8 Pain-Free Lunch Habits That Melt Pounds

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition
lunch habits

Not seeing the weight loss results you were hoping to see? Your lunch habits might be holding up progress. We know: You barely have time to think about anything besides work when you’re neck deep at the office. So get creative. Put post-it-note reminders around your office. Set up reoccurring meetings so lunch and/or a walk is built into your schedule. Print this article out and hang it on your wall. Constant reminders lead to healthy lunch habits.

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Check out our top eight pain-free lunch habits that will melt pounds all day:

1. Stop Snacking at Work.

snacking at work

It’s Bob’s birthday. Silvia’s retiring. Casey has leftover chips and pasta salad from a party over the weekend. It’s not your imagination; there always seems to be food at the office, which makes keeping healthy lunch habits pretty darn tough. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found evidence: Working adults obtain nearly 1,300 calories per week from foods and beverages they eat at work. Findings indicate that “free” and “accessible” have a lot to do with why we eat. The other part is psychological: We crave distractions and creature comforts when we’re stressed. Instead of “indulging” in foods that are high in empty calories, sodium, sugar and refined grains, load up a desk drawer with healthy indulgences and remind yourself how hard you work—each and every day—to avoid the very same foods that led to weight gain and its subsequent health risks.

2. Pack Your Lunch.

pack lunch

Yes, it’s possible to order an awesome, South-Beach-approved lunch at the restaurant next door. But what happens to your lunch habits if you forget that you have a lunchtime meeting and your boss orders pizza? Or what happens when you have just 10 minutes to eat and no time to run out for food? Casey’s potato salad is back on the menu. The more you plan, the greater the chance you’ll stay on track during mealtimes—especially at lunch. The night before, pack some hard-boiled eggs, deli meat or leftover salmon. Better yet, bring a stack of South Beach entrees to fill the office freezer.

3. Split Lunch.

split lunch

Sometimes you have to eat out at lunchtime and that’s okay. In fact, that’s why South Beach Diet makes DIY meals part of its weekly regimen: You need real-life practice to change your lifestyle for good. However, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says restaurants have doubled or tripled serving sizes over the last 20 years so it’s not okay to eat half a chicken in one sitting. The next time you go out to lunch, ask a friend or your walking buddy to split a meal with you. You’ll save money and won’t be tempted to eat more than you need.

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4. Start with Water.

Drinking water

In a 2010 study published in the Journal Obesity, researchers found that middle-aged older adults who drank 500ml (16 ounces) of water before eating showed a 44 percent greater decline in weight than those who did not drink water before a meal. A similar study published in a March issue of the European Journal Nutrition reported the same results in younger subjects: 14 healthy males ate less porridge when given 568ml (19 ounces) of water before breakfast. Water increases fullness and satisfaction while decreasing hunger. Drink a glass or two before lunch, and you’ll only have eyes (and room) for your healthy meal.

5. Have Some Soup.


Classic studies at Penn State University found that eating soup before your lunchtime meal helps you eat as many as 100 fewer calories—enough to help you shed 10 pounds in a year—the rest of the day! Just be sure to skip the cream-based bowls (think broccoli cheese soup), unless you’re planning on having it as your full lunch—not just an app!

6. Cut Up Your Food.

cut up your food
Find portion control tough? Cut your food into small pieces before you eat. An Arizona State University study found that students who were given a bagel cut into small pieces ate less of the calorie-dense food and even ate less of their lunch afterwards. They were far more satisfied than the study participants who were given a whole bagel.

7. Don’t Work Through Lunch.

through lunch

When your mind isn’t on your food, you can’t enjoy it. You can’t tell if you’re still hungry or full. You overeat. How does all of this happen? You catch up on emails while you eat. You jump on a conference call with your corporate colleagues. It’s not realistic to ask you to set work aside at lunchtime every single day. But if you make a conscious effort to close your laptop or take your food to the picnic table outside most days, you can give your body exactly what—and how much—food it truly needs.

8. Go for a Walk.

lunch habits

Lunchtime walks provide an additional opportunity to burn calories throughout the day. But that’s not all lunchtime walks can do. In a January 2015 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 65 middle-aged sedentary workers walked for 30 minutes three times a week and reported the following: They were more enthusiastic, less tense, generally more relaxed, and able to cope with stress better than on afternoons when they hadn’t walked or compared to their emotions that very morning. How can a simple walk do so much? According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, part of the equation is linked to the calming, stress-reducing effect nature has on well-being. The other part is due to the endorphin release that comes after physical activity.

Start your journey to healthy living with the help of a South Beach meal plan >