- Packing and eating a healthy lunch isn’t difficult.
- Create a meal plan to use for shopping, cooking, and packing meals.
- A healthy lunch eliminates fatigue, creating a safer job site.
Long hours and heavy labor are part of the construction worker’s life. Energy drinks, soda, and candy proliferate around the job site, and most meals are from the catering truck or the nearest fast food restaurant.
You can do better than that. Making and packing a healthy lunch doesn’t have to take up a lot of your free time, and you will reap more benefits than just a slimmer waistline.
Do you eat—and what do you eat?
Skipped meals may be a common occurrence on your job site. Skipping meals, especially when you have a physically demanding job, can lead to distracting hunger as well as overeating later.
- If you skip breakfast, you will be tempted to eat more to compensate later in the morning or to pick up unhealthy snacks on the way to work.
- Skipping breakfast also leaves you tired throughout the morning and ready to eat too much of the first thing you see for lunch.
- If you skip lunch, you may be tempted by high-sugar, high-fat snacks you can eat in a hurry. You may also eat more than necessary at the dinner table.
Lunch off the catering truck or the local pizza buffet, while convenient, is often filled with unhealthy fat, sugar, and salt. Starches consist of greasy buns or old bread. Vegetables may be entirely absent.
The impact of a poor diet
Whether you skip meals or eat the wrong foods, a poor diet can result in fatigue. You work on a construction site full of dangerous equipment and materials. Fatigue can get you injured or killed faster than the wrong food choices.
Fatigue can get you injured or killed much faster than the wrong food choices.
Slow thought processes can lead to errors and rework. Staying on schedule is crucial, so you want to be able to work quickly and without mistakes.
Other issues caused by eating the wrong foods and gaining weight include developing Type 2 Diabetes, which takes an effort to manage and can lead to heart problems and stroke.
The ingredients of a healthy lunch
Healthy meals don’t need to be complicated. You don’t need fancy recipes or expensive ingredients.
A meal plan keeps you on track by scheduling what you eat and how much. Write out a week’s worth of menus to use for shopping, cooking, and packing meals.
Imagine a plate cut in quarters. Two quarters, or half the plate, should contain fruits and vegetables. One quarter should contain complex carbohydrates (like starches) and the final quarter—protein.
A serving of carbohydrates or meat should be about the size of a pack of cards. Double that for the fruit and vegetables.
Complex carbohydrates include whole grain bread and pasta products, brown rice, potatoes (especially unpeeled), squash, and whole grain cereal. Protein includes meats from animals and fowl, fish and seafood, eggs, nuts, and milk products like yogurt.
Pack a healthy lunch—and don’t forget the snacks!
A healthy lunch can be remarkably simple, as can healthy snacks.
- A sandwich made of two slices of whole grain bread, a low- or nonfat condiment like mustard or low-fat mayo, a serving of low-fat sliced meat, and some vegetables. You can go traditional with tomatoes and lettuce, or be daring with cucumbers, shredded carrot, hummus, or pieces of crunchy jicama.
- A slice of whole grain bread with peanut or almond butter and an apple or orange is the perfect pick-me-up to hold you until the next meal. Smoothies of fresh fruit and yogurt are also great snacks.
- Instead of energy drinks, soda, tea, or coffee, take along a large bottle of water. Sometimes when you feel hungry, your body is actually asking for fluids.
Stick with seasonal fruits and vegetables, stock up and freeze meat and bread when there is a sale, and purchase frozen fish packed in individual portions.
Commit to purchasing the right ingredients and pre-packing parts of your lunch the evening before, and you will have time for a good breakfast before heading out the door to the job site.