Jackie Conn of Weight Watchers of Maine shares some ideas for preparing healthy lunches for the work week.

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If you have always been a lunch skipper, you may want to consider the benefits to your diet by eating lunch. A noon meal helps to keep your blood sugar level from dipping too low making you feel exhausted, starving, and maybe even a little nauseated by 2:30 - 3:00 in the afternoon. You might also "forget" about the goodies you grabbed from the vending machine to fight off the afternoon slump, but your body is counting those calories and the grand total might easily be more than a tasty lunch.

If you normally eat lunch but decided that it was an easy meal to cut to conserve calories, you are making a mistake. Cutting meals usually backfires for a variety of reasons including eating more calories through Bites, Licks, and Tastes (BLTs) to slowing your metabolism so that more of your dinner calories get stored as body fat rather than burned for fuel. To cut calories, reduce the calories in your meals; do not cut out meals altogether.

We are motivated by two basic urges - pleasure and pain. Weight loss goals are created by your seeking pleasure. It feels great to be at goal! We quit diets because of the pain they inflict on us. In other words, your lunches may be trips to favorite restaurants with friends and co-workers when you aren't really caring about your weight. When you decide to lose weight you stop the pleasant lunchtime dining and instead remain in the office by yourself everyday to zap a frozen diet meal. That's pain! And that is enough to make you quit. Successful weight control is learning how to eat lunch with friends, fully enjoy your meal, and make the calories work with your overall daily plan.

Nobody should have to give up good eating to lose weight. Indeed, with a little bit of planning and organization you can be enjoying your food more than when you just grabbed whatever was handy. Cook dinner tonight with tomorrow's lunch in mind. Cook a bigger roast than you need to serve your family. Throw in extra pasta and extra vegetables into the pot. Now you have ingredients to make really good lunches for the next few days with practically no effort. Set aside some time on the weekend or evening to prep fruits and vegetables so that making soups, salads or sandwiches is a snap in the morning.

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