The One Thing You Should Always Pack in Your Lunch Box

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Whether you’re packing a salad, a sandwich, a container of soup, or the leftover scraps of a rotisserie chicken, there’s one thing you always need in your lunch box. What’s that? A napkin? Okay, that’s not a terrible idea. So maybe there are two things you should pack.

My must-have: A little treat for after you’ve finished that last bite of your midday meal.

It doesn’t have to be much. (I’m not suggesting you eat a piece of double chocolate cake every day — unless you want to. You do you!) Something small, like a few Swedish Fish, a couple of chocolate-covered pretzels, or even a stick of gum, will do! Whatever you pack, treat yourself right after you’re done eating. Don’t wait until three or four, which could then start you on a downward spiral of sugar-loading to get you through the midday slump.

Why? For starters, it’s something nice to do for yourself! You’re working hard — and you actually packed your lunch, which is always a win. It’s also a way of making sure you get just the right amount of something sweet, a lesson I learned the hard way.

At my last job (before I started working from home), I used to keep a Mason jar full of gummy candies on my desk, but I quickly learned that was a bad idea. I’d portion out a few for right after lunch. And then, without even thinking about it, I’d portion out a few more for my after-lunch-treat treat. I ate way too many gummies. (Those studies that find that people eat more candy if it’s out in plain sight are onto something!)

Since I switched to just throwing a tiny treat or two into my lunch bag, I love having a little sweet bookend to my meal and I never go overboard.

Do you pack a little something extra in your lunch box for yourself?