Lunch is one of the most difficult meals to plan for someone who is following the Weight Watchers program. Most often this meal is eaten while at work or on the go. Co-workers and friends offer to go out to lunch, putting peer pressure into the mix. It is possible to eat a healthy Weight Watchers appropriate lunch in any situation.
When you have no choice but to eat lunch while dining out, there are a few things you can do to ensure you don’t go over your point allotment for the day. Avoid sides or additives like butter, sour cream, mayonnaise and cheese. When choosing fast food, order off the child’s menu because these meals are closer to the size that your lunch should be. Choose salads when available, but avoid traps like “crispy” chicken and high-fat dressings. Always order dressing on the side for a prepared salad.
If dining in a restaurant, there are a few things to avoid. Stay away from the obviously fatty foods like deep fried and creamed or cheesy dishes. In Chinese restaurants, try white or brown rice instead of fried rice and a dish like chicken and broccoli that contains high levels of vegetables. Where possible, order it steamed instead of stir fried. In Italian restaurants, choose thin-crust pizza, whole wheat pastas and red sauces. Don’t be afraid to ask if there is butter or oil content in any dishes and ask for items “dry” when possible.
For no-cook packed lunches, the easiest option is a sandwich. Use whole wheat bread or wraps with lean meats and low- fat cheeses. Low-fat mayonnaise or mustard are good options for dressings. Tuna fish can be mixed with light mayonnaise, a bit of mustard and a teaspoon of relish for a tasty alternative meat. For a vegetarian option, make a coleslaw using light mayonnaise and fresh shredded cabbage. To finish the sandwich, stuff the rest full with lettuce and tomato, or to mix it up, try some avocado. Canned soups are an easy option as well, and there are many low-fat soups that have zero or one-point values. If eating canned soup, be sure to account for the salt content by drinking a little extra water for the day. Pack snacks like carrot sticks, pieces of fruit or light popcorn if a microwave is available.
You can prepare a cooked lunch the evening before. Pasta salads are an excellent choice that can be mixed with fish, meat or beans to provide sustaining protein. Cook some shells or similar pasta according to the instructions on the box. Drain and cool them. Mix with a splash of lemon juice and some light mayonnaise until just wet. Add a can of tuna or a can of your favorite beans. Throw in some of your favorite vegetables like broccoli, squash or red onions. For a twist, try the same thing using couscous or protein-rich quinoa instead of pasta. For these grains, cut the mayonnaise and simply use lemon or lime juice with a dash of olive oil.
For a very low-point lunch, fill a wrap with vegetables. Squash, mushrooms, peppers and onions can be sauteed with a small amount of olive oil. Mix them with a dash of basil for flavor. Place them into a whole wheat wrap with lettuce, tomato and a sprinkle of low-fat feta cheese.
For even less cooking, try a BLT with Canadian bacon, lettuce, tomato and a few slices of avocado. The softness of the avocado goes very nicely with the slight crunch and saltiness of the fried Canadian bacon.