In the (Lunch) Bag

One of the most important (and difficult!) aspects of healthy eating is maintaining your diet of choice even when you are busy and away from home. This takes planning. This takes preparation. This takes huge insulated lunch bags:) But it can be done!


Most people who pack a daily healthy meal fall into one of two categories: they prepare dinner the night before and pack leftovers for the following day or they prepare lunch for several days or a week at a time. I fall into the second category. I choose to eat simply in the evenings and do all of my meal preparation for the week on Sundays.

The contents of my lunch bad are influenced by the seasons and the sales. I bookmark recipes that interest me although I also fall back on old favorites. I make sure that my choices are balanced for nutrition and flavor (my fiance often jokes that I must use the rainbow as inspiration as he sees my piles of red, orange, purple and green veggies filling the counters). If I have a more rigorous week ahead, I plan for more filling foods. If I have been indulging recently, I may cut back.

Every weekend, I tame mounds of raw ingredients and I transform them into neatly stacked Tupperware that fills the lower half of the fridge.

Every weekend, I will share the contents of my lunch bag, the recipes or their locations and the reasoning behind my choices.

I hope that you can find some inspiration and motivation to fill your own lunch bag and please feel free to share any of your favorite lunch bag recipes as well!

*All of my recipes will be gluten free and vegetarian to fill my needs. Most can be modified to add meat or gluten. Please share your tips and tweaks!

** I am no food photographer. Again, busy:) This is real life, folks!


Disorderly Conduct

We tend to see eating disorders as all or none; you either have one or you don’t. The reality is that unhealthy relationships with food can be much more nuanced and subtle than a full-blown diagnosis of anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder. Eating disorders are very serious, even deadly, and should be addressed by a professional support team. However, many people exhibit signs of disordered eating yet never develop an eating disorder and may never realize that they have developed a damaging attitude towards food. Even though disordered eating may never prove life threatening and may not progress into a full blown eating disorder, it should still be addressed so that optimal health, both mental and physical, can be obtained.

Used Plate

I had my own run in with disordered eating in high school. I was coming off of the common stage in teenage girls where I added body fat to my frame. I was self conscious of my new curves and wanted to keep them in check. I started exercising and became more conscious of what I was eating. Always a good student, I approached fitness with much the same determination and research as I did a school project. The accepted wisdom of the time was that a low fat diet was best.

In my 14 year old brain, I assumed that if low fat was good, no fat had to be even better. I restricted my fat intake to 10 grams or less a day. Healthy? Not even close. I ate tons of products (note, I didn’t say foods!) that were modified to be low fat. Of course, that fat was replaced with chemicals and sugar. Not so good. i remember eating salads made with fat free dressing and fat free cheese. Blech!

I wasn’t alone in this “diet.” A classmate of mine lived on Fruit Loops (fat free!) for over a year. I had discussions with another friend on how to mitigate the dry skin and hair loss that comes with an extremely low fat diet.

All along, I thought I was doing the “right” thing. Dean Ornish was on all the magazine covers touting the heart disease reversal that occurred with a low fat diet. All of the research seemed to point to fat as the ultimate diet demon. I just took it a little too far.

This was not an eating disorder. I never dropped any significant weight. I did not restrict calories. I rarely binged and never purged. Yet, I obviously had a disordered view of food, classifying it as “good” or “bad” and eliminating an entire macronutrient from my diet.

I started to shift when a friend of mine, who was starting to compete in bodybuilding contests, would eat peanuts as a snack at school. I was horrified. Did he not realize that those had 16 grams of fat per serving! But then I looked at him. He was lean. Leaner than me. He was strong, carrying muscle along his entire, previously skinny, frame. Maybe he was on to something.

I slowly started introducing fat back into my diet. It was scary at first. I pictured my arteries clogging like gutters in the fall. I figured that I would gain weight and maybe even have to increase a pants size.

Much to my surprise, the opposite occurred. My weight stayed about the same but I became leaner. I no longer woke up starving in the middle of the night and I was satisfied after eating in a way I hadn’t been before. It took a couple years, but I eventually made peace with fat and with food in general. It’s neither bad nor good. It’s just fuel.

Disordered eating tends to follow the current dietary trends. I don’t see too many people who restrict fat like I did since low fat is not in vogue. I do see quite a few people who demonize carbs like I did with fat, figuring if low carb is good, no carb must be even better.   There are people who eschew food completely in the name of “cleansing” and exist on nothing but juices and broths for days or weeks at a time. Others take vegetarianism to the extreme and consume only raw, vegan foods. Some people operate between extremes: all you can eat one week and diet shakes the next.

While none of these ways of eating are “wrong,” they all have a black and white view of food that does not allow much room for variety and complete nutrition. Going vegan is not a sign of disordered eating on its own, but going vegan as a way of cutting out foods that you fear will make you fat is another situation entirely. Disordered eating is as much about the motivation behind the diet as it is about the food on your plate.

It’s your body; you get to choose what you put in it. Are you making your choices based upon fear and restriction or health and balance? It’s never too late to develop a healthy relationship with food and bring some order to your plate.


Create Your Own Advertising

We are constantly bombarded with messages from food companies about what they think we should be eating. They paper our computers, televisions, billboards, and even our t-shirts with their messages. Do you give your messages the same about of space and attention?

A Hamburger, fries, and a coke from a fast-foo...

A Hamburger, fries, and a coke from a fast-food restaurant. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why do we give the power to decide what we read, see, and hear over to others? Why do we let huge corporations tell us what to eat? Try taking control of your own advertising; surround yourself with the messages that you want to read, see, and hear.
Think like a marketer; how can you place reminders and suggestions in your environment that will encourage you to consume the foods that you want to eat? Can you display fruits and vegetables (or at least pictures of them) in your kitchen? Can you organize the display cabinet marauding as your pantry to showcase the healthiest foods? If you’re prone to stops at fast food restaurants, can you create your own healthy mini-billboard in your car to encourage you to make better choices?

Be your own advertiser and take control of what you consume. No new degrees required.