Let’s face it: We all smile when the food arrives.
After all, a clear focus and a positive attitude can only occur when you’re well-fed, but that means filling up with good, nutritious food. We all know that finding healthy options when ordering delivery can be a challenge. Even options that bear the title “healthy” on their sleeves can be deceiving — pre-made sandwiches are loaded with preservatives, and disturbing amounts of salt can sneak their way into tasty soups.
But when you think outside the (lunch)box, you can make choices that will fuel your team — and amplify their motivation to work.
1. Start With Fruit
Fruit fires up your metabolism, so starting a meal with a piece of fruit, a fruit salad, juice, or a smoothie is a surefire way to give your digestive system a boost. (Just don’t add sugar!) And because fruit is full of fiber, it will make you feel fuller, meaning you’re less likely to overeat and spend the rest of your day in a slumber.
2. Color Me Healthy
Planning your meal by color is an easy and effective way to give your body the nutrients it craves. In particular, seek out three colors: greens, reds, and oranges (in that order). It may sound too simple to be true, but these colors are associated with high fiber and are the richest in the vitamins that you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Green veggies like kale, spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli, and collard greens are nutritional powerhouses, while raspberries, strawberries, pomegranates, watermelon, beets, carrots, and oranges are antioxidant-rich red and orange choices. And remember, colors don’t lie: White breads and white rice, for example, are generally carb-heavy but lack real nutritional value, while anything hot pink doesn’t exist in nature and should be avoided.
3. Assume It’s Guilty Until Proven Innocent
If you’re choosing a caterer to provide lunch for your team, check the ingredients and nutritional values before you order. Most companies’ websites have nutritional information available to view, or you can ask a representative over the phone or in the restaurant for it before you place your order. This is one time when you should assume guilt until proven otherwise. It may take some detective work the first time, but once you know what you’re eating, you’ll feel better knowing that you made a good decision.
4. Get Nutty
Nuts do more than keep your appetite at bay. They’re full of “good” unsaturated fats (which lowers bad cholesterol), omega-3 fatty acids (heart- and brain-healthy), and vitamin E, making them solid all-around choices to balance your meal. You can top your salad with nuts (raw walnuts, almonds, and cashews are best), or serve them on their own.
5. Less Is Always More
Instead of choosing a peanut- and honey-packed, caramel-infused bar, stick to basic, unprocessed ingredients, such as fruits, veggies, nuts, olive oil, and high-quality protein. Complex names and attention-grabbing descriptions are usually shorthand for sugar and fat, which are fine in moderation, but they won’t serve you well if you go overboard.
6. Swap the Cup of Coffee for Juice or Tea
While the caffeine in coffee does get the engines started and will make you feel more alert, it can have a very negative effect if you keep topping your cup off throughout the day, leaving you anxious and scatterbrained. I personally don’t drink more than three cups per day, and that works well for my body, but perhaps one or even four cups works better for you (though you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone recommend more than that). Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, replace it with fresh juice or green or black tea. It will make a huge difference to your overall clarity and energy levels over the long term. (You’ve been forewarned: It probably won’t feel good the first couple of times you do it.)
7. Rethink Dessert
Instead of cookies and cakes, go for a healthy sweet finish. Seek out dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 60 percent or more; the darker it is, the better it is for you. It’s rich in antioxidants, and you won’t need much to get your sweet fix because it’s bursting with flavor (though for some, it’s an acquired taste). Feel good knowing that you’re doing something good for yourself, too: flavonoid-rich cocoa decreases blood pressure, improves blood vessel health, promotes a positive state of mind, and is associated with better cognitive performance. If dark chocolate isn’t for you, make yourself a fresh or frozen Greek yogurt parfait with your favorite toppings (fruit, granola, or honey): It’s delicious and — most importantly — good for you, too.
If you remember one thing and one thing only when it comes to choosing your meal, remember this: You are what you eat. Everything you eat has a real impact on your body, mood, and energy, for better or worse. Lunch is one of only three major opportunities you have every day to fuel yourself. Make it count.
Phil Dumontet is the founder and CEO of DASHED, the leading restaurant delivery service in the Northeast. In 2013, DASHED was recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S., ranking #119 nationwide and #7 in Massachusetts on Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 500 | 5000 list. Phil prides himself on the company’s industry-leading delivery times, unique partnerships with top-rated restaurants, and commitment to keeping delivery green.
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