Q: Do I have to have a "sparring partner"?

No. You don’t have to have anything.

What you want to have, though, is the best chance at doing your best.

Some of us are self-disciplined to a fault and get jazzed by the challenge of just about any kind of rule or goal. (You know who you are.)

But Box Lunch Lifestyle isn’t about following someone else’s rules. It’s about what gives you energy. Do you wanna do this lunch thing with a friend? Then go for it. If not, then keep it just for you. Lunch is still your training ground for trusting yourself, and deciding what rules you want or don’t want.

We’ll always have suggestions or ideas for how to make this work, but it’s always more than fine to do things your own way. It’s not like you need our permission or anything, but you have it (just in case).

Q: Should I eat replace the meat I'm eating at lunch with cheese?

For Box Lunch Lifestyle? It totally doesn’t matter.

First, give yourself (extra) credit. Being intentional about what you eat seems like something you’ve already nailed. Remember when a question like this wasn’t even on your radar? And now? No more lunch food complacency. Good on you.

Second, in the spirit of Box Lunch Lifestyle, ask, “What is it that I’m making myself?” Probably not the cheese. The meat might need a little preparation, but my guess is that this is the bought-already-cooked kind. If you’re satisfied with how close-to-homemade you’ve gotten, eat what you like for lunch. If you look forward to eating the ham, eat it. Enjoy it. Or switch things around. Whatever.

Third, it sounds like your lunch is becoming a runway to other things—refining your food choices even more, or maybe spilling over into different dinner choices (i.e., if you’re having something with meat or cheese at dinner, maybe you don’t want it at lunch, too). That’s pretty huge.

Fourth and last, don’t get so caught up in WHAT you eat that you overlook HOW and WHY you eat. It’s easy to lose sight of this, but they gotta work together to work, you know. The goal is A+ satisfaction, not total food perfection.

Q: What if I don't get a full 30-minute break?

But you’re still taking a break, right? Right???

A lot of people punch a time clock and have literally 30 minutes for lunch—or any other meal break. Still, it’s a break and the Box Lunch Lifestyle principles apply: decide how much of your 25 minutes (or whatever) is dedicated to eating and appreciating the best food available, and how much time you’ll invest in yourself.

Don’t cheat yourself on the YOU part. It’s easy to shortchange this, but don’t. Fifteen minutes is better, but five minutes is better than nothing. Doing the honest best you can that day is what matters.

We believe you can, and that you matter. So keep going.

Q: Do mushrooms count as vegetables?

(Wow! That’s a new one.)

We didn’t believe it either, but not only are mushrooms not vegetables, they aren’t even plants! They have their own kingdom. So now have to add “fungi” to the animal/vegetable/mineral part of guessing games. Who knew?

Nutritionally, though, a lot of mushrooms are super-good for you. You make the rules that work for you, but don’t beat yourself if (better) mushrooms are your vegetable stand-in today.

Q: I feel derailed.

Not a question, but maybe the tip of an iceberg of questions.

How about one right back at you: What’s one thing that’s bugging you today? What’s just one thing that feels “not in control”? Zoom in. Just a little.

You are smart enough and strong enough to look whatever it is in the eye and take one step. We’ll help you. We live for this stuff. For real.

Just having your lunch break feel manageable will matter more than you think.

Q: Is stevia good for you?

This is a good example of a GREAT question that's not in the Box Lunch Lifestyle wheelhouse. [sad trumpet sound goes here] 

Here's a question for YOU:

Before you take a deep dive into the good v. evil of a specific ingredient, ask "Why do I care about [this ingredient]?" When you choose your lunch food, homemade is goal #1. Will you actually cook or assemble something yourself using stevia, for example? Or will not knowing whether it's "good" stymie you to the point of just opening a package of something instead?

It feels insurmountable to make the "right" choice because we're NOT stevia experts, we don't have the time to become one, and as soon as we were experts, stevia wouldn't even be on the grocery store shelves anymore.

Your answer to "Why do I care?" will reflect back to what something that you really value, and that can help you decide if an ingredient goes in your mouth. It will also point you to the LEAST BIT of information you need in order to decide for yourself (ranging from "Would stevia interfere with my insulin dosage?" to "Does [this famous cook I like] ever use stevia?") That least bit of info is totally researchable. Don't freeze up. Get one most important answer and choose--just for today. (You can choose again later.)

By trying a new ingredient--actually putting your hands on it--you'll learn more about it and whether it's good for YOU (a much different quality of info than you'll learn on the web). Because even if, for example, you think stevia is safe and you love how it tastes, but the food doesn't cook the way you like it, then stevia isn't right for you--no matter what any expert says. It doesn't fit the Box Lunch Lifestyle you're building for yourself.

