Q. "As a working parent, I just don’t have time to make my own lunch in the mornings. What should I look for when I’m trying to buy a healthy lunch?"
Ruby, Katoomba, VIC
A. Accredited Practising Dietitian Rebecca Lock responds:
People often ask me this question. Happily, you can easily find or prepare a healthy lunch when you’re at work.
Lunch is an important meal, as it’s our opportunity to refuel for the rest of the day. To do so, we need foods that can stabilise our blood-sugar levels, maintain our concentration, and prevent that dreaded three-thirtyitis. So what makes up a healthy lunch?
First, include plenty of colourful vegetables or salad to provide filling fibre and a wide range of nutrients, along with satisfying textures and flavours. Next, add lean protein, such as tuna, egg, chicken, tofu or legumes (such as beans, lentils or chickpeas). This way, you’ll feel full for longer and your blood-sugar levels will be more stable. Complete your lunch with a low-GI carbohydrate or grain-based food, like sweet potato, wholegrain bread, brown rice or quinoa, for lasting energy throughout the afternoon.
Here are my favourite healthy lunches for busy people:
Sandwiches, wraps or rolls
Grab a wholegrain variety and spread it with avocado’s ‘good’ fats and vitamins instead of butter or mayonnaise. Fill your grainy choice with salad, lean meat and some reduced-fat cheese.
Choose a salad with a variety of vegetables, protein (think meat, chicken, eggs, chickpeas or tofu), and a wholegrain food (such as quinoa, brown rice or couscous). Just remember to forgo creamy dressings in favour of a drizzle of olive oil or balsamic vinegar.
Sushi and rice-paper rolls
You can now find sushi made of brown rice or quinoa. Avoid tempura and other deep-fried fillings, and choose rolls of veg instead. Go easy on the dipping sauce, too, as this is often high in saturated fat or salt, or both.
These ideas should help all time-poor people to eat well at lunch — from working parents to others who are always on the go.