What you eat matters. The balance of food you have over the days, weeks and months of your life not only affects your physical health, but it affects your mental health too. While you’ll have seen plenty of solutions for healthier dinners, from home-delivered food kits to supermarket dinner combos, lunch is often forgotten about. It is the meal we often grab during the middle of the day between meetings, site visits and ticking off to-do lists.
It is super easy to gravitate towards carb-heavy options that are low in veg (especially if you are grabbing food on the run), so this meal often falls short when it comes to nutrition.
Having a balanced lunch with plenty of veggies, adequate protein, a little healthy fat and some wholegrain carbs can help you mentally and physically be your best.
Build yourself a healthier lunch as many days as you can this month.
Make it happen:
- Use this table to help you plan some nutritious lunch combos.
|Two handfuls of veggies
Having plenty of veggies can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. It can also reduce the likelihood of you struggling with depression.
|Ideally, aim for your two veggie handfuls to be, mostly, of the lower starch variety*
These veggies can be raw, cooked, roasted, made into soups or part of a dish
Examples: Asparagus, beetroot, bok choy, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, celery, cauliflower, cucumber, carrots, eggplant, fennel, leek, lettuce, mesclun, parsnip, peas, rocket, spinach
Protein-rich foods provide amino acids to support your body with growth and repair. Protein-rich foods also help you feel full and are important for a satisfying lunch that doesn’t leave you looking for a snack half an hour later.
|Carbohydrate, ideally wholegrain
These provide fuel for the brain and body as well as fibre to keep your gut healthy and reduce your risk of bowel cancer.
These provide fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Some contain omega-3 fatty acids, too, which are vital for a healthy brain and body.
Here are all sorts of ideas that use this principle as a base:
- 20 healthy work lunches you’ll love
- Tips to rework your leftover
- Like sandwiches? Make them sensational.
- Shop once, lunches for a week – check out these ideas here and here.
- Set it up on Sundays. If you work Monday to Friday, why not try, on Sunday, getting organised for the week ahead by prepping some veggies for snacks, prepping some protein portions, or getting a batch of soup on. If you work shifts or on other days of the week, just pick a day that suits you for your prep. An hour or so spent getting yourself set up can make it so much easier on busy workdays.
- If you are someone who likes variety, you could try setting up a routine for yourself such as crackers on Monday, sandwich on Tuesday, soup on Wednesday and so on. Or, if you prefer to keep it simple, pick one theme for the week such wraps or rice bowls and just mix it up during the week with the type of protein you use and extras that you add, be it a dressing or chutney.
- Check out these ideas and mark the ones you are keen to try. Print out the recipes so you have them handy and put a note in your calendar so you remember to make them.