5 STEPS TO A HEALTHY WORK LUNCH

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By Rebecca Lock

 

 

Did you know that if you work full-time you’ll eat around 260 lunches at work each year? That’s 260 meals that can have a positive or negative effect on our health – or even just the afternoon ahead.

 

Whether you take lunch from home or buy it on the day, a satisfying and nutritious lunch can help maintain energy, as well as concentration levels, and prevent that mid-afternoon slump. Plus, with a little preparation, lunch can help our hip pocket too.

 

But this is no list of sushi, salads and sandwiches. Instead, we’re sharing our top tips in choosing a healthy work lunch whatever your style.

 

  1. Start with veggies

Aim for half of your lunch to be made up of vegetables. They’re full of nutrients: vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre, and are largely water so they don’t contain a lot of kilojoules. Go for a variety of colours to get a variety of nutrients too.

  1. Choose a protein food

Foods with protein, such as lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts or legumes, help us feel full and stabilise our blood sugar and energy levels. Mix up your protein foods during the week to get a variety of nutrients from the different foods, such as the iron in red meat or omega-3 fats in fish.

  1. Add a grain food

Wholegrains provide a slower release of energy to avoid blood sugar spikes and slumps. They also have fibre to help you feel full and to support healthy digestion. Good examples of wholegrains are brown rice, quinoa and barley, wholemeal or wholegrain varieties of bread, pasta or noodles. Starchy vegetables like potato or pumpkin can do the job as well.

  1. Top it off

Flavour your food with herbs and spices instead of using salt, and go easy on creamy sauces and spreads. Instead, choose small amounts of healthy fats like avocado instead of butter on a sandwich, or extra virgin olive oil on salad.

Opt for dairy foods like ricotta, cottage cheese and feta that have reduced fat, and go for Greek or plain yoghurt instead of sour cream. You could try sprinkling some crushed nuts and seeds on top for extra crunch (and healthy fats too).

  1. Plan ahead

We’re more likely to eat well when we make our own meals; plus we can save money. Try making extra portions of dinner for easy leftovers or extend it by adding vegetables or legumes. Prepare and refrigerate your lunch the night before so it’s ready to grab and go the next morning, and keep some of your favourite staple foods at work so you’ll always have something healthy at hand. Tinned fish, baked beans and grainy crackers are a good place to start.

 

For more handy healthy eating tips and tasty recipes visit nutritionaustralia.org

 

 

Rebecca Lock is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian at Nutrition Australia Victorian Division, which offers one-on-one consultations at the Carlton-based Nutrition Clinic. Rebecca is a passionate cook, and loves making delicious meals that not only taste great, but are full of goodness too.

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