JULIE STAFFORD: What’s for lunch?


By Julie Stafford • Last Updated 10:25 am on Friday, March 16, 2012

Julie Stafford

We’re having a weight loss challenge at work, which brings me to the subject of lunch. Kind of roundabout, I know. But when you’re trying to clean up your eating, the question becomes “to bring or to buy?”

I know a lot of folks who go out for lunch every single day, a routine that has its definite ups and downs. Ups include the fact that you don’t have to think about what to pack at oh-dark-hundred, when your coffee barely has settled in your veins. You also don’t have to dig deep to get creative. Do a different restaurant each day and variety is guaranteed.

The downs, of course, include the cost. I just weaned myself off the latte-every-day habit, which I always justified by saying it was my only vice. But when I really stopped to think about it, $25 or so a week for coffee ads up. Lunch every day could almost double that.

Also to consider is health. You always can replace fries with a side salad and opt for a leaner type of meat. But the truth is, I eat everything on my plate at restaurants — whether I’m hungry or not. It’s a hold over from my days as a member of the Clean Plate Club. I find going out I’m also more inclined to splurge on the things I might not make at home like hamburgers, Reuben’s and cheddar broccoli soup. Foods that should be every-now-and-then, not all the time.

I am a lunchbox girl all the way. For me it’s about control and cost. The control part has to do with being able to eat when I want, while keeping the calories within range. I bring everything from yogurt and Clementines to sliced red peppers and hummus to sandwiches and salads. Packing a lunch actually has helped me focus more on eating based on hunger rather than what time it is.

Variety is good, too, but not a deal breaker for me. I might switch what kind of bread or tortilla I use for my sandwich, what flavor salad dressing or the type of fruit I pack. And, of course, there’s the cost. Enough said.

To bring or to buy? Obviously, it’s a personal preference. But as someone who is challenged to maintain her weight, bringing my lunch is key. Now I just need to install a treadmill in my office and I’ll be set.

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