Healthy choices: How healthy is your LUNCH?

Choices, choices, choices. When faced with the lunchtime choices there are endless possibilities. When trying to make healthy choices, the safest option is often to take a packed lunch, especially if you want something that is quick, filling and nutritious.

What would you choose for lunch if you had to grab something quickly? Although some lunchtime choices look nutritious, they can be packed with unhealthy ingredients, many containing fat and salt, and more calories than you realise. Dressings and sauces on salads and in sandwiches are amongst the worst offenders.

But it need not be difficult…choose wisely and you’ll have plenty of energy to see you through the afternoon

  • Salads with beans, lean meat or eggs – try to avoid salads with sauces, such as a Caesar salad or salad Nicoise and creamy sauces or pesto on pasta salads
  • Sandwiches – egg and cress, salmon, chicken salad (without mayo), prawn mayo (low-fat) – you get the idea
  • Jacket potato with a low-fat topping such as baked beans, chilli or cottage cheese – be sure to eat the jacket that provides plenty of fibre
  • Cheese toastie – choose wholemeal or wholegrain bread, a low-fat cheese (like mozzarella) and add tomatoes or grilled vegetables
  • Homous with vegetable sticks and pitta bread
  • Soup and a bread roll – avoid soups with added cream but otherwise soups are a great choice
  • Sushi – a great choice, but avoid the soy sauce (too much salt!)

As with breakfast, always consider choosing foods from three of the four food groups (below) to ensure that you have a balanced meal. The easiest way to have a balanced meal may be to Include salad or vegetables, or follow with fruit or a yoghurt. Don’t have fruit juice if you already had some for breakfast…there’s a daily recommended limit of 150ml.

  • Fruits and vegetables – beans, pulses (like homous), fruit juice (150ml/day maximum)
  • Carbohydrates – bread, bread rolls, bagels, wraps, crackers, pasta, rice, baked potatoes (choose wholemeal or wholegrain if possible)
  • Dairy – milk, yoghurt, cheese
  • Protein – eggs, lean meat, fish, tofu, nuts

Try to avoid or reduce your reliance on a quick pasty, sausage roll, pork pie, burger, kebab, bacon or deli meats (like salami) as these have few nutrients and lots of fat, salt and calories.

The next step may be to invest in a lunchbox and a water bottle, so as to help save the planet as well as your health.

So choose a balanced meal at breakfast and lunchtime and see if your healthy choices help you find the energy you’ve searching for.

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