Don't be thwarted! Making something from scratch using any ingredient (meaning, available on trusted grocery store shelves and not from a vat in some factory), puts you SO ahead of the game. Give yourself credit for thinking for yourself.

You are the smartest, foremost expert on YOU.




Q: Does fried cauliflower count as a vegetable?

There's no doubt it's a vegetable. (Definitely not an animal or mineral.)

Just like most other food questions, this one has a ton of answers. For example, in his latest book Fast Food Genocide, Dr. Joel Fuhrman makes a strong case that you're better off skipping options like this one. (This snip is from page 55, and he means it. This guy is TOUGH!)

When you're building your own box lunch lifestyle, you make the rules. If you want to make your own breaded cauliflower and fry it for a weekday lunch, rock on. You'll learn pretty quickly if this is a good or sustainable vegetable option for you. Or it may be the right option for you TODAY because your kids want to try doing it themselves.

What about fried cauliflower gives you energy?

You, Box Lunch Boss, are in pursuit of a lifestyle--food and action--that helps you live up to your potential. Decide for yourself how to answer this question.

P.S. You can bake cauliflower, too. Just sayin'.


Q: Do people have trouble deciding what to with their 15 minutes of time?

More people tell us they struggle more with making the time than knowing what to do with it. But if you're getting a brain cramp, try this approach inspired by Teresa Thomas:

How old are you? 37? Great! Make a list of 37 fun things to do. Don't think Bucket List.* What sounds like fun? What would you make or see or do with an unexpected 5-day weekend of freedom? Use 15 minutes of your next lunch break to make this list (without bogging yourself down with judge-y-ness) and see what pops up. You just might land on the next quiet dream to feed, or maybe you'll see a pattern pointing in the direction of an activity you'd find satisfying.

Try it and let us know if it works for you.

*In fact, let's not use "Bucket List" anymore. How about a name like "Going For It List" that doesn't suggest impending doom? If you have an even better name, please tell us. We're sick to death (pun intended) of "Bucket List." 

Q: What is this?

The coaches have been doing this for awhile, so we sometimes forget that you might be just kicking off your own Box Lunch Lifestyle. (Our bad.)

Here it is in a nutshell:

Box Lunch Lifestyle is a common sense practice for a more satisfying life built on better food and better ways to spend your time during your weekday lunch break. Eat food you make yourself for 15 minutes, then spend 15 minutes making progress on that thing you've always said you wanted to do.  Your 30-minute lunch break can turn an ordinary day into an actual turning point. If you can change your lunch, you can change.

How's that?

If you send this to your friends or coworkers, we'd love to hear what they think, too.

Q: Any ideas for when I DO eat lunch out? I'm doing so well, but I don't want to mess up.

That doesn't sound much like "messing up." A better lunch is almost always possible. You don't ever fail. You "win" or you "learn."

When you look at a restaurant or fast food menu, ask yourself, "What ingredients do I see?" Most of the time, you can order things--even if they're not on the menu--that are just ingredients: vegetable sides, a piece of meat, fruit, even bread.

We'd challenge you to go farther. Is the menu item something you'd make for yourself? Would you really deep-fry the chicken breast, or would you broil it in the oven at home? Would you make that steak salad? (We hope so!) Scrambled eggs v. eggs Benedict?

Its your lunch. You make your own rules about what matters. You've got this.

Q: Isn't it hard to stay focused on just one thing even for 15 minutes?

Sometimes. For some of us.

A secret weapon? Set an alarm. If you don't have to keep checking a clock, your odds of "detaching" from Work Think are better AND there's less potential for other pesky distractions.  If you don't have to look at a screen at all for 15 minutes, that screen has no hope of pulling you in a direction you've already told yourself you don't want to go.

It's just for 15 minutes. You've got this.

Q: What can I put on vegetables so that I eat more of them?

A question back to you: Do you prefer your vegetables raw or cooked? It matters! Some vegetables you may just like better cooked--and it's okay to cook them. Try it! Just don't cook your vegetables beyond recognition. Cooked food should still look...you know, vibrant and like the food it was meant to be. So try steaming or roasting instead of boiling--or microwaving. (This isn't hard.)

Here are some options we hear people like on RAW vegetables. These are so much better if you make them yourself, but there are good store-bought options, too.

  • sour cream or mayo-based dips (we [heart] these)
  • guacamole
  • nut butters (cashew, almond, peanut)
  • hummus--or ful medames, which sounds fancy, but it's sort of a hummus made with fava beans instead of chick peas

On COOKED vegetables, you need BUTTER, man! Splurge on some butter from a dairy near where you live--even within your state. Butter (salted or unsalted) made from milk from grass-fed cows can be really tasty. Here are some other things to try:

  • marinara sauce
  • bacon fat (yes! but know your pigs and be sure they're healthy)
  • parmesan, feta, or blue cheese, or other finely grated cheese
  • freshly-squeezed lemon juice and/or olive oil
  • your favorite salad dressing (try it!)

