What Do Nutritionists Eat for Lunch?
Lunch can be a tricky proposition. During a busy workday, there’s often no time to make something healthy — and sometimes barely time to grab a meal on the go. But without a nutritious lunch, it can be hard to power through your afternoon (meaning you’re more likely to give in to a sugary snack). So we’ve turned to the professionals for some lunchtime advice. Here, five nutritionists who are Healthy Eats contributors share their favorite midday meals.
EA Stewart, MBA, R.D.: My kids aren’t big fish eaters, so I don’t make it often for dinner, but I do enjoy it for lunch. I keep wild salmon fillets in the freezer that I can quickly cook up and serve on top of Asian slaw with green onions, chopped peanuts and a homemade vinaigrette.
Min Kwon, M.S., R.D.: I’m a huge believer in meal prepping over the weekend so that in less than five minutes I can have a hearty and satisfying lunch. I always have on hand plenty of vegetables, a good carbohydrate source (like cooked whole grains or a sweet potato), a protein (like some chicken, fish, chickpeas or egg) and a healthy fat (avocado or nuts are my fave) — toss it all together in a bowl and that’s lunch!
Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D.: I like to take a day-old salad and top it with beans, canned tuna or a hard-boiled egg.
Kara Lydon, R.D., LDN: I’ve been really into collard green wraps lately — I stuff them with any veggies I have on hand and a protein like hummus, tuna, cheese or tofu. They’re quick and easy (and fun!) to make.
Dana Angelo White, M.S., R.D.: I love a good salad, but not just a pile of vegetables. I always make sure to put in some healthy protein, like eggs, beans, tofu or tuna. Then I top it off with some light crumbly cheese, a sprinkle of fresh or dried fruit and some pumpkin seeds for crunch.
Stewart: Since I work out of my house, I rarely pack a lunch. But if I know I will be out and about for a while, I will pack a piece of fruit and an energy bar (my favorites are KIND Bars, Perfect Bars and Zing Bars) to fuel me until I can get home to make lunch.
Kwon: I like to pack a sandwich or wrap filled with egg and avocado salad, mashed chickpea salad or hummus and veggies. On the side, a piece of fruit or a Greek yogurt. And my go-to sweet treat is a piece of dark chocolate.
Amidor: I love a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole-grain bread. I complement it with plain, nonfat Greek yogurt topped with fresh sliced strawberries.
Lydon: I love Mason jar salads because they are so easy to transport. I layer them in the following order, starting at the bottom: hard veggies, protein, fruit, grains, nuts and greens.
White: I like to bring leftovers with a spin on them — like last night’s chicken repurposed into a quesadilla, or some pasta with vegetables and whatever was on the grill the night before.
Stewart: Since I follow a gluten-free diet, I usually order a sandwich of turkey and avocado wrapped in lettuce. And I’ll pile as many veggies onto it as possible — including spicy peppers if available!
Kwon: A grilled chicken sandwich or a salad with the dressing on the side.
Amidor: I order a low-sodium turkey sandwich, and I’m very specific with how I order it. I ask for whole-wheat or rye bread, half the amount of turkey they usually use (otherwise it’s a huge pile of meat), double the vegetables (like lettuce and tomato) and just a touch of mustard or honey mustard.
Lydon: I try to find a sandwich that’s packed with the most veggies — like a hummus and veggie wrap or a grilled vegetable panini with feta or mozzarella.
White: I like a chicken or turkey sandwich loaded with atypical veggies — like cucumber, carrots and peppers. And since deli portions are usually large, I often split a sandwich with a co-worker or save half for the next day.
Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.