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Monday, May 24, 2010

The perfect lunch

How difficult can it be to get lunch right? A couple of slices of bread with a tin of tuna and some tomato and all should be good? What you choose to eat for lunch can have a huge impact on your mood, energy and appetite for the remainer of the day. In fact, choosing the right lunch may even help to protect you from the dreaded 3pm munchies so it is well worth knowing how to get the balance exactly right.

A nutritionally balanced lunch should include some low glycaemic index carbs such as wholegrain bread, beans, crackers or pasta, teamed with a good serve of lean protein such as tuna, chicken breast or egg as well as plenty of salad vegetables. For those of you who routinely ditch the carbs in favour of tuna and salad therein lies the problem. Denying the body of carbohydrates during the day, when both your brain and your muscles require them for energy leaves you prone to sugar cravings and low energy levels later in the afternoon when your brain finally realizes that it does not have enough readily available fuel to function optimally. Including a small serve of nutritious carbohydrates such as 1-2 slices of grain bread, a few wholegrain crackers or a small tin of beans or corn is all the carbohydrate you will need to avoid this scenario.

The most common component of lunch that we get wrong is not including enough bulky salad or vegetables with our standard choices. Plain sandwiches, sushi, noodle dishes and soups may all be healthy lunch choices but they do not contain the bulk to keep you full throughout the afternoon. Ideally lunch will include at least 1 cup of salad or vegetables. Great options include adding a salad or vegetable based soup to your regular sandwich or sushi, or simply taking an extra carrot, cucumber or capsicum to cut up and enjoy with your lunch.

It may also be useful to know that high carbohydrate lunch choices including heavy noodle and rice dishes, Turkish bread sandwiches and smoothies can contain the equivalent of 3-4 slices of regular bread in full, which can leave you prone to sugar high’s and low’s. Instead choosing lighter carbohydrate options such as brown rich sushi, wrap breads or salads made with beans and corn teamed with a palm size serve of lean protein will give you an optimal nutritional balance and a tasty lunch to match.

Top lunch choices Total kJ Total fat (g)
2 Tuna Sushi Rolls 1400 6
Chicken and salad wrap 1200 6
Frittata and salad 1200 7
Tuna, beans and salad 1000 7
Wholegrain crackers with salmon 1200 6
Leftover pasta with meat and vegetable sauce 1400 7

Worst lunch choices
Chicken and avocado on Turkish 3200 54
Pad Thai 3400 46
Burger and fries 3700 40
Quiche 2000 30
Stir fry chicken and rice 2000 30
Pesto chicken salad 2000 35