staying power)
• Skinless chicken or turkey breast
• Sirloin
• Tenderloin
• Pork loin
• Ham or Canadian bacon
• Canned tuna fish in water or tuna packets
• Venison
• Hummus
• Eggs
• Nuts, nut butters (peanut, almond & cashew) & seeds
• Bean or peas

Choices to Wet your Whistle
• Low-fat plain or flavored milk (soymilk or almond milk)
• Water
• 100% Fruit Juice (NOT fruit drink)
• Sports drink

Salty Sides
• Baked chips
• Air popped popcorn
• Pretzels
• Whole wheat crackers
• Nut & seeds

Sweet Endings
•Melon balls
• Fresh fruit
• Applesauce
• Dried fruit
• Fruit cup
• Low fat pudding
• Mini sized pieces of chocolate (i.e. 2-3 Hershey Kisses®)

I challenge you to evaluate your lunch box and make one change, as discussed above, to make it one step healthier! Stay tuned next week as I discuss healthy snacks for after school and at the workplace!

Healthy Eating,
Christine

Christine is owner of Nourish2Perform and consults with competitive and recreational athletes and law enforcement agencies. Nourish 2 Perform specializes in integrating fitness and dietary education to maximize performance for athletes of all ages, recreational exercisers and other professionals engaged in competition or physically demanding occupations.

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