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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Lean Up Lunch

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In my line of work, I talk to people all day long about what they eat. You can't really shock me anymore because I do feel like I have heard it all. But it is the everyday stuff that bothers me most. I am surprised and disappointed when I hear many people talk about how much time (1 or more hours), money ($6 and up), and calories (800 and up) they spend on lunch. Many restaurants today are pretty empty at dinnertime, but the lunch crowd has barely dwindled and in some places is thriving.

With this economy and the obesity crisis in America, many people are looking for ways to save money and to lose weight (or at least prevent weight gain). How about one solution that will help BOTH problems? Jackpot!

One of my favorite things to recommend for a quick, easy, and quite affordable lunch are frozen meals. There are so many varieties to choose from that you can't get bored quickly with them. In fact, I hear people tell me they are bored with their take-out lunches more often than I hear about boredom with frozen meals.

What about sodium? Aren't those frozen meals high in sodium? They do contain some sodium, but so does pretty much everything we eat. They have a LOT less sodium than most of the foods you are likely eating for lunch right now. Check out the comparisons below.

Fettucini Alfredo (fast food regular size) with one breadstick
930 Calories
35 g Fat
1750 mg Sodium
$6.24

Try instead:
Lean Cuisine Pasta Carbonara (linguini with bits of bacon, peppers, peas, and creamy sauce)
300 Calories
8 g Fat
590 mg Sodium
$3.39

Beef Chow Fun take-out Chinese
1212 Calories
38 g Fat
2432 mg Sodium
$10.72

Try Instead:
Lean Cuisine Beef Chow Fun
320 Calories
5 g Fat
520 mg Sodium
$3.39

Chicken Enchiladas, black beans, rice, tortilla chips from Mexican Restaurant
1010 Calories
49 g Fat
2864 mg Sodium
$8.49

Try instead:
Lean Cuisine Chicken Enchiladas
270 Calories
4 g Fat
550 mg Sodium
$2.39

Pair a frozen meal for lunch with a yogurt, glass of milk, or piece of fruit to round it out nicely. Enjoy!
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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