So you have made some basic changes to your healthy eating plan but are you packing healthy lunches? Or are you heading out of the office for a fast food lunch or nibbling on snack food that you find in the staffroom. If you plan your lunches in advance you are more likely to stay on track with your healthy eating. Here are some healthy lunchbox options
Healthy Lunchbox Options
Even though you may be busy and tempted to skip lunch or just have a piece of fruit or biscuit when you feel peckish. By having a good healthy lunch, this helps to curb your appetite when you get those afternoon cravings. Eating lunch provides an opportunity to meet your daily fruit and vegetable intake and will also help keep your energy levels up for the rest of the day.
There are some general principles to keep in mind when making a healthy lunch, including:
- Firstly try to keep lunch as fresh as possible. Avoid processed, pre-package, or frozen meals.
- Always include salad or vegetables 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.
- Always include 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 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
- Of course you can always bring healthy leftovers from the night before to have as well.
- 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.
- Now that we have looked at some healthy lunch options what are some healthy snack options?
Healthy Lunchbox Snacks
Avoid the temptation to buy something sugary by having healthy snack options at hand. Enjoying a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack helps to keep blood sugar levels stable and keeps your metabolism working.
As with healthy lunches choosing a healthy snack is easy if you follow the following
- Do try and have protein with snacks also
- Avoid processed snacks which are often high in fat, sugar and/or salt
- Avoid chips, flavoured crackers or processed cheese
Healthy options include:
- Plain yoghurt with berries and oats sprinkled on top
- A small handful of raw nuts (unsalted and not roasted)
- Plain rice crackers with hummus
- A boiled egg
- Vegetable sticks with homemade dip
- Protein balls made with almond meal, tahini, cocao powder, xylitol, and rolled in desiccated coconut
- Wholegrain crackers or corn thins or brown rice cakes with about 1–2 teaspoons of almond butter
- Protein shake made from 1⁄2 cup almond milk, berries, 1 scoop whey isolate, rice protein or pea protein, 1 tsp ground flaxseed, and 1 tbsp psyllium husks
- If choosing muesli bars avoid those that are chocolate or yoghurt covered or have dried fruit and instead choose plain rolled oat bars.
As you can see by making some simple changes by packing a healthy lunchbox, it is key to making positive food choices and avoids unnecessary temptation due to being unprepared.