Lunch time: it’s a much-needed break in the 9-5 workday, but it can become stressful if you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight. Even choices that seem to be healthy, like salads or soup, can be full of calories or too much sodium.
Here are eight work lunches that you can enjoy when your weight is the last thing on your mind.
1. A Big Salad with Add-Ons
Salads seem so innocent at first glance, but it’s not the salad itself that makes the calories go up: it’s what you put on your salad. But if you’re not interested in counting calories, then enjoying a big salad for lunch will be satisfying and enjoyable.
Start with two cups of lettuce, spinach or other greens, and a source of protein, whether it’s chicken, fish or meat. Then add the following:
- Avocado (the recommended serving size is 30 grams, or 1/5 of an avocado, which is 50 calories. But you can add as much as you please)
- Walnuts (there are 196 calories in 1/4 cup)
- Any type of cheese
You’re still going to reap the benefits of these ingredients, however. Avocados contain fiber, potassium and vitamins K, C and E. Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids and are considered to stop inflammation and lower the risk of cancer. And, of course, cheese contains calcium.
Another seemingly innocent meal: sushi is just rice, fish, some vegetables and seaweed, right? The good news is that if you’re not watching your weight, you can enjoy your favorite type of sushi.
Try the following for a sushi lunch:
- California Roll
- Shrimp Tempura Roll
- Salmon and Avocado Roll
Unsurprisingly, the Shrimp Tempura Roll is the most caloric with about 508 calories. But it’s unquestionably the most delicious.
3. Cobb Salad
Enjoy a tempting Cobb Salad for lunch and you will get several different types of protein which the body needs to create cells and fix damage to existing cells. A typical Cobb contains the following protein sources: eggs, blue cheese, chicken and/or ham, and bacon.
A serving of blue cheese has 150 milligrams of calcium, so it’s a good choice. One hardboiled egg has 6 grams of protein, so you will easily meet your daily recommended protein levels with the amount of protein-rich ingredients in this tasty salad.
4. Cheeseburger and Fries
Go ahead, give in to your cravings and order take-out from the pub down the street from the office. You can be confident that you will get a significant amount of protein and calcium from the beef and cheese. It turns out that we can’t stay healthy and happy if we constantly stick to a healthy diet and ignore all food cravings: we will find it easier to stay on track and be happier overall if we give in sometimes.
5. Chicken Salad Sandwich
While this sandwich option seems pretty simple – it’s just chopped up chicken, mayonnaise and usually lettuce on white bread – it’s the mayonnaise that is the high-fat culprit here. But there’s a certain freedom that comes with not worrying about calories or weight. So, order away and enjoy this sandwich. Add a side of salad or raw veggies.
6. Grown-up PB and J
When you were a kid, chances are that your mom packed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in your lunchbox sometimes. Feel like a kid again and pack this sandwich as your work lunch, but with some modifications: use whole-wheat or whole-grain bread, and use several tablespoons of any nut butter. If peanut butter is still your favorite, feel free to use it, but you can also use almond, pecan or even cashew butter.
Many shy away from nut butters because of their high fat content, but the National Institutes of Health discovered that we can be healthy and still eat fat. It turns out that a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates keeps arteries healthy.
Add two tablespoons of peanut butter to your sandwich and you’ve got a healthy eight grams of protein to power you through your workday. Add two of almond butter and that’s seven grams.
Pizza is a very popular lunch choice. Consider this crazy fact: a recent survey discovered that the typical American will eat 6,000 slices of pizza. Chances are you’ve got a pizza place near your office, so give in and order two slices of your favorite type. You’re still getting protein and calcium from all that cheese.
8. Go Mexican
Burrito bowls are a popular choice on restaurant and take-out menus, and for good reason: they’re fun to eat and full of an interesting variety of ingredients. A typical burrito bowl includes a base of brown rice and any toppings you wish from black beans to cheese and avocado to salsa, with a protein source, usually steak or chicken. Whether you make your own or buy it from a nearby take-out joint, you are in for an exciting midday break.
See also: How to Make Cheap Healthy Lunches
Deciding what to eat for lunch every day is not an easy task, and it becomes even trickier when you are trying to lose weight. Forget all that stress and focus on the enjoyment factor of food, with these eight work lunch ideas for those who don’t care about their weight. Lunchtime will never mean a boring grilled chicken breast or green salad again.