It's not cheating if you add something to vegetables to make them taste better to you. Just make sure what you add is also food you understand. 





Q: What should I do for fifteen minutes?

This should be a seriously FUN part of the whole Box Lunch Lifestyle experience! But we get that spending time doing what we want just because we're inspired to can lose its place in our busy lives. We're out of practice. But we also hear people say, "But I don't have anything I want to make or build or explore...I'm pretty much fine. I don't do 'those things.'"

We're not buying it.

If your fifteen minutes of time at lunch doesn't yell, "I'm starting a website!" or "I'm learning origami!" (and yes, some people DO want to learn origami...), this is a chance to listen to some quiet dream that's been hiding.  Just sit for fifteen minutes with a blank piece of paper. Play some music , or find a nice view to enjoy if you can, but just sit, and think, and remember. We know it sounds "yogi-y" but you might be surprised what bubbles up in your head. For example, you might remember a class you loved in school but never really "got" because you didn't have [enough time, the right teacher, etc.]. Why not "get it" now?

Make a note or two. See what tomorrow brings. And give yourself credit for making space for that hidden, quiet dream to speak. This kind of listening is tough, but you're tough enough.

Q: What do you mean by "better" fats?

Some people like (or hate) particular eating trends--and those trends often include embracing or shunning specific fats. "Olive oil is good for you!" "Lard will kill you!" "Nuts are good!" "Nuts are bad!" Here's a collective sigh from our coaches: SIGH!

When it comes to food, Box Lunch Lifestyle doesn't advocate anything more than eating what you UNDERSTAND and LIKE at lunch--and that includes fats.

If you cook with some kind of fat (or oil, or whatever), understand what it actually is. If you don't understand how oil comes from corn, Google it and see what you learn. If the idea of eating the fat from an animal's body grosses you out, then it's not for you. But KNOW what a fat is before you put it in your mouth.

Consider asking yourself, "Would I eat this--by itself--on a piece of bread?" Say...butter? Olive oil? Bacon? Avocado? Bacon AND avocado? (Mmmm...) Peanut butter? Lard? Soybean oil? Nonstick spray?

There are no mystery ingredients in an avocado.  And you'd probably enjoy a little taste of butter even by itself. We're less sure about the nonstick spray.

You make your own rules about that matters--and that include what's "better" for you.


Q: How can I convince people that it's important to take a break at work?

You probably can't. The people who "never have time" or "simply can't [fill in the blank]" may have excuses, but they may have reasons, too, that we just can't see.

What you CAN do is create an opportunity to make a different choice.

  • Managers: Try setting different expectations. Could you be rewarding star employees even when they compromise their wellbeing by overworking?
  • Coworkers: Be a pal. How recently have you said, "You work so hard. What would make it possible for you to take a break?" Just one invitation from someone else to take a break together might be the excuse they need to start a new routine.
  • Box Lunch Lifestyle Enthusiasts: You are proof that it IS possible in your workplace to take a break, eat something better, and feel better overall. You are the real deal. People will notice, and some will follow your lead.

The thing about giving someone an opportunity to make a different choice is that you're not asking them to say they're wrong. (People HATE wrong.) But they might say, "Huh. I didn't realize that. Okay. I'll give it a try."


Q: What are your thoughts on pasteurized yogurt as a probiotic source, or as food in general?

We definitely have opinions about food, but the Box Lunch Lifestyle coaches are not nutritionists or dieticians. So take our yapping for whatever it's worth, and definitely don't listen to anything we'd have to say about probiotics.

Homemade food is best. Homemade yogurt? It's possible, but unlikely. If you eat yogurt, though, aren't you even a little bit curious what makes it taste so...yogurt-y?

Tons of sites (like this one, or this one) have their own ideas about what makes some yogurt "better." The Box Lunch Lifestyle crew likes food with ingredients we can pronounce, and that would make a tasty mouthful all by themselves (like strawberries or sugar rather than acesulfame potassium). If you can only find better yogurt that's unflavored and you need a little "sweet," try stirring in some raw honey. It tastes better than you might think. For real.

Q: Can I make lunch for someone else?

Is this a trick question?

Here's a trick answer: it depends.

The making-your-own-lunch thing is a pretty big part of the Box Lunch Lifestyle approach to food. So, what is it that's important to you about making lunch for someone else? How are you helping that person? Any chance that "helping" could actually be "replacing something that would feel good to that person or help that person learn"?

How about this suggestion from Box Lunch Lifer Lisa G. instead: exchange homemade lunches with a coworker or friend. That way, she or he still gets the pleasure (it's true--you'll see!) of both making a homemade lunch and eating one. Just imagine the potential for memorable lunch food and conversations.

It sounds like a sneaky and totally FUN way to hold each other accountable.