There are many foods that we unanimously think of when we think of lunch; however, many of these foods are not healthy for us. In addition, many of these foods are not doing what they should be doing as a lunch, which is providing us with enough energy to get through the rest of the day. The following 10 worst lunch meals you can eat may surprise you, and you may find yourself changing your lunch menu from this point on.
1. Fast Food Hamburger and Fries – A sensible size burger on its own is not that bad; however, if you add an extra patty, supersize bun, bacon, all the condiments, a few pieces of cheese, and then add some fries to the mixture, you are on your way to heart attack city. Even if your fries are Trans fat free, you are still packing on excess calories that you don’t need midday. In addition, french fries can be hard to digest, which will drain your energy and ruin your productivity for the rest of the day.
2. Convenience Store Premade Sandwiches – Every convenience store carries a version of a sandwich, and they are definitely convenient! Just grab, heat, and go. But, most premade sandwiches contain unhealthy preservatives to help keep the sandwiches intact until they reach the store. In addition, they contain unhealthy fats, sweeteners, and other additives. If you want a sandwich, take the time to stop into a store that makes sandwiches on the spot or has made them fresh that morning, it will take two extra minutes and be much healthier.
3. Muffins – Muffins have been long thought to be a healthy breakfast idea, and many people eat a muffin and coffee for lunch as well. However, most muffins are made from enriched flour, sugar, and butter which are all unhealthy for you and will cause you to crash as the white flour and sugar have a high glycemic index.
4. Baked Potato – When you think of baked you think of healthy, and a baked potato is definitely healthier than its cousin the fry is. However, potatoes have a high glycemic index and will cause you to feel tired when eaten because they cause a quick spike in your blood sugar, which quickly drops dramatically and causes you to crash mentally and physically.
5. Cheese and Enriched Crackers – While cheese is generally accepted to be healthy for you, the crackers are not unless you are eating a certain kind. Most crackers are filled with sugar, additives, fats, and enriched flour. For example, the first ingredient (which means the biggest ingredient) in the popular Ritz cracker is enriched flour. When you eat enriched flour, you are eating wheat that was stripped of its natural make-up and then put back together with other stuff. According to the Global Healing Center, some of those items can be toxic. For instance, they say that the iron added is not really a nutrient at all but rather a metallic iron that is not bioavailable to the human body and is not meant to be consumed. Therefore, look for healthier, whole-grain crackers made from buckwheat, flax, or spelt.
6. Prepackaged Cheese and Meat Trays – Prepackaged trays with cheese, crackers, meat, and fruit are so convenient, and so unhealthy. First, they are full of preservatives to make the product last long on the shelf. Second, they are full of salt to help the product taste good. Lastly, they are packed in plastic trays. It is well known that plastic trays used for food packaging are made from Polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl), and the chemicals leach out of the plastic and into the items surrounding them, like your cheese and crackers. There are many health issues associated with these chemicals including DNA damage, lung function damage and weight gain. Therefore, you should really avoid any prepackaged meals for lunch.
7. Take Out Pizza – Everyone loves a slice or two of pizza at lunch, but if you are buying it out then you are likely consuming over 500 calories and 20 grams of fat. If you add a soda to that, then you are increasing your calories significantly. In addition, pizza is made from enriched flour, which can cause you to lose energy and productivity throughout the afternoon. If you really want pizza, then make it at home with a thin whole-grain crust and eat that instead of takeout pizza.
8. Bagels – Again, bagels can raise your blood sugar level quickly and cause you to crash in the afternoon due to their white flour and sugar content. Also, most bagels that you buy are excessively big when it comes to portion size. If you really want bagels for lunch, then make ‘mini-bagels’ at home with whole grain flour.
9. Energy Bars – Most people associate energy bars with healthy. They are supposed to give us energy and supply us with nutrients; however, most of them are really just a candy bar in disguise. They are mostly made up of enriched white flour, high fructose corn syrup and sugar. (All things that spike up blood sugar too quickly which causes a crash soon after.) They can also be high in saturated fat. Moreover, despite their claim to be a meal in themselves, you will become hungry again within a few hours because the spike in energy (which is really what they are supposed to do) goes away quickly and you become hungry again. Instead of an energy bar, opt for a whole grain bar that offers plenty of fiber and no white sugar or flour.
10. Smoothie – I had to include this one because smoothie bars are popping up all over the place as a healthier option for lunch, and it is hard to argue that they are obviously healthier than a piece of pizza or hamburger and fries. However, a smoothie is not going to supply you with the fiber needed to keep you full throughout the day, even though it does supply you with a good amount of calories. This can cause you to become hungry again quickly and eat more during the afternoon, which can increase your calorie total for the day and contribute to weight gain. Instead of a smoothie, eat a filling food at lunch and cut back on the calories.
In the end, the above 10 common lunch meals are really bad choices. Instead, eat whole grains, vegetables and fruits for lunch. You will find that by doing so you have much more energy and feel much better throughout your afternoon.
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