Taking Charge of Lunchtime

Crazy day? We've got an action plan.
Published March 23, 2017


It’s a sad fact: We don’t always get a full hour to ourselves at lunchtime. Sadder still: Even when we’re able to take that whole hour we often don’t use it. Rushed eating often means making unhealthy choices.

Action Plan

  • Know how many SmartPoints® values you’re going to spend. If you let “what’s for lunch?” turn into a game-day decision, odds are great that stress will cause you to use more SmartPoints than you meant to.
  • Bring your lunch with you. Stock up on reusable containers and splurge on a cooler if necessary. Cook several servings of a filling soup or chili, and bring it throughout the week. Or make sure you have plenty of light bread and lean sandwich fillings, and/or salad fixings to make satisfying lunches.
  • Know your local restaurants. It’s a huge help to have a few go-to meals at nearby eateries. Spend time upfront with takeout menus and use your Tracker to find the SmartPoints values. If you don’t already have a few healthy take-out menus tucked away somewhere, get out at lunchtime and grab a few. That way you can suggest where to order from for the next breakfast or lunch meeting before anyone else pipes up with a choice that’ll make it harder to stay on track.
  • Don’t work while you eat. Do your best to focus on your food. If you multitask while you eat, you may not recognize the signs of satisfaction.
  • Squeeze in a workout. No time for a full workout? A simple walk will earn FitPoints and also help you de-stress. 
  • Eat in stages If you're going for a walk during lunch break, when do you eat? It's simple: In stages. Divide a healthy, balanced midday meal into several courses to eat mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
  • Offer to place the catering order. That’s a job no-one wants — except you, because you’ll request dressing on the side, make sure that vegetables are an option, and choose baked over fried.
  • Focus on what you’re choosing to eat. If you pay attention to what other people are putting on their plates, you’ll want to sample. In group settings people are strongly influenced by the food choices others make, says Brian Wansink, Ph. D., and director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and the author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. Remind yourself why you made your healthy choices, and think about the SmartPoints values you’ll save by not giving in to peer pressure — SmartPoints you can use later on when you’ve left work and are doing what you want to do.
  • Schedule exercise time in your calendar. Make it a standing appointment. Knowing you can rely on even 15 minutes for a walk can lift your spirits.
  • Stand up. Take that call or read that report while you’re standing. Research shows that prolonged sitting can pose a dangerous health risk over time.
  • Stretch in place. Whether you’re on your feet all day or stuck at your desk, take a moment to get the blood flowing with lunges or squats.
  • Increase face time. True, it’s easier to call or email your colleague, but why not walk over? Five-minute bursts of activity here and there throughout the day can add up to 60+ minutes of exercise a day. It's sa great way to rack up FitPoints! 
  • Customize your commute. Squeeze in activity: Get off the bus a stop early, park in the back of the lot. Heck, pretend the elevator at work is broken. Whatever it takes.
  • Stash shelf-stable meals. No time to eat? You can open and nuke a can of soup in three minutes (add another three to slurp it down). Instant oatmeal is another quick belly filler. You can eat a healthy meal in less time than it takes to find a crisp bill for the vending machine.
  • Enjoy some “whine” with a friend. Designate a special person to vent to when you’re feeling the pressure. You might be less lightly to make a quick junk-food grab after you talk out some of your frustrations with a trusted coworker or a friend/spouse outside the workplace; someone who will understand you far better than a cookie ever can.
  • Stay hydrated. It’s easy to forget to drink when you’re pumping on a long project. Keeping a water bottle at your side (and reminding yourself to use it — even if you have to put reminders in your calendar every 30 minutes) will help you avoid dehydration and fatigue. And it’ll also force you take some additional much-needed breaks throughout the day.

RELATED: Easy Lunches for One