No #saddesklunch here — here’s how you can make a happy gut lunch bowl and be the envy of your coworkers.
Whether you’re a newbie to the lunch bowl game, or you’re a long-time veteran to these versatile meal planning-friendly dishes, you’ll love today’s article on how to make a lunch bowl that gives your digestion a little hug with each bite.
All Hail Lunch Bowls
Lunch bowls are an incredible option when you’re making healthy eating a priority. They’re simple to assemble, very versatile, and they have the ability satisfy you with nourishing whole-food ingredients in a creative way. There’s no right or wrong way to make a healthy lunch bowl, making it an ideal healthy meal option for even the cooking-challenged or easily-bored with routine.
The ultimate lunch bowl celebrates an amazing balance of carbohydrates, fiber, protein and healthy fats. It’s a versatile meal idea that will encourage you to utilize what’s in season, while also incorporating pantry staples to maximize the nutrition content that will have you feeling your best all day long.
1 protein + 1-2 carbohydrates (including fruit) + 1-2 healthy fats + 2-3 vegetables + something fermented
Whether you’re making lunch for yourself, your partner or your kids, you can put this simple “equation” into place. It takes the guesswork out of mealtime and ensures that you’re getting a solid combination of macronutrients each and every time.
Also, a secret to staying inspired with lunch bowls, and not falling into a lunchtime rut is to vary your ingredients often! Discover the basic framework, along with the science that backs them, with easy options to get started today.
No #saddesklunch here — learn the framework to make a happy gut lunch bowl. #nutritionstripped
Carbohydrates play an important role in providing your body with energy to function throughout your day. Carbs are digested and broken down into glucose that’s then used to produce adenosine triphosphate, known as ATP. Your cells use ATP to function tasks in the systems throughout your body. (1)
While carbs are most often associated with foods like bread, crackers, and pasta, this macronutrient can actually be found in dozens of foods: fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, legumes and dairy products. You can read more about why carbohydrates are important to your everyday nutrition here.
Carbohydrate examples include sweet potatoes, quinoa, wild rice, whole grain pasta, plantains, fruits, corn, peas, sprouted bread.
Studies have shown that higher amounts of fiber in our diets can be linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. (2) It plays an important role in gut health too, as it aids in healthy digestion. By drawing fluids from the body, it can help move foods quicker through the digestive tract.
Fiber comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble, and are all beneficial to health. (3) Soluble fiber dissolves in water and can help lower glucose levels and blood cholesterol. These sources include nuts, beans, lentils, apples, and berries. The second form, insoluble fiber, does not dissolve in water. Insoluble fiber can help food move through your digestive system while promoting regularity in bowel movements. These sources include wheat, whole wheat bread, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
Much of the population is not getting enough fiber in their regular diet. The National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 20 to 35 grams per day.
Fiber examples include avocado, berries, Brussels sprouts, chickpeas, lentils, raw or lightly greens like spinach, kale and arugula, root vegetables like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, and add-ons like chia seeds, flaxseed.
Protein plays a huge role in the body and is involved in digestive health, rebuilding tissue and muscle, energy, hormonal production, immune health as antibodies, enzymes, structure, and storage/transportation of other molecules. Protein is part of every single cell in our body.
Our bodies digest and absorb some proteins a little better or worse than others. The higher bioavailability and absorption, the better. Animal proteins such as eggs, beef, chicken, fish contain high amounts of protein and are also more bioavailable; but this doesn’t mean you can only achieve high protein bioavailability with these foods. (4)
This post about 10 plant-based proteins you should be eating is one of the most popular posts on NS of all time. Plant-based proteins, including quinoa, chia seeds, and spirulina, are nutrient-packed options to include in your lunch bowl that offer great nutritional value and flavor that’s easy to incorporate with everything else.
Protein examples include organic and ethically raised chicken, wild caught fish, whole eggs, beans and legumes, tofu or tempeh.
Fats provide our body with a layer of protection, insulating our organs and keeping our core body temperature normal. They also help us digest fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K to keep our brains, cells, hormones, tissues, hair, skin, and nails healthy, and provide the structural component to many cell membranes which are essential for cellular development.
Healthy fat examples include avocado, olives, nuts, seeds, hemp seeds. You can also cook your vegetables lightly in olive oil, grapeseed oil, sesame oil or coconut oil.
Fermented foods are your gut’s BFF — they provide probiotics or the “good bacteria” that your gut needs in order to function properly. Fermentation is simply a process where a carbohydrate is converted into an acid or an alcohol. An added bonus: fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, nutritional yeast, and hummus can offer a delicious tang and counterbalance to flavors from other ingredients. If you haven’t explored adding fermented foods to your lunch bowls — you need to do so asap!
The health benefits of fermented foods are backed up by science, too. Probiotics help regular bowel movements, support more efficient digestion and better absorption of nutrients from our food, encourage higher immune function, (5) lower digestive disease prevalence, (6) aid our body in healing any gut abnormalities like “leaky gut”, (7) offer anti-anxiety and anti-depression effects, (8) and may even improve skin conditions like acne and psoriasis. (9)
Fermented food examples include kimchi or sauerkraut, homemade salad dressings, kelp/dulse granules and flakes for added iodine and minerals, nutritional yeast, homemade hummus, apple cider vinegar, fresh lemon juice.
- Elia, M., Folmer, P., Schlatmann, A., Goren, A., & Austin, S. (1988, June). Carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism in muscle and in the whole body after mixed meal ingestion.
- Slavin, J. (2013, April). Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits.
- Harvard Health. Fiber. (2016, April 12).
- A. (2015, October 19). How Can I Get Enough Protein? The Protein Myth.
- Parvez, S., Malik, K. A., Ah, S., & Kim, H. Y. (2006, June). Probiotics and their fermented food products are beneficial for health.
- Harvard Health. How to boost your immune system.
- Shi, L. H., Balakrishnan, K., Thiagarajah, K., Ismail, N. I., & Yin, O. S. (2016, August). Beneficial Properties of Probiotics.
- Bowe, W. P., & Logan, A. C. (2011, January 31). Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis – back to the future?
If you’re looking for additional inspiration on creating a nourishing lunch bowl, check out these popular recipes on NS:
The post How to Build The Ultimate Lunch Bowl For A Happy Gut appeared first on Nutrition Stripped.
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How to Build The Ultimate Lunch Bowl For A Happy Gut