Lunch is important. Eating in the middle of the day re-energises your body and raises your blood sugar levels, helping with your concentration and focus. Even a small lunch can renew your energy and help you feel refreshed.
Making time for a healthy lunch will pay off mentally and physically. But in our 9 til 5 working environments, it can often seem easier to make unhealthy, fast food choices for lunch. Skipping lunch is also a bad idea as you end up craving sugary foods and overeating later in the day.
Small Changes for Big Results
Making small changes to your diet is the healthiest and most achievable way to lose weight. So here are some healthy swaps you could make to start a change.
Ditch White Bread for Whole Grain
White bread sandwiches, rolls or baguettes are amongst the most common choices for lunch. The problem with white flour based products is that they have been stripped of nutritional value, resulting in empty calories that spike your blood glucose levels. Switching to whole grain breads or wraps gives you more fibre which helps feel fuller for longer. Whole grains are also a rich source of magnesium. A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that dietary fibre from whole grains were 49% less likely to gain weight compared to those eating foods made from refined grains.
Ditch bread full-stop. Have a salad instead
Why not ditch the bread altogether? A salad can be a nutritious, healthy, low calorie, and high protein option for lunch. However, make sure you avoid creamy or sweet dressings as they can be packed with calories.
Vegetables are low in calories, full of vitamins and minerals, and packed with fibre – which means you’ll feel full without consuming many calories. Fibre also improves the health of your digestive system.
You should choose a salad with decent amount of protein. Chicken, turkey, tuna or salmon are good choices. For vegetarians, look for bean salads or salad with eggs. Protein provides amino acids and helps build strong muscles, bones, and cartilage.
No to Micro Meals, Yes to Home-cooking
According to a poll done by the Telegraph, microwave meals are in the top 10 most popular lunches in Britain. Consumption of ready meal products has increased five times over the last 40 years, according to the National Food Survey on the food habits of the UK. While the often high levels of calories and fat in these products have to be displayed on the label, there are other concerns about these convenience products: What is the nutritional value? This is something that won’t be displayed on the label.
The concern come from the way that the products are produced. Cooking processes can be just as important as the sugar, fat and salt content. Essential nutrients can be lost from healthy foods depending on the cooking process and for how long they are cooked for. At home, we can do things like steam vegetables or grill meats for a healthy option. But we have no idea how the companies that produce ready meals have cooked the food.
Ready meal firms may also cut corners, using low quality products to save themselves money. An example of this is the use of rapeseed oil as a substitute for Virgin Olive Oil. While Virgin olive oil has well established health benefits, such as preventing cardiovascular disease, rapeseed oil does not. We don’t know how the companies have handled meat, how they have cooked meat, the quality of meat used… The message is simple, Avoid ready meals and cook at home!
Sometimes there’s not always enough time to cook lunch, or prepare a lunch for work the next day. However, finding quick and easy recipes to replace micro meals can improve your diet and give you control over what your are eating:
Find some ideas here