I was running some errands last week and I knew I would be out shopping over the lunch hour. I had basically three choices to consider. I could wait and eat when I got home, grab a quick bite through a drive-thru or sandwich shop, or bring food. I have coached many people who would not have thought twice about these options and would have headed out the door with the list of errands on their mind. But packing a sandwich is not a novel idea. The fourth Earl from Sandwich, John Montagu, was credited for the sandwich concept when he asked a servant for a piece of meat between 2 slices of bread avoiding an interruption of his poker game and getting grease on his playing cards. Sandwiches can be taken anywhere and can be eaten while keeping your hands clean.
Let’s look more closely at my choices. I was heading out around 10 that morning and I knew that I would not get back until mid-afternoon. I could have powered through the shopping but I knew I would be tempted by some of the chips and cheese cookies at Home Goods or come home starved and grab what ever came quickest like cheese and crackers or a can of nuts. Not that either of those are a horrible choice but with an ounce of cheese containing 110 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat (almost half of my daily allotment of saturated fat) and a quarter cup of nuts having 200 calories, good fat or not, I’m going to be eating more than just a serving of either one when I’m that starving.
Knowing that my errands were going to take me by some of my favorite fast food restaurants where those crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, lightly salted morsels of french fries, were going to be wafting in the air as I drove by, I decided it would be best to pack my lunch. At least keeping my hunger at bay, I was going to fortify my resistance to temptation.
A Sandwich, The Perfect Lunch
So what could I take that would be quick, nourishing and fulfilling? Why a peanut butter sandwich, a fruit, and a seltzer water, of course! I’m getting a perfect amount of protein, fiber, good fat and carbohydrates and not tempting myself with fries and diet sodas, and chips or crackers. And I’m avoiding the huge food fest when I get home. Eating a bunch of chips or crackers would be like putting a whole bunch of soft wood on my digestion fire causing a high quick burn, followed by smoldering embers of hunger two hours later. Eating a burger and fries would be like putting a whole bunch of knotty soft wood that would pop, crackle, burn quickly and again just leave me smoldering with an unsettled stomach. Not eating for 6 or 7 hours would be like not putting any wood on my digestion fire, leaving me with in the cold dark with no energy and pangs of hunger that would make me voracious when I got home. Packing my sandwich and fruit would be like putting seasoned hard wood on my digestion fire, creating a nice slow burn, keeping my hunger satisfied and in control throughout my day of errands.
What’s In My Lunch
The USDA recommends for a 2000 calorie diet 25 grams of fiber, no more than 300 grams of carbohydrates, no more than 16 grams of saturated fat (no more than 7% of daily calories should come from saturated fat), and about .8 grams of protein per kilogram of weight. The key to avoiding a huge blood sugar spike with a crash later and to staying full is to eat protein, a good amount of fiber, some good fat and not too many carbohydrates at every meal. A lunch should deliver about 1/4 to 1/3 of one’s total daily calories and should contain about 1/4 to 1/3 of the other recommendations for fiber, carbohydrates, protein and fat. My lunch (see chart at the right) of a peanut butter sandwich and a fruit comes close to meeting all these criteria. The protein is less than 1/3 but fine for my weight and with the usual deck of cards recommendation of meat or fish at dinner I will get about 30 grams of protein at dinner with meat and fish delivering about 7 grams of protein per ounce. This lunch takes 2 minutes to make, doesn’t need any refrigeration and doesn’t kill the budget. It keeps me from temptation and overeating and it keeps my body’s furnace running smoothly and at peak performance. It can also make a great breakfast. Isn’t this the obvious choice out of the three choices? What are you going to do on your next long day of errands? Start packing your lunch or packing pounds, your choice!