By: Marina Delio
Mornings can be hectic. With the hustle and bustle of getting our families fed, school lunches packed and kids out the door on time, feeding ourselves is often the last thing on our mind.
While breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, the reality is that an ideal morning meal for adults doesn’t always happen. If that’s the case, it’s imperative to eat a nourishing lunch. Keep reading to find out why lunch is so important to maintaining your own health and wellbeing.
Steady Blood Sugar
After several hours without any food, our blood sugar levels drop. Parents often notice their kids get very cranky just before dinnertime; the same thing happens to adults.
When our blood sugar drops, the body’s glucose level is too low to provide it with the energy it needs to perform at its best.
“You need a mid-day meal just as much as your kids do,” says dietician (and mom) Sally Kuzemchak. “Otherwise, you'll have a huge blood sugar dip that can cause you to feel shaky, weak, irritable and light-headed.”
To do the best we can at work and home, it’s vital we nourish ourselves in the middle of the day.
Health and Fitness
Skipping lunch may seem like a way to reduce your calorie intake, but you may actually end up doing the opposite.
Without a substantial meal, you might find yourself eating low-quality snacks throughout the afternoon. Kuzemchak says she notices that when she skips lunch, she ends up nibbling all afternoon.
We don’t feel as satisfied as we would have if we had eaten a proper afternoon meal. We also end up overly hungry when it’s time for our next meal and overeat as a result. A normal-sized lunch and dinner is a healthier option — and a better way to cut calories — than skipping lunch altogether and eating a huge dinner.
Additionally, when we don’t get enough food, our bodies go into starvation mode. Instead of burning calories normally, the body clings to every calorie it receives, as it doesn’t know when it will get more. This is an important survival mechanism to protect humans in extremes when we don’t know when our next meal will be. Eating a good mid-day meal is a great way to keep your metabolism ticking and out of starvation mode.
If you plan on exercising, it’s even more crucial to eat lunch. Muscles require fuel to work and to rebuild.
Preparation is Key
The reality is that eating a wholesome lunch is easier said than done. After all, lunchtime can be hectic, too!
Take five minutes to plan your lunch the night before. Toss any chopped veggies you have on hand into a canning jar, add some beans, nuts or crumbled cheese, and pack a separate small container of dressing. Just like that, you’ve got a healthy lunch prepared for next day.
You can also prep on Sundays by boiling eggs, chopping fruits and vegetables, and planning your lunches for the week.
If you take the time to nourish your body in the middle of the day, you’ll enjoy increased energy and improved mood throughout the afternoon.
Marina is the author of the Yummy Mummy Kitchen blog and cookbook. She lives in Santa Barbara with husband, two little girls, cat and egg-laying chickens. She loves cooking, gardening, photography and living a healthy lifestyle with her family.