Brown Bag It!
Your Weight Loss Solution: Brown-Bag It
YOUR DAILY DIET TIP
By James Beckerman, M.D.
Published February 25, 2014
Studies show that more than half of working Americans buy two or more of their weekday lunches rather than bring them from home, and overweight people are more likely to eat out. The most commonly cited reasons for buying lunch during the workday are based on misperceptions about convenience and cost, and the result is that people eat fast food.
Fast food, unfortunately, counts for almost half of lunches purchased during the workday. Even with expanded menus, including apple slices and healthful salads, people more often turn to French fries and burgers, which supply too much salt, saturated fat and calories. Add a soda, and you’re easily looking at more than 1,000 calories, with 75% of your salt intake for the day. That’s just for lunch.
Here are the advantages to bringing your own lunch:
1. Cost savings. When you buy food at the grocery store, you are in effect buying in bulk, which saves you money in the long run. When buying lunch, also consider the costs you don’t even think about, such as tipping in a restaurant, driving your car and parking. They add up.
2. Convenience. You can pack some leftovers from last night’s dinner, so all you need is a microwave. Prepare the next day’s lunch as part of your nighttime routine, or do it while getting the kids off to school or packing your bag for the day.
3. Control over your portions. When you bring your own lunch, the food you bring is the food you eat. It doesn’t allow for a last-minute decision to order appetizers or dessert, and it does not require willpower. What’s in the bag is all you get, and the portions you serve yourself tend to be much more reasonable than the ones you pick out from a drive-thru menu.
4. Calories. When you make your own lunch, you control the amount of spread on your sandwich and dressing on your salad (both of which are used in excess in restaurants). And unless you have a deep fryer in your office, you can eliminate trans fats entirely by bringing lunch from home. If you typically eat a fast-food lunch five days a week, this change could mean a difference of 2,500 calories in just one week.
But you still have to make good choices. Concentrate on whole-grain breads and low-salt and low-fat deli meats, and avoid cheese if you can. Use mustard instead of mayonnaise and bring low-calorie dressing for your salads. Load up on carrots, green pepper slices and jicama – anything with a healthy crunch. Pack fruit instead of cookies for dessert.