Q: But I already bring my lunch.

(Not a question.)

It's FANTASTIC that you are already avoiding other food temptations by bringing your lunch.

Now you have a perfect way to level up.

The time you give yourself is just as important as the food. What do you do during this break besides eat? Nourish the whole you. If you're not already, do something active in the world--even for just 15 minutes--that really feels like YOU. Think of it as a little oasis of happiness. Or not. But that's kinda the idea.

Also, Box Lunch Lifestyle is a lifestyle, and that includes paying attention to what you like and don't like--and doing something about it. For example, how much energy do you have around 3 p.m.? A slump could be related to your lunch food (or time!) choices. A better lunch should help you feel good all day, so keep checking to see when it's time for a tweak, or an overhaul.

Q: What do I do if my workspace is in a high-traffic area?

Escape!

Ask yourself: "If my workspace is on the main drag, where is the lowest traffic area for my team?"

You may have common areas or unused meeting rooms to hide in during your lunch break. Or don't forget that if you're in a big building, you'll probably be anonymous to other teams, so you could sit in a different breakroom, for example, and not be disturbed by work questions or other conversations.

Go outside, if you have comfortable options there. Sit in your car if you really want solitude.

You could also invite people to join you for a 30-minute-actually-good-for-you-really-a-break lunch. It might surprise you what happens when people see that it's really not that hard to be a little happier and a little healthier during the day.

Q: What if everyone is going out for fast food just about every day?

You're in the perfect spot to defend what you've decided is important to you. This is good.

Wanting a better lunch doesn't mean being a social outsider. If someone is making a fast food run, go along for the ride. They say it's easier to avoid temptation than to resist, but it IS possible ride in a car with french fries and not eat them.

You can do this. Who will feel better and have more energy at 3 o'clock? You or French Fry Man?

Q: Will vegetables make me feel as full as the bread in a sandwich does?

Vegetables might make you feel "differently full" compared to bread or pasta. 

Here's a trick to see if you're really not satisfied, or if you're not yet feeling "differently" satisfied by your two vegetables: If you're still legitimately hungry, you'd be happy to eat, say, a second piece of meatloaf. If you'd pass on more meatloaf but would eat a piece of cake, you probably really are satisfied. You're just being tempted by a craving. It's a great time to eat a piece of dark chocolate.

Q: What if I'm so hungry I can't make it to lunch time?

Excellent question! This is another reason why lunch matters more than you think. What could this particular hunger be telling you?

  • "I'm not eating enough breakfast."
  • "I'm not be eating the right breakfast for me. I'll try something different."
  • "I'm not sure I'm even really hungry. I'm just bored at work right now."

Or something else. What is it for you?

The point is that you noticed. That by itself is a HUGE win. It means you can choose something more satisfying tomorrow.

 

Q: Can I look at Facebook while I eat?

You make your own rules about what matters.

If you spend 15 minutes only eating food, chances are you'll pay more attention to what you eat. You may be eating slower than you normally would. You may be chewing more. You may even notice how much you like (or don't like) what you're eating. And that matters.

For the 15 minutes of time, doing something that requires acting in the physical world somehow can be pretty satisfying. Social media friends might be important to you, but so might actual humans, and Facebook never seems to have any problem finding it's way into the day. If you can, find someone real that you like to Like during lunch.

 

 

Q: Why only 30 minutes?

Some people do take an hour or more for a lunch break, but it's more often heard that people feel lucky to have 10 minutes to themselves--and may not even remember what they ate while they checked their email or ran an errand.

Making your food last more than 15 minutes may not be as important as using the gift of extra time to try something new--or make even more progress on that whatever-it-is that you've always wanted to do. Try "feeding yourself" for a whole hour and see what you notice.

Q: Chocolate? Really?

Yes. Really.

But try a "better" dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate--even if you've tried dark before and didn't care for it.  There's some research that shows that it may actually be good for you. 

If chocolate isn't your thing, choose a substitute treat so that you don't feel guilty if you want a little something sweet after lunch. You need an option that isn't typical vending machine fare.

Q: What if it takes me longer than 15 minutes to eat?

Enjoying a leisurely lunch is not a bad thing. The question to ask yourself is, "What does the amount of time I spend eating tell me?" 

"I'm not really paying attention to my food. I read the news and lose track of time."
"I'm eating a lot more food than I thought. I just can't eat it all in 15 minutes."
"I'm worried about following the BLL rules. I want to get it 'right.'"

(You make your own rules about what matters.)

YOUR answer should tell you something. Does it?

It's not important that you eat for 14 minutes or 25 minutes. The point is to feed yourself--both your body and your mind--feel satisfied, and give yourself credit.
 

Q: What if I don't want to give up social time with my work friends?

Box Lunch Lifestyle is all about moving toward things that are "better"--not sacrificing what makes you happy.

Does this time with your friends feel like an investment in yourself--in the person you'll be in the future? Do you have a goal or aspiration your friends at work have, too, and you could lead everyone in taking it on together? Is there a non-work-related skill you'd like to learn from someone?

This doesn't have to be a solitary exercise. It could actually be a great way to make connections--and show yourself and other people that you're dedicated to more than just your job.  

 

Q: What about macaroni and cheese?

Really good macaroni and cheese is a beautiful thing. The question being asked, though, is probably about what qualifies as homemade.

You make your own rules about what matters.

But let's be honest: mac and cheese from a box (or anything from a box or kit) isn't the same quality as homemade. It's true that some boxed meals are "better" than others, but when's the last time you had mac and cheese made from scratch with fresh butter and cream, and cheese that you grated yourself? Mmmm. That's REAL food, and it's not that hard to make. Challenge yourself to try it.

Q: What if I'm traveling?

Excellent question.

It's tricky to make good choices on the road, but you can keep up the spirit of Box Lunch Lifestyle: better is...better.  For example, try finding a grocery store or Walgreens/Duane Reade over your lunch break. If you can't find vegetables, you'll almost certainly find fruit. Only canned? Fine. Still better, especially without added sugar or corn syrup. Yogurt, string cheese, and deli meats are quick "better" choices, too.

Use your lunch time to think about or try something new based on where you are. If you're traveling for work, a break from work thinking to do something for yourself is healthy. If you're on vacation, just enjoy yourself. Consider taking a break from all your normal routines if that's what's best for you. 

Q: Are you saying that breakfast isn't important?

You make your own rules about what matters.

Do you have a breakfast routine that works for you? If so, congratulations. It's a meal that causes a lot of people grief. Box Lunch Lifestyle recommends making better choices starting with lunch. A better breakfast may (or may not) be important to you. It's just often a harder place to start making changes that include both better food and better time.

Q: What about counting calories? Doesn't that matter?

You make your own rules about what matters.

Box Lunch Lifestyle isn't about weight loss. It's about doing things "better," and doing more of the things that make you YOU. If you're making your own lunch, you're more likely to eat better food--if not necessarily low-calorie food.

If you want to change how much fat you have on your body, take care of your whole body. Eat good lunch food, but pay attention to how you use your lunch time, too. It's a way to flex ALL of your discipline muscles.

Q: How long have you done this yourself?

Like a lot of people, I talked about this idea for a long time before I stopped making excuses and actually did it. I do it now. Not every single day, but most days.

For me, I've noticed that it's easier to be disciplined about food than time. What does that tell me? I must either value the "quality food" part more than the "quality time," or I've simply had more practice taking on the food fight. I may just be better at it. 

It tells me I still have plenty to learn.