New Year Health Challenge Week 9: Eat A Healthy Lunch

healthy lunch salad

Welcome to Week 9 of the ten-week New Year Health Challenge, courtesy of Christine Kling of Body Basics LLC in Boise ID.

On average, men and women need between 400-600 calories for lunch as fuel to sustain a hectic working day. Skipping this meal may leave you lacking energy and the ability to concentrate. On the other hand, if you eat too many calories, you can become sluggish and even fall asleep.

When to Eat

Enjoy your lunch about one to three hours after your morning snack. If you eat breakfast around 7:30 and your morning snack around 10, aim to eat lunch around 12. If you exercise at noon, enjoy your lunch when you get back around 1. If you tend to forget to eat because you’re so busy, set an alarm on your phone or computer to remind you to stop and nosh.

What to Eat

To ensure your body is getting a good combination of nutrients make sure your plate looks colorful:

Orange/Red foods contain beta-carotene, which turns into Vitamin A.

Green foods are the powerhouse foods, which contain potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C.

Yellow foods are high in alpha- and beta-carotenes, which have been linked to increasing immunity, decreasing the risk of some cancers and promoting healthy eyes and skin.

Blue/Purple foods get their bright hue from anthocyanins, which have been linked with antioxidants and anti-aging properties in the body.

Lunch Suggestions

The ideal lunch should contain a mixture of vitamins, minerals, fat, carbohydrates and protein. Here are a few helpful ideas:

Whole Grains

A good lunch will provide enough energy to sustain you throughout the afternoon. The key is not to eat too many carbohydrates and to eat the right kinds. ‘Gorging on carbohydrate rich foods such as white bread, pasta and potatoes will make you sleepy,’ says Catherine Collins of the British Dietetic Association. ‘This is because large bursts of carbohydrates encourage the body to produce serotonin, the chemical which causes lethargy.’

Instead, fill up on whole grain carbohydrates, such as whole grain pasta, brown rice and quinoa. These release energy more slowly than white carbohydrates and are also high in B vitamins and fiber.


If you want to shed the pounds, avoid salads with mayonnaise. For the best nutritional value, choose salads containing red peppers and tomatoes, foods high in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that may help protect cells from damage.


Soup can be an excellent dish for lunch because it is warming, nutritious and sometimes low in calories. Mixed vegetable or minestrone soup contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Nutritionists recommend five different vegetables a day, and soup is an easy way to achieve this goal.

Beware of canned soups with lots of sodium. Homemade is the best way to go.

Beans and couscous

Legumes such as chickpeas, kidney beans and black beans are great sources of protein. They also contain soluble fibers, which help keep our guts healthy by providing ‘friendly bacteria’ to defend against infection. Legumes are beneficial to the heart, because their fibers help remove cholesterol from the body.

Challenge guidelines

You’ll receive one point per day each time your lunch plate has at least 4 different colors on it! You also get points each day if you drink enough watersleep enough and cut out the sugarexercise,  eat a balanced breakfastskip the alcoholmeditate and eat healthy snacks.

Total amount of points possible at end of week is 63.

Click here for Challenge Log

About Christine:

Christine Kling is co-owner of Body Basics and privileged to share the business with her husband, James. Her passion for health and fitness began as a teen playing sports (basketball and tennis) and dancing, which led her to become a personal trainer and group exercise instructor at the age of 17. Struggling with a thyroid disorder and adrenal fatigue from Hashimoto’s auto-immune disorder also increased her love for helping people in the area of nutrition. She has experienced first-hand how diet and exercise can beat the odds! Youth Fitness, Pre-natal/Post-natal Fitness, Senior Fitness, Mat Sciences, and Indoor Cycling have been her areas of continued study and experience. A favorite quote of hers is “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you!”

Photo courtesy of Food Network.

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