How to work a hectic lunch on-the-go

Sandra R. Cain For Better Living

March is National Nutrition Month and a good time to re-think some of our eating habits. Take time this month to look at your eating patterns and begin to make the small improvements that, over time, add up to significant health benefits

The benefits of a healthy lunch for adults and children are worth the time and effort. Also, how you eat may be just as important as what you eat. Eat slowly and listen to your internal signals of fullness. It takes twenty minutes for your stomach to send a message to your brain that you’re full. Eating slowly will help prevent overeating and too much weight gain.

Plan …

— A good lunch starts with healthy choices from all five food groups. Include lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods with your meals. Examples include:

— Tuna sandwich (made with light mayo) on whole-wheat bread with sliced tomato, a slice of watermelon and skim milk.

— Black bean soup, a whole-wheat quesadilla made with mozzarella cheese, salsa and a side of strawberries or grapes.

— Lunch at work: When time and money are tight, a brown bag lunch may be best. Take a break from work while you eat a healthy lunch. Go for a walk after your meal.

— Lunch at fast food: It is easy to overdo calories, fat and sugar when you do fast food. But, smart choices are now available at most chains. Choose 1% milk and fruit with kid-size meals.

— Lunch at a restaurant: Check out restaurants that have nutrition information for customers. Many chains also have nutrition facts on their websites.

Eat …

— Always start small. Most serving sizes in the United States are two to three times what most adults need. Try smaller portions like a cup of soup or half a sandwich. You will get plenty of food and you may save money too. Kid-size burgers are actually great for adults, too.

— Share, share, share. This can help control your portion size. Share a sandwich or a large salad and a couple of sides.

— Rethink your drink. High-calorie drinks can add hundreds of extra calories to your day. Watch out for fancy coffee drinks and large soft drinks. For a healthy drink try skim milk (white or chocolate), unsweetened tea or ice water.

Enjoy …

— Take time to sit and enjoy your lunch. Put down your work and enjoy a calming conversation with a friend or co-worker. When you enjoy your lunch and listen to your stomach, it is easier to stop when you are satisfied and you will avoid overeating.

Source: NC Division of Public Health


Cranberry Turkey Wraps

1 can (11 ounces) reduced-sugar mandarin oranges, drained

1 medium tart apple, peeled and diced

3 tablespoons dried cranberries

1 carton (6 ounces) fat-free plain yogurt

2 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise

8 whole wheat tortillas

8 lettuce leaves

1 ½ pounds thinly sliced deli turkey

8 slices part-skim mozzarella cheese

2 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted

In a small bowl, combine the oranges, apple and cranberries. In another bowl, combine yogurt and mayonnaise. Spread over tortillas. Layer each with lettuce, turkey, cheese, fruit mixture and pecans. Roll up tightly. Yield: 8 servings

Sandra R. Cain is the Bladen County Extension director. She can be reached at or by calling 910-862-4591.

Sandra R. Cain For Better Living R. Cain For Better Living