Does this sound like you? Can I guess why? Like a lot of the women I see, you've had a coffee and maybe a slice of toast for breakfast. You've chosen a tuna salad for lunch - because you are trying to be "good". By 3 pm you are all about the easy carbs - picking at the kids’ leftovers and in and out of the kitchen after dinner. That's because you've barely eaten enough to make it from your bed to the sofa let alone provide yourself with enough energy to do all the things you need to do in your day! Crowd out the junk food by getting your lunch right.
A healthy balanced lunch will include:
· lean protein such as tuna, chicken, egg, beans, nuts and seeds or greek yoghurt. Aim to get 20-30g of protein with lunch
· high quality carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, brown rice or quinoa, sweet potatoes
· about two fists worth of mixed veggies
· and a small amount of healthy fat – avocado, nuts, extra virgin olive oil
Getting your lunch right will give you the vital nutrients and sustained energy to power you through the afternoon and prevent evening over-eating.
If you're trying to stick to a healthy eating program you can get quickly derailed at lunch time by a visit to the food court. Most food court lunches contain about 30% more calories than most of us need, plus tend to be high in saturated fat and salt. Plus, think of the money you’ll save – about $4800 a year by my sums!
Take a bit of time on a Sunday to plan out some lunches for the week. Here are my top tips:
My number one tip is to cook extra protein the night before. For example, cook an extra chicken breast, hamburger patty, eggs or a substantial salad. The next day (or that evening), add to a salad bowl, or make a delicious wrap or sandwich with plenty of salad and a little relish. I also add a container of cherry tomatoes, baby cucumbers and carrots for some crunch, or as afternoon tea with some hummus. Here are some favourite recipes for leftovers:
Portion out your lunch for the next day when you are serving up dinner - this will remove the temptation to go back for seconds.
2. QUICK SUPERMARKET FINDS
You made your lunch – but you left it at home! Rather than abandoning your healthy eating goals detour to the supermarket and pick up some of these options. Better yet – grab extra of the shelf stable options for the next time life gets in the way! Yes, these are more processed food products, but it’s important to put those processed foods into context of your whole diet. If you can pair a processed food with plenty of whole foods, the meal is more balanced. While you’re at the supermarket grab some salad or some chopped up veggies, there’s loads of great options in the fresh section these days.
· John West Tuna & Beans
Shelf stable, tasty, plenty of fibre - what's not to love? I like to combine with a brown rice pot and add extra crunchy veggies on the side.
· Edgell’s bean salad or Naked Kitchen's Mexican Black Bean Chili.
Both great vegetarian options with loads of fibre. If you don't get many legumes in your regular diet these make a great addition.
If you have a freezer at work you can add in some frozen veggies and some good quality wraps or bread too.
Cook up a big pot at night or on the weekend, so that you have enough for leftovers. Here is a recipe for my Italian country soup which is really filling and gets you well on the way to hitting your veggie and fibre targets.
If you're stocking up at the supermarket the La Zuppa pouch range is good - I like the Kale, Quinoa and Vegetable or the Italian minestrone. The Campbell's Simply Soup Healthy Greens is 68% vegetables and quite tasty. I usually need to add a hard-boiled egg and a slice of grainy bread to the store bought options to fill me up.
4. MEAL PREP SUNDAY
Spending a bit of time on a Sunday roasting some veggies, boiling some eggs, making some salad dressing or boiling up some quinoa makes you feel like a rock star on Monday when you have lunch sorted. Simple combinations that I like are:
roast sweet potatoes topped with mexican spiced black beans (just saute up some tinned black beans with a tin of chopped tomatoes and some mexican spice mix) topped with greek yoghurt
nicoise salad- prep the eggs, veggies and dressing on Sunday then just add tuna at your desk
drain, rinse and pat dry a tin of chickpeas, toss with a mix of cumin, ground coriander, paprika, and some chilli flakes and 1 tablespoon of EVOO and roast at 220 for about 20 minutes. A great protein addition to salads.
Rachel is a university qualified Clinical Nutritionist based in Balmain. She is also the busy working mum of two teenagers, so is practical and realistic with her advice . Rachel offers private consultations to improve your family's health and well-being. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram for more healthy tips and tricks.