This week I received the following question from http://foodpicker.org :

I have diabetes and work long hours.  I usually eat lunch at my desk while working.  I’m struggling with what I can have for lunch.  Could you give me some tips on what to pack for lunch at work?

I can relate! Despite even the best intentions to eat healthy, lunch time is tough when you are faced with work-day challenges and deadlines.  There are ways to overcome and conquer, however. Now is the time to embrace the art of meal-planning.

What I have found often helpful is preparing my lunch the night before.  It takes a few minutes of your time, but saves you from scrambling for carb-friendly choices in the morning.  Prepare sandwiches with whole wheat bread. Toss a salad together with grilled chicken, mixed greens, and non-starchy vegetables. If you would like to pack left-overs from the night before. make sure you portion your meal so that you are consuming no more than 3-4 carbohydrate choices, whether it is bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, or fruit. Remember 1 serving of carbohydrate is 15 grams.

Try to keep your meal balanced when planning. Always include a source of protein with your meal, as it slows down the rate of glucose absorption into your blood stream. It will also give you a greater feeling of satiety before you tackle the rest of your day. Examples are poultry, lean meats, nuts, eggs, or tofu.

Make one of your carbohydrate choices a piece of fruit, because they are easy to throw in your lunch box and contain nutrients and fiber that something quick from the vending machine does not.

Frozen dinners can be very convenient, however always read nutrition labels before purchasing. You want ones that are reasonable on the amount of carbohydrate, sodium, and saturated fat. Try to aim for ones 45 grams of carbohydrate or less.

If you are extremely strapped for time, break your meal up into smaller snacks. Incorporate your carbohydrate snack with a protein or healthy fat to prevent your blood sugar from spiking and to keep you from getting too hungry. Examples are fruit with a handful of nuts, or crackers with cheese. There are tons of products in your grocery for healthy on-the-go snacks such has cheese sticks, yogurt, cottage cheese,  or the 100-calorie packs of whole grain crackers.

With a little planning you may find yourself surprised at your increased energy level and improved glucose control for the rest of your day. In addition to bringing healthier choices with you,  stealing away from your desk to take a brisk walk around your building or up the stairs will further boost your energy and further improve your blood sugar readings.