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Don’t Pack On The Pounds. Pack A Lunch, Instead

Truth be told, I’m a lady who lunches. I know, I know, it’s as cliche as wearing LuLu Lemon when you’re not at the gym and grocery shopping at Whole Foods. Anyway, I love to lunch, and I do it a lot. Then, of course, I wonder why I’m not seeing great results from my workouts. Rinse and repeat.

Health experts think there is a correlation between consumption of restaurant food and stubborn weight — and I’m putting that lightly. We all know it’s true, even if we hate admitting it.

Staff researchers at Michigan State have said that unhealthy snacking and eating out are some of the main culprits to weight gain. The medical team at Michigan’s Northwestern primary care took the conversation a step further by breaking down what we eat in terms of a calorie budget. Even when we think we’re selecting “healthy” or low-fat items from the menu, those foods are often full of hidden fats and sodium.

Researchers noted that restaurant meals, on average, contained 151% of recommended daily salt intake, 89% of daily fat, and 60% of daily cholesterol.

So what is a lady who lunches to do? Simple: we need to ‘bag it’ once in a while, because packing a lunch with all the macronutrients (protein, fat, and good carbs) can have big health benefits and also go a long way in NOT packing on the pounds.

A study out of Cornell University found that prepping meals at home slices calorie consumption by 20-35 percent. The biggest reason is that we’re make more thoughtful decisions when we take the time to curate items into a lunch box. We are also more likely to consider portion control when packing a lunch. Plus, many of the prep-free snacks like citrus fruits, apples, peaches, pears, nuts, baby carrots and celery are more likely to make an appearance.

All of the above can be very satisfying and won’t break the bank or bust your diet. Compare that to tasty items on a lunch menu, many of which are things you didn’t think you wanted until it was put in front of you.

With a little planning, anyone can put together a pretty awesome lunch. Pro tip: around my office, we’re loving the Bentgo stackable lunch containers (available on Amazon). They are so snappy, they practically beg you to fill them up. Anyway, if you look around online, there are loads of DIY lunch ideas to keep things interesting. If you choose to throw in a few leftovers now and then, you can also save time and money.

Finally, no one is saying eating out is bad — it’s a fun way to socialize, break up the day, or enjoy a special celebration. It’s just something you might want to do in moderation, especially if you eat fast food. With a little planning you can mix up your diet and still have lunch dates that won’t leave a bad after taste.

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