For busy professionals, keeping on track with health and wellness can seem challenging.
Between month-end deadlines, endless meetings and that gigantic list of to-do’s, it can be all too easy to chug back an energy drink and chocolate bar for lunch, while making a mental note to get back on the healthy bandwagon tomorrow.
But when a day becomes a week and a week a month, we begin to do damage to our productivity, concentration and overall performance. We might find ourselves in the grip of unstable moods, poor sleep and sugar cravings, too.
We’re a very time-poor society, and most of us are juggling work, family, relationships and social commitments. But even for the busiest of folk, lunch should be a non-negotiable part of our work day. It provides a pit stop for our body; a place to refuel so we’re able to zoom into the afternoon, without crashing into a ditch at 3pm.
Not only will eating a wholesome lunch at work help us to feel more energised - both mentally and physically - we’ll also experience better weight management, and may even save some money from skipping all those snack-stops and café lunches.
A little planning on a Sunday goes a long way
Make sure you have all the fridge and pantry supplies you need to put together a balanced lunch. Making sure your lunch contains each of the following food groups will help your blood sugar levels remain stable into the afternoon, and ensure you’re receiving a good balance of nutrients:
- Around ½ a cup of complex carbohydrate, e.g. kumara, brown rice, pumpkin, legumes or beans, or 1-2 slices grainy breads or 2 brown rice cakes.
- Good quality protein - aim for a portion around the size of your palm, e.g. fish, chicken, eggs, beef, nuts, tofu, legumes or beans, or dairy.
- Vegetables - at least two big handfuls, e.g. leafy greens or colourful fresh, tinned or frozen varieties.
- Healthy fats, e.g. a drizzle of olive oil, ¼ avocado, ¼ cup nuts or seeds, 1-2 tbsp nut butter/pesto/hummus or 2-3 tbsp cheese.
Preparing a healthy lunch at work doesn’t need to be hard
Here are some quick and easy ideas:
- Two brown rice cakes spread with pesto/hummus, topped with tinned salmon and two big handfuls of rocket. Squeeze with lemon juice.
- Leftovers! Simply cook a little extra the night before of whatever you’re having and refrigerate for lunch the next day - an economical way to ensure you’re eating healthy the following day.
- Brown rice (microwavable pots are super quick), mixed with a few tablespoons of flavoured hummus, shredded chicken breast and chopped salad.
- Butterbean Greek salad: Mix together tinned butterbeans, tomato, cucumber and red onion, and season with olive oil and vinegar.
- Homemade lentil and vegetable soup. Cook a large pot and freeze portions for speedy lunches.
- Ryvita crackers topped with hummus, swiss cheese slices and tomato. Serve with salad greens on the side.
- Two slices of quality grainy bread spread with avocado, topped with sliced tomato, a handful of greens and boiled egg.
- Chickpea salad, made using tinned chickpeas, tomato, cucumber and spinach, tossed with feta cheese and olive oil.
- Wedge of frittata (equivalent of two eggs and a serving of veggies) served with a side salad.
- Brown rice sushi with salad.
- Quick tuna nicoise salad: Boiled potatoes, tinned tuna, boiled egg, chopped tomato, red onion, seasoned with olive oil and vinegar.
Eliminate excuses by stocking up on supplies at work
Bring a supply of easy-to-eat bits and pieces to stash in your desk or in the refrigerator/freezer at work:
- Tins of salmon/tuna/chickpeas/butterbeans/lentils.
- Single portions of soup from home or the supermarket stored in the fridge/freezer.
- Wholegrain crackers or rice cakes in an airtight container.
- Bags of salad for the fridge.
- Pots of hummus/pesto for the fridge.
- Frozen/steam pouches of veggies in the freezer.
- Container of nuts and seeds.
- Small bottle of olive oil/vinegar for easy and healthy salad dressing – ditch the processed sugary kinds!
Keep an eye out for my next post on how blood sugar balance affects concentration & workplace productivity.
For loads more delicious wholesome recipes and ideas, check out healthyalways.co.nz