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Healthy Lunches That Work for You!. Packing healthy lunches for kids is important, but it’s just as important to pack a healthy lunch for ourselves.

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Packing healthy lunches for kids is important, but it’s just as important to pack a healthy lunch for ourselves.
  • Lunch is a great way to make sure you’re getting enoughnutrientsto stay healthy, while fuelling your mind and body so that you have enough energy to be alert and productive all afternoon.
In February 2007, Health Canada released a new version of Canada’s Food Guide – Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide.
  • The Food Guide is based on the latest scientific evidence and gives individuals and families advice on what and how much food to eat.
Following the recommendations in Canada’s Food Guide when planning your meals will help to reduce your risk of:
          • Obesity
          • Type 2 diabetes
          • Heart disease
          • Certain types of cancer
  • and promote overall health and vitality.
Canada’s Food Guide can be a great tool to use when planning your lunch.


to learn more about Canada’s Food Guide and to get ideas on applying the recommendations to your own situations.

Timeis one of the biggest challenges to eating healthy meals.
  • A recent survey says that 31% of Canadians admit to eating on the go.
Other challenges to eating a healthy lunch include:
    • Being bored with the choices available for lunch
    • No time to pack a lunch at home
    • Many vending machines don’t have healthy choices
    • No cafeteria or restaurant close to work
    • No fridge at work to store a lunch in
Bringing a lunchfrom home is one strategy for dealing with some of these challenges.
  • When you bring your lunch you save time by not having to leave work to buy your lunch.
  • You also don’t have to rely on vending machines or restaurants that may not have a healthy selection of foods.

Packing an icepack will keep your lunch cold if there is no fridge.

Packing a healthy lunchdoesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult…
  • Remembering a few key points will help you to pack a tasty meal that meets Canada’s Food Guide recommendations and keeps you going until dinner.
Go for three…
  • Aim to have at least three of the four food groups as part of your lunch.
Add variety with veggies…
  • Choose dark green and orange vegetablesto meet the guidelines in Canada’s Food Guide.

There are lots of choices – choose ones you like!

Here are suggestions to include more vegetables in your lunch:
    • Slice up carrots, cucumber, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, or celery.
    • Bring hummus or low fat dressing to dip raw vegetables in.
    • Order a side salad when you eat out.
    • Bring leftovers that include vegetables such as stir-fry, soups, casseroles.
    • Include lots of vegetables on sandwiches such as spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and onions.
Have fun with fruit…
  • Fruit makes the perfect dessert or snack. It is easy to prepare, pack, and naturally sweet.









Canned, dried, and fresh fruit all count!

Try something new for a change:

Focus on whole grains…
  • Experiment with different types of whole grain bread, pita, tortillas, and crackers.
  • Choose a bread that lists “whole grain” or “whole” followed by the name of the grain on the Ingredients List.
Some whole grain ideas to try in your lunch:
    • Rye or pumpernickel bread
    • Whole grain bagels and pitas
    • Whole grain crackers or rice cakes
    • Low fat muffins
    • Brown rice
    • Whole grain pasta
    • Low fat popcorn
Milk matters…
  • Choose skim, 1% or 2% milk to go with your lunch. Both low fat chocolate and white milk contain calcium and vitamin D, which help to prevent osteoporosis in adults.

More than two thirds of adults don’t drink the 500 mL or 2 cups of milk we should be drinking each day!

Protein power…
  • The Milk and Alternatives and Meat and Alternatives groups are good sources of protein.
  • Go for low fat and lean choices.

Protein helps you to feel full longer and keeps you fuelled throughout the afternoon.

Choose yogurt with less than 2% milk fat (M.F) and cheese with less than 20% M.F.
  • Choose turkey, chicken, ham, tuna, roast beef, egg, or hummus to fill your sandwich instead of higher fat salami or bologna .
  • Go easy on the higher-fat additions like butter, margarine, mayonnaise. Instead, try mustard, chutney, salsa, or BBQ sauce.
Safety first…
  • Keep your lunch cold with an ice pack, frozen juice box or by storing it in a fridge.
  • Be sure foods are steaming hot when they come out of the thermos or microwave.
Try the following tips to make packing a lunch easier:
    • Buy single servings of yogurt, low fat cheese, applesauce, and crackers for easy packing.
    • Keep a variety of whole grain products in your pantry or freezer.
    • Have canned tuna, fruit packed in juice or water, and pre-cut vegetables ready to go.
    • Pack your lunch the night before.
    • Pack leftovers in single-serve containers for easy packing in the morning.

If you find that you don’t have time to pack a lunch, just remember how much time you spend standing in line waiting to buy lunch!

On days when you have to eat out for lunch, think about:
    • Passing on dessert or choosing fruit.
    • Choosing water or milk to drink.
    • Getting vegetables wherever you can – a side salad or on a sandwich.
    • Choosing non-fried foods such as baked or grilled chicken or fish.
    • Going without butter, margarine, mayonnaise, gravy, or cheese or ask for these on the side and just add a little for flavour.
Do you find yourself hitting the vending machine for unhealthy late afternoon munchies?
  • Opt for healthier selections from the vending machine or pack a healthy snack to get you through until dinner such as:
  • Fruit
  • Yogurt
  • Veggies
  • Low-fat cheese and crackers
  • Milk
  • Low fat muffin
  • Low fat granola bar
  • Handful of dried fruit and nuts
Next time you have lunch…
  • use Canada’s Food Guide to create a healthy lunch that works for you!
  • Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide
  • Canadian Health Network - Healthy Lunches to Go
  • Dietitians of Canada
Other Resources
  • Latest Health Issues newsletterEating Well Your Way
  • Latest wellness brochure4 Your Health
  • Other electronic presentationReading Nutrition Labels
For more information on all of the Working Toward Wellness initiatives, visit our website: