5 Magic Lunch Menus

Typical Lunch 2 slices white bread with 2 slices roasted turkey, 2 slices processed cheese, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise 1 medium

Typical Lunch
2 slices white bread with 2 slices roasted turkey, 2 slices processed cheese, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 medium banana
3 or 4 graham crackers
16 ounces (495 ml) apple juice

Magic Lunch
2 slices whole grain bread with 2 slices roasted turkey
1 slice processed cheese
2 slices tomato
1 tablespoon mustard
12 sweet cherries
1 ounce (30 g) dark chocolate-covered almonds
6 ounces (180 ml) unsweetened grapefruit juice

Total GL: 17
Total calories: 452

The Fixes
Swapped white bread for whole grain to boost fiber and lower the GL.

Cut approximately 60 calories by switching from mayo to mustard.

Exchanged the apple juice for grapefruit juice, which has a lower GL, and cut the quantity to reduce calories and further lower the GL.

Switched the banana for cherries. All stone fruits have lower GLs than bananas do.

Included dark chocolate–covered almonds instead of graham crackers. The almonds offer protein, “good” fats, vitamins, and fiber, while the crackers don’t provide much nutrition and add significantly to the meal’s GL.Healthy LunchesTypical Lunch
McDonald’s Big Mac
Large order of French fries
32 ounces (730 ml) soda

Total GL: 109
Total calories: 1,427

Magic Lunch
McDonald’s Quarter Pounder
6 ounces (180 ml) Berries and Yogurt or Yogurt Parfait
Bottled water

Total GL: 10
Total calories: 550

The Fixes
Switched to the Quarter Pounder, which has less bread and more meat than the Big Mac. Ordered it without cheese to keep calories in check.

Avoided French fries, a.k.a. blood sugar bombs, and ordered Berries and Yogurt (or Yogurt Parfait) instead for fewer calories, less fat, and more nutrition.

Better Still
A single hamburger and a side salad with vinaigrette dressing.Healthy LunchesTypical Lunch
2 slices regular cheese pizza
32 ounces (730 ml) soda

Total GL: 86
Total calories: 580

Magic Lunch
1 slice whole wheat pizza with cheese and vegetables
1 cup side salad with
Lettuce, tomato, and cucumber
1 tablespoon oil and vinegar dressing
1 medium peach
20 ounces (495 ml) unsweetened iced tea

Total GL: 14
Total calories: 333

The Fixes
Cut carbs, fat, and calories by limiting pizza to one slice.

Boosted fiber by switching to whole wheat crust and adding vegetables.

Made up for the slice you’re not eating by adding a salad and a piece of fruit, both nutritious, low-GL foods.

Better Still
Make your own pizza at home by topping a whole grain pita with 2 tablespoons tomato sauce, 2 ounces (60 g) part-skim mozzarella, and plenty of veggies.

Healthy LunchesTypical Lunch
1 large burrito made with a 13-inch (33-cm) white flour tortilla and 1 cup white rice, 2 ounces (60 g) beef filling 1 ounce (30 g) cheddar cheese, 2 tablespoons salsa
1.5 ounces (45 g) tortilla chips
1/4 cup salsa
32 ounces (730 ml) soda

Total GL: 120
Total calories: 1,422

Magic Lunch
1 small burrito made with a 6-inch (15-cm) whole wheat tortilla and 1/2 cup black beans
1.5 ounces (42 g) roasted chicken
Plenty of lettuce, tomato, and salsa
1/2 ounce (15 g) cheddar cheese
1/2 mango
Bottled water

Total GL: 22
Total calories: 519

The Fixes
Cut carbs and lowered the GL by switching from an overgrown white flour tortilla to a more reasonably sized whole wheat tortilla.

Lowered the GL significantly and added fiber by eliminating the white rice and including black beans instead.

Added fruit instead of tortilla chips. Chips are an “empty-calorie” food, whereas fruit is packed with fiber and vitamins, not to mention having a low GL.

Better Still
A grilled chicken or steak salad, if it’s on the menu (no taco shell). If it’s not, ask for a “naked burrito”— burrito filling without the tortilla. Typical Lunch
1 large white sub roll with 4 slices salami 4 slices prosciutto 2 slices provolone cheese 1 tablespoon mayonnaise 2-ounce (60-g) bag potato chips
1 large chocolate chip cookie
32 ounces (730 ml) soda

Total GL: 150
Total calories: 1,972

Magic Lunch
1/2 whole grain sub roll with:
2 slices lean roast beef
1 slice provolone cheese
Oil and vinegar
Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, and olives

1 medium apple
4 ounces (125 ml) “light” chocolate pudding
Mineral water with lemon

Total GL: 38
Total calories: 588

The Fixes
Switched to a whole grain roll, which has more fiber, and cut it in half to cut carbs.

Substituted leaner meat for meats high in saturated fat, reduced the quantity of meat, and “beefed up” the sandwich with a generous helping of veggies.

Replaced the chips with fruit for much less fat and more nutrients.

Cut saturated fat and calories by replacing the cookie with light pudding, which also provides some calcium.

Better Still
Enjoy a chef’s salad with rolled cold cuts, cheese, and veggies.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest