It is easy to skip lunch, especially when you may be busy and tempted to just have a biscuit or piece of fruit when you feel peckish. Lunch is an important meal of the day and helps to curb your appetite when you get those afternoon cravings. By eating a healthy lunch you will also help to keep your energy levels up for the rest of the day, and this also provides an opportunity to meet your daily fruit and vegetable intake.
Some simple principles to keep in mind when making a healthy lunch, include:
- Keep your lunch as fresh as possible. Avoid processed, pre-package, or frozen meals.
- Always include vegetables or salad at lunchtime. For a dressing choose lemon juice, olive oil, or apple cider vinegar. Balsamic vinegar is okay occasionally but is higher in sugar than the other vinegars. Avoid creamy dressings such as Caesar dressings and ranch dressings.
- Add some protein with your lunch, which will keep you feeling fuller. This may include, for example, a hard-boiled egg, lentils, beans, tofu, lean chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, tuna, salmon or sardines.
- Avoid processed meats like salami, prosciutto, chorizo, smoked salmon, Devon, and ham. Instead roast some beef, a turkey, or a chicken, yourself, and finely slice.
- Add a small amount of avocado to your salad. Keep in mind that avocado is rich in good fats but is very energy dense so you only need a small amount.
- If adding cheese choose lower fat feta or cottage cheese rather than hard cheeses.
- A salad sandwich is another option using the above fillings. Choose wholegrain bread rather than wholemeal or white bread. To save on the bread calories consider having an open sandwich with just one slice of bread. Avoid adding mayonnaise, BBQ sauce or tomato sauce to your sandwich. Use avocado instead and keep butter to a minimum. Season with a small amount of salt and pepper.
- A wholegrain wrap or tortilla is another option with the lowest calorie choice being Mountain bread. Mountain Bread can also be used to replace the pastry in lasagne, moussaka, pasties and quiches.
- Wholegrain crackers such as Ryvita are another option, as is corn and brown rice cakes.
- Of course you can always bring healthy leftovers from the night before to have as lunch.
- Drink only water or a cup of tea or coffee at lunchtime (preferably away from your meals to avoid digestion disruption). Avoid juice, alcohol, soft drinks, sweetened iced teas and flavoured milks which add unnecessary sugar and calories.
This week try to pack a healthy lunchbox each day by including some of the options that we’ve discussed above.