Lunch: Meal Prep for Better Type 2 Diabetes Management
Consistently eating a healthy lunch can be difficult. You’re in the middle of your busy day and your stomach starts to grumble. What’s to eat? Fat-laden carryout? Carb-filled snacks from the vending machine? Or a delicious, balanced meal from home? With meal prepping you can make sure you have a healthy and yummy lunch ready-to-go, that helps you manage your type 2 diabetes better.
Benefits of lunch meal prep
Meal prep is a two-step process that most people get done in a couple of hours at the beginning of the week.
With meal prep you:
- Prepare your week’s meal in advance.
- Store those meals in ready-to-go portions.
Meal prep can save you time and energy when it comes to planning and cooking meals. You get to choose the dishes and ingredients that work best for you. More importantly, it makes it easier to consistently eat healthy meals that support managing your type 2 diabetes.
For lunch, the basic recipe for a healthy meal is low-carb vegetables + lean protein + healthy fat.
Lunch meal prep ideas
With meal prep, you don’t need to stray far from traditional lunchtime favorites like sandwiches and salad. Here are some lunch meal prep ideas for managing type 2 diabetes, to get you started.
Deconstruct a sandwich
You might have seen this approach called a bistro box. All of the ingredients that go into a traditional sandwich are made bite-sized so that you can eat them without the bread. Bite-sized pieces of meat and cheese are packed with sliced veggies. Hummus, salsa, or guacamole used as a dip or condiment add flavor and variety without being full of sugar.
Use a fork to stack the ingredients into a single, flavorful bite. Or use lettuce leaves as a wrap in place of bread. The result is a new, healthier take on a lunchtime classic.
Make a meal into a salad
With low-carb vegetables being the base for lunch-making, a salad is an obvious choice. Think beyond the basic lettuce and tomato. Cabbage slaw has a nice crunch to it. Spiralized carrots and zucchini make for a colorful noodle-like base.
For a protein, look beyond the plain chicken breast or boiled egg. Chickpeas are a legume that work well in salads. Baked tofu is another unexpected protein. And, of course, you can use a fish like salmon or canned tuna.
The dressing or sauce you choose can bring variety to your lunch even if you are using the same base and protein for several days. Having a balsamic and olive oil one day, spicy salsa on another, and a creamy Tzatziki on a third day give each day’s lunch a distinct deliciousness.
Tips for lunch meal prepping with type 2 diabetes
Here are some tips for meal prepping for lunch:
Avoid the boredom that comes from eating the same thing day after day
Make at least two different meals for the week. Or vary the ingredients so that each meal is unique. Consistently eating healthy meals doesn’t mean you’re doomed to endless repetition or that your food can’t be interesting.
Choose and prepare meals that easily fit into your lunch routine
Think about when and where you normally eat lunch. Do you eat at your desk or in the lunchroom? Do you have access to a microwave? Do you take a break from work or do you work while eating? Choosing meals that smoothly fit in your routine will make it easier to consistently enjoy the healthy meals you’ve prepared.
Be flexible about your lunch routine
Lunch can be an opportunity to socialize with your friends and colleagues. While most of the time this means joining your friends in the lunchroom, sometimes it can mean going out to eat. It’s okay to skip your prepared meal once in a while and enjoy a meal out with friends. Your goal is to be consistent, not perfect, in your healthy eating habits.
Meal prep makes for healthy and delicious lunch every day
Meal prepping lunch can help you consistently get the healthy, delicious food you need in the middle of your day. Try it. After a couple of weeks look for its positive impact on your type 2 diabetes management.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your diabetes?