Breakfast is always lauded with praise about being the most important meal of the day but spare a thought for the humble lunch. Whether a jacket potato floats your boat or a a simple sandwich will suffice this is one meal that shouldn't be overlooked.
With this firmly in mind I thought it might be useful to cover ideas for eating well at this vital part of the day and discover how to make the most of your lunchtime, even on those days you end up eating it at your desk, or snatching something on the run as you rush out of the door to pick a child up from nursery...
It’s not difficult to see how making your own lunch can be a more health-conscious decision than eating shop-bought fare. Packaged foods often rely heavily on calorie laden spreads to enhance the flavour and ensure the food still tastes good even after sitting in a chiller cabinet for a while. Not only are you able to use lower fat spreads (or to avoid them altogether) when you make your own lunch, you are also able to tailor your food to your own personal tastes. You can throw in a piece of fruit, a yoghurt or some other healthy treat and all for a much lower cost than you would end up paying in a sandwich bar or cafe.
Try to include a balance of items from the five major food groups, with the emphasis being on carbohydrates (such as bread, rice, potatoes and cereals) and fruit and vegetables. Bananas are a good choice as they’ll leave you feeling full for longer as the afternoon goes on. Protein should also be included, although it’s wise to try and stick to lean proteins such as turkey or fish. Equally, certain amounts of milk and dairy products are necessary and something like a low fat yoghurt would definitely tick the box.
‘Treat’ items containing a large quantity of fats and/or sugars should be treated as exactly that - treats. Fine from time to time and in small quantities, but they won’t make you feel good if they are the sole components of your lunch
Your mind takes at least twenty minutes to register that you’ve eaten something, so if it’s at all possible, take half an hour or so as a minimum at lunch time. If you are able to do so, go outside and get some fresh air as well. If you must stay at your desk, try and leave your work alone and do something different such as reading a book. Your mental health is as important as your physical health and you will perform much better during the afternoon if your mind and body both feel as though you’ve taken a reasonable, nourishing break.
If you’re stuck for ideas on how to vary your midday meal, check out the links below for some starting points on healthy lunch options no matter what your circumstances might be!