Healthy Tips for Brown-Bag Lunches

Bringing your own lunch to work is the best way to keep the calorie count down for your mid-day meal

For a healthy sandwich, choose whole grains, nitrate-free meats and low-fat cheese

Looks like Mom was onto something: brown-bagging it is a good way to measure portion sizes and control calorie intake

Bringing a bagged lunch to work is good for your waistline as it allows you to make healthier food choices and control portion sizes, plus it saves you money on take-out food.

Check out these tips on how to make a more nutritious brown-bag lunch.

  • Sandwich: Always choose bread, buns, tortillas or pitas made from whole grains. For protein, select nitrate-free sliced turkey, chicken or ham, or try tuna or egg slices topped with a little light mayonnaise as opposed to making a salad. Also, whenever possible, include lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and low-fat cheese.

  • Leftovers: Chili and stews are great for next-day lunches. Whatever the leftovers, measure the serving carefully to prevent overeating at lunchtime.
  • Your meal should also be balanced: Half the container should be filled with vegetables or salad, with the other side divided between a serving of protein and a serving of whole grains (e.g., if 
you have some leftover chicken, combine it with a large salad and a whole-
grain bun).

  • Healthy brown-bag complements: Include carrot sticks and 1 c. (250 mL) of low-fat milk. For dessert, pack an apple, grapes or 1 c. (250 mL) of fruit salad. 

Remember, for a healthy lunch choose whole foods, keep pre-packaged additions to a minimum and always be conscious of portion sizes.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.