Choosing a healthy lunch doesn’t have to be boring or a day-to-day challenge. In fact, there are plenty of tasty and healthier substitutions you can make to your favorite meals when eating out or packing a lunch, such as adding more fresh fruits and vegetables and reducing refined grain products such as white bread and sugary foods. And losing just a few pounds can help reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association.
“The American Diabetes Association is committed to raising awareness and celebrating healthy choices. When it comes to any meal, if you are living with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, making the healthy choice is probably at the forefront of your mind, but it’s not always the easy choice. Remember that healthy choices for people with diabetes are the same as for everyone else: choose more vegetables, especially leafy greens, lean protein sources and whole grains in place of processed refined grains whenever you can,” says Sacha Uelmen, RDN, CDE, Director, Nutrition at the American Diabetes Association.
Making better choices at lunch is a great place to start. And even small changes can help.
So check out these healthy swaps below:
* Caesar Salad. The traditional salad contains romaine lettuce, croutons, parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing. Make a healthier salad by asking for the dressing on the side and use it sparingly. Add more veggies to your salad to increase vitamins and minerals, including dark, leafy greens, such as kale or spinach, carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, or onions instead of croutons. Go light on the cheese or skip it altogether. Some restaurants now offer kale Caesar salad.
* Pizza. Two slices of pizza with extra cheese sounds delicious, but it can be high in saturated fat and calories. A better option is to have one slice of regular cheese pizza with veggie toppings and a side salad or two small slices of thin crust pizza with a side salad. And what about soda? Try sparkling water or still water with lemon instead.
* Italian sub. Choosing a sandwich with fries and a soda or sweet tea might satisfy a craving, but it’s also a lunch that is packed with calories. Try a grilled chicken breast or turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread or wrap and add plenty of veggies. Replace regular mayo with avocado, hummus, or light mayonnaise and ask for half the cheese. Add fresh fruit or a small salad in place of the fries. And swap out the soda or sweet tea for water, sparkling water, or unsweetened tea with a splash of lime.
Take the stress out of making these choices on your own and consider a structured meal plan like Nutrisystem D, which provides pre-portioned meals to help manage diabetes and keep healthy eating on track at every meal.