The lunch break is a very valuable part of the workday. Unfortunately, most of us don’t take it seriously.
Research shows an astonishing 65 percent of working Americans tend to eat lunch at their desks, in front of screens. Or worse, many sometimes skip the meal altogether.
It’s time to stop wasting that precious time and make it work for you instead. We turned to six health and fitness experts to ask what they eat and how they spend their midday meals. Not only are their lunchtime habits healthier, their breaks are also linked with boosts in overall productivity. How’s that for a little motivation?
Below, take a look at how healthy people utilize their lunch hour — delicious recipes included.
1. They prepare their lunches beforehand.
“Lunch is one of my favorite parts of the day. I try to take my lunch outside so that I can get some fresh air and stretch my legs. Food-wise, I like to prep my lunches on the weekends, so that it’s easy to make during the week. My go-to is a Buddha bowl of sorts because I love mixing flavors and textures. This usually includes a whole grain, a lean meat, tons of veggies and toppings galore.” — Lee Hersh, founder of Fit Foodie Finds
What’s for lunch? A roasted chickpea bowl with cilantro avocado dressing. Get the recipe here.
2. They avoid heavy meals that will make them feel sluggish.
“I like my lunches to be very clean, full of fruits, veggies and lean protein. I don’t want something super heavy that will leave me feeling sluggish when I’m back at my desk. I need something fresh and fulfilling enough to give me lots of energy for my intense day.” — Cassey Ho, YouTube fitness guru and founder of Blogilates
What’s for lunch? A green wrap “because it’s full of veggies and tastes delicious with hummus.” Get the recipe here.
3. They make it a point to get away from their desk.
“The most important thing I do during my lunch break to keep myself healthy is to take a walk. I get one in every day, no matter what. Some days the walk might be as short as 10 minutes, depending on how busy I am, but getting out even briefly always refreshes and rejuvenates me for the rest of the day.” — Anne Mauney, registered dietician and founder of fANNEtastic Food
What’s for lunch? A big grain salad bowl, which includes a carb such as rice or quinoa, vegetables, protein and a healthy fat like avocado, nuts or cheese. Then the bowl is topped with dressing. Get Mauney’s Mexican quinoa salad bowl recipe here.
4. They fit in a full workout.
“During my lunch break I usually work out for about 30 to 45 minutes, no matter how jammed my schedule is. I normally go for a run or I do one of my own workouts that I post on Instagram. They are short and effective workouts that can be done anywhere.” — Will Arrufat, Nike trainer and certified personal trainer
What’s for lunch? Sweet potatoes with grilled chicken and a kale salad or a burger with no cheese and a side salad. “I like to keep it very simple and clean,” Arrufat said. “Drink of choice: Water.”
5. They eat organic, locally grown foods.
“I love to eat fresh fish and homegrown vegetables for lunch. I feel this combo of lean protein and nutritious veggies gives me energy and stamina for the rest of the day without weighing me down or making me sleepy.” — Kimi Werner, professional spearfisher and sustainable living advocate
What’s for lunch? A caprese salad with homegrown organic tomatoes and fresh smoked marlin (or your choice of wild-caught fish). Get the salad recipe here.
What a happy kitchen! Going diving for me is like going to the grocery store and these are the exact fish that I had on my list, hoping to bring home for dinner. So stoked! Aside from the ginger and garlic, every ingredient in this beautiful spread was foraged in the wild or a friend's garden and that just makes it all seem like art to me. I love the natural beauty of these super foods and love the spontaneous challenge of fusing them together into a delicious and meaningful meal for friends. Thanks so much for getting me in the water @kume_808 @mic_strong #wildfoods #hawaii @patagoniaprovisions
6. They work on their flexibility.
“During my lunch breaks, I spend five to 10 minutes giving my joints, muscles and tendons a little love with mobility drills for my hips, back and upper body, often using a foam roller. I [do] a squat position and rock side to side to open up my hips and I also perform the ‘spiderman stretch‘ to decompress my lower back and increase hip mobility. This will help increase your performance during your workouts, prevent injuries and reduce pain. [Doing this] during the middle of the day will also boost your energy levels.” — Idalis Velazquez, personal trainer, fitness nutritionist and author of The 30 Second Body: Eat Clean, Train Dirty & Live Hard
What’s for lunch? Lemon chicken with sautéed asparagus, quinoa salad and avocado. Get the chicken and asparagus recipe here.
#TransformationTuesday We are the directors of our mindset! When we place our focus on growing, improving our body image, increasing confidence and getting our bodies stronger, we begin to set empowering goals that boost our confidence and build up our energy levels! Make it a great day xx. #HappyTuesday #ivfitness #stronger #wellness #positivemindset #livelifeinshape #healthylifestyle #fitnessgoals #getyoursweaton
7. They turn last night’s leftovers into the next day’s meal.
“I’m a huge fan of enjoying leftovers. With an active toddler running around and running my business, there isn’t much time to prepare my own lunch. I make a point to make extra food when I cook dinner the night before. Then I simply portion leftovers into glass containers that we can enjoy the next day.” — Angela Liddon, founder of Oh She Glows and New York Times best-selling cookbook author