Smart lunch choices for a busy afternoon

When you're sitting at a desk, it's easy to grab whatever is quick, but that could set you back a bit later on in the day.

What you eat or don't eat plays a big part in how you'll feel and perform in as little as two hours. So let's lunch like the afternoon is the most important part of the day.

For instance, if you'll be tied to your desk until the sky grows dark, think about dark foods to fill your plate -- dark veggies that is. Leafy greens or broccoli, lean protein, and a small portion of healthy fats will help keep you alert. This is not the day for chips and high carbs, as they can make you sleepy.

Giving a presentation? Look for something grilled or baked. Salmon is a nice choice paired with a sweet potato. The omega-three fats in fish have been shown to boost mood while the sweet potato is a fiber-packed food that stabilizes blood sugar and holds hunger pangs at bay.

How about a little post-work exercise? Look for a combo plate of both protein and carbohydrates, like chicken and pasta, even healthy pizza. The protein helps store needed fuel in muscles for staying power, while the carbs provides the energy for a cardio blast.

And what about a day that ends with a big dinner with drinks and dessert? Lunch should be light yet substantial. Shrimp, vegetables and rice are nice choices. Low-cal protein, filling veggies, with low-sugar carbohydrates should help keep your body energized.

And having a small 150-calorie snack at about 3 or 4 o'clock -- again with a bit of protein involved like edamame, low-fat cottage cheese, an apple with string cheese, or a small amount of peanut butter -- might help keep you from overeating when you get to the big event.


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