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10 easy lunches to stay energized In the afternoon

How much does your mid-day meal matter? The truth is, plenty. Although we often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, I’d argue that lunch is the focal point. Leave it to our European friends to teach us a thing or two about the benefits of a longer, substantial lunch! As a health coach, I often hear women lamenting about low energy (and motivation) in the afternoon. In turn, they crave a nap or a sugary snack. As we dive deeper, all signs point to one thing. Lunch. Women are either choosing a meal that’s wrecking havoc on blood sugar, or they’re simply not eating enough. Given this common phenomenon, let’s dig into lunches to balance blood sugar. Sayonara, afternoon slump.

Aim for Balanced Blood Sugar

A nourishing, balanced lunch—one that includes adequate protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats—is the ticket to better health. Think: more energy, mood stability, and hormone regulation. At the root of it all is blood sugar regulation. Blood sugar is the master controller. It dictates our hunger, hormones, cravings, and of course, our energy. We tend to feel our best when our blood sugar is balanced. Meaning, it’s not too high or not too low. After all, when blood sugar looks like high peaks and low valleys in the body, you either feel wired or tired, and very little of the in between. The goal is to find the in between.

Eat a Nourishing Lunch

Our bodies need fuel, especially carbohydrates. But certain carbohydrates can elicit an unwanted blood sugar response. Excessive amounts of carbohydrates—especially those with refined sugar—can cause fatigue. However, stabilizing glucose levels is the secret weapon to controlling and managing energy. Therefore, as often as possible, we want our lunches to balance blood sugar. When eating a sandwich, for example, make sure to add protein (turkey, chicken, tuna salad, tofu, mashed chickpeas, etc.) and healthy fats (avocado, pesto, full-fat cheese, etc.). Keeping blood sugar in check keeps the afternoon slump at bay.

Foods that give you energy

To maintain balanced energy in the afternoon, look no further than what’s on your plate. The foundation of building a nutritious, energy-boosting lunch starts with whole, unprocessed foods. Think: ingredients that are as close to the farm or the ocean as possible. In most cases, the more processed the food, the more additives it has, the more likely it will cause a surge, then depletion of energy. Satisfying fuel is a combination of high-quality protein, healthy fats, complex carbs, and gut-boosting fiber. These foods are naturally gluten-free, many are vegetarian (or vegan), and most are in their whole, unprocessed state.

  • Avocado
  • Beets
  • Berries
  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Goji berries
  • Kale
  • Walnuts
  • Salmon
  • Sweet potatoes

When possible, incorporate these ingredients into your daily lunch!

10 Lunches to Balance Blood sugar

Without further ado, below are 10 delicious lunch ideas to balance blood sugar. Feel free to make ingredient swaps, where necessary. For example, if you don’t eat animal protein, swap the source of protein for legumes, edamame, tempeh, tofu, or a protein-forward pasta, like lentil flour.

chickpea tortillas with tzatziki and ground beef

Make the chickpea tortillas ahead of time, as well as the ground beef (keep it simple—one pound of grass-fed ground beef, sauteed with sea salt, pepper, and olive oil). Serve with store-bought tzatziki and leafy greens.

Toast with eggs and smoked salmon

Use a whole grain bread or gluten-free bread, like Simple Kneads, Food for Life, or Outside the Breadbox. Top with scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, sauerkraut, and sprouts.

Frittata with a side salad

Choose from a variety of healthy, nourishing frittata recipes! Pair with a side salad or whole grain toast with avocado.

Hummus platter with crackers and crudités

In the mood for a Mediterranean-inspired lunch? Pair 1/4-1/2 cup of hummus with seedy crackers (like these, these, or these), crumbled feta, olives, and fresh veggies.

Protein plate

Similar to a hummus platter, opt for a smorgasbord of bites to balance blood sugar and satisfy cravings. You can make this a few different ways, but my favorite is to have two hard boiled eggs, 1-2 slices of aged cheddar cheese, a handful of walnuts, and cubed melon (or another piece of seasonal fruit).

Savory Oats

Have you heard of savory oats? Unlike their sweet oat counterparts, savory oats are typically loaded with healthy fats, fiber, colorful veggies, and plenty of protein. With ingredients prepped ahead of time, this meal comes together in no time—it’ll become one of your favorite lunches to balance blood sugar! Here’s a flavorful savory oats recipe with tahini.

cottage cheese bowl

If you’re team cottage cheese, you need to try a loaded cottage cheese bowl for lunch. Another simple and satisfying meal, cottage cheese creates a protein-forward base for a variety of toppings. Pasture-raised, from small family farms, I love Good Culture cottage cheese. Here are two cottage cheese bowl recipe ideas: eggs and smoked salmon; avocado and chives. Use these to dip!

Baked halloumi sheet pan

This vegetarian lunch idea is ideal for those who work from home. Halloumi is salty, chewy, and pairs beautifully with tahini, olive oil, or tzatziki. Pop a sheet pan of halloumi and veggies into the oven, answer a few more emails, then lunch is served.

Smoothie bowl

Look no further than this guide to create a filling, satisfying smoothie bowl. If you toss all the ingredients into a freezer baggie the night before, this lunch will come together in no time. Along with your veggies and fruit, add your milk of choice, protein powder, and a heaping spoonful of nut butter. Bonus points for seeds, like chia, hemp, or flax.

Whole grain turkey wrap with pesto

A turkey wrap always hits the spot. Feel free to sub the turkey for smashed chickpeas or tofu, if plant-based. I love these wraps, but you can roll your wrap using collard greens as well. For the filling, add a few slices of turkey, pesto, spreadable goat cheese, tomatoes, and greens. Serve alongside these with hummus.

Images courtesy of Unsplash.

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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider.

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