Hi everyone, Dr. Junger here.
Last week, I shared with you the first meal template in our series, What do I eat?.
We received a lot of positive feedback and we’re so happy to know that simple ideas can have a real impact.
Here’s one community member’s feedback:
“Sometimes when I’m hungry I don’t make healthy decisions. Having your breakfast templates makes it easier for my mind to know what to do, even when I’m hangry.”
I love this comment because it highlights exactly what the meal templates are meant to do. They don’t provide a specific recipe, but they help us make simple decisions even when we’re stressed and hungry.
Hangry is a combination of hungry and angry. It’s a feeling most of us have had at some point when we’re stressed or tired. When our hanger sets in, the survival mechanisms in our brain click on and take over. Thinking and decision making become difficult. As a result, we are often compelled to eat whatever sugary, fatty foods are closest to us.
Having the Clean Meal templates in your mind or on your fridge is useful tool to help when a tempting situation arises. Over time, you will likely know the templates by heart, and may be able to relieve the hangry monster with some healthy, clean food.
The Importance of Lunch
Last week I mentioned that I like to help my patients transition to a cleaner diet by changing their breakfast first. Choosing clean foods for breakfast has positive residual effects throughout the day, encouraging better food choices at each meal.
Lunch has its own interesting characteristics. We are forced to do a little planning when we are on-the-go or eating at a restaurant. Also, lunch is the meal that needs to nourish us and keep us going until dinner.
If you eat too much, you can become sluggish physically and mentally. If you eat too little, four or five o’clock rolls around and the hanger sets in. This is the most common time that my patients find it challenging to eat clean. To help, I recommend you either break your lunch meal into two smaller meals or have a later afternoon snack.
Clean Lunch Ideas
The Clean Lunch templates are the meal ideas that have most commonly worked for my team and my patients. They’re satisfying and easy to bring to work or find at a local restaurant.
#1 Protein + Veggies
You can’t go wrong with this combination. In coconut oil, cook a protein like salmon, chicken, potatoes, or quinoa with veggies (i.e. spinach, chard, carrots, onions, etc.). Add some salt and spices and you’re ready to go.
#2 Wrap or Tacos
These are filling and can be packed with anything from chicken and fish, to rice, beans, and veggies. And there is no quicker way to make a meal out of leftovers than throwing them into a wrap or taco; even leftover salads work great. Make sure to use a brown rice tortilla if you are doing the Clean Cleanse, but if you’re not, organic corn tortillas work great.
Tip: Brown rice tortillas are not as soft as wheat flour tortillas. A great way to make them softer is to warm them in the oven at 350F for one to two minutes. Or if you’re at work, put a tortilla between two damp paper towels and heat it in a microwave for thirty seconds to a minute.
#3 Rice + Veggies
Simple and tasty, rice with veggies is a great meal to make in bulk. Use it for multiple lunches each week, creating variety by switching seasonings. Mustards, hot sauces, gluten-free tamari, curry paste, and spices work great. Rice and veggies can also be used to fill up your wrap or tacos.
#4 Entree-Sized Salad
Salads are excellent bases for clean meals. But we’re not talking about small salads you get as appetizers at restaurants, the ones with a lonely tomato slice, limp iceberg lettuce, and a few carrot shavings. We mean a salad that is a satisfying meal.
To do this, you need to layer it. Start with your dark leafy greens, then add your veggies, protein (i.e. chicken, salmon, sardines, quinoa, beans), and fats (i.e. avocado, nuts, seeds, dressings).
At the Clean office, we like to have a variety of fun toppings on hand to make each salad unique. Some of our favorites are dulse, nutritional yeast, spirulina, and spices.
We’ll tackle the four o’clock rut with some clean snack ideas. Have a great week and let us know if you find these meal ideas helpful.
To your health,
Alejandro Junger M.D.
P.S. If you missed our Clean Breakfast Ideas, check them out here.