On the Table

A healthy way to skip lunch

August 20, 2013 

It’s OK to get creative about ways to cut calories to control your weight. There isn’t just one right way to do it.

Different approaches work for different people, and what works for you may change from time to time.

I’ve written about intermittent fasting as one way to cut back. Another approach is to eat breakfast and dinner but limit what you eat during the day.

It works for some people, because being busy at work may be enough of a distraction that they focus less on feeling hungry. If you keep busy, you may be able to ignore cues in your environment – such as the sight of a vending machine or fast-food take-out bag – that trigger many people to eat.

Instead, eat one to three small snacks during the day at times when your stomach starts to rumble and you need the lift. Just 50 to 100 calories can be enough to stifle the hunger for a couple of hours and allow you to power through the day.

But don’t do it with those little 100-calorie bags of cookies or snack chips, and stay away from vending machines. Stay away from such overly processed foods and stick with high quality, whole foods instead.

Fruits and vegetables are especially good choices because they’re rich in fiber and fluid and are relatively low in calories. Examples of good choices that hit the 50- to 100-calorie mark include:

• Fresh fruit. One piece of any kind of fruit will do – or bring a small bag of berries, pineapple pieces or cantaloupe cubes.

• 4-ounce cups of low-fat yogurt.

• 2 tablespoons of hummus and some carrot sticks.

• A small handful of almonds, eight to 16 of them.

• A single serving of a leftover salad or side dish from last night’s dinner at home.

I’m not suggesting that you work all day without a break. Use your lunch hour to get some fresh air and go for a walk.

And when it comes time to head home later in the day, don’t leave feeling famished. Late afternoon may be another time for a strategic snack if it helps stave off an eating binge when you get home.

Suzanne Hobbs is a registered dietitian and clinical associate professor of health policy and management and nutrition at UNC-Chapel Hill. Reach her at suzanne@onthetable.net; follow her on Twitter, @suzannehobbs.

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