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November 2009
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Bringing the Brown Bag Back in Style

What affects the choices we make with our daily meals? Why is it that some of us are more inclined to pack our lunch than to buy our lunch?

Last night someone really got me thinking about the things we eat and what influences our eating choices. My friend was telling me that he has a secret obsession with KFC (not that he eats it frequently now) and he thinks it stems from the fact that it was the closest place to walk for lunch while he was in high school. And he’s probably right, his decision for lunch everyday was likely based on proximity, after all, we are a society of convenience.

I pack my lunch most days and can’t help but wonder if it is influenced by the fact that there was nothing really close by to my high school? I really didn’t like the cafeteria food so I was forced to pack a lunch, a practice I still continue to this day.

Fast food is more convenient, easily accessible and usually steps from most high schools. If we are to try and teach this current generation of teenagers about better eating habits should there be a radius in place that prevents un-healthy restaurants from opening near a school?

Schools are traditionally part of neighbourhoods so not permitting fast-food chains to open near a school is unjustly unfair to the remainder of the community. As parents, as teachers as mentors it is our job to influence the teenagers around us, to teach them that it is ‘cool’ to eat healthy, and even to pack a lunch. So what can we do to help our teenage generation think more about the choices they make for lunch

  1. Apples: crunchy, crisp and full of energy (according to my bf they provide you with more energy than the jolt from a cup of coffee). With all these teenagers addicted to coffee from all the Tim Horton’s Commercial’s and the stigma of not carrying a Starbucks cup, it’s time to help shift that mentality. Most people like the taste of apples, they are sweet and refreshing. It’s not just about teenagers seeing you with an apple but seeing you eat one.
  2. Salad: It is becoming part of the fast food chain and more importantly salad is becoming trendy. Both the Lettuce Eatery and Freshii are two of Toronto’s healthy fast food alternatives. Load them up with protein and you can get a pretty balanced meal out a salad. Salad is one of my favourite things and I typically pack one to accompany my lunch each day.
  3. Water: If I were to hazard a guess I would estimate that about 90% of the population is dehydrated. An average person should consume 2 litres of water a day. Caffeinated drinks as a diuretic robbing our bodies of the necessary water it needs. Juice is an okay substitute, but the calories from a lot of juice add up quickly.
  4. Sandwiches: I’ll admit they can get really boring when you eat them day-in and day-out but you can have a really balanced meal all in one bite. Protein, carbs, vegetable servings, the more creative you are with your sandwich the better it tastes and the better it is for you.
  5. Smoothies: OK, maybe not a lunch thing but if you walk around with a smoothie in a clear glass you get peoples attention. Smoothies are typically a vibrant colour and are very appealing to the eye. Because smoothies are just fruits and vegetables they come filled with nutrients and not much fat, if any. Much like the common cold, smoothies are contagious. Just by walking around with one you’ll inspire others to make one every day.

My friends always ask how I have time to make my lunch and to make such a healthy lunch. It is a matter of proper planning, buying the right things and making enough leftovers. On average I think I spend two to five minutes a day making my lunch. Just the right amount of time from when I put the kettle on in the morning until it boils.