Picking the perfect lunch can be like finding the perfect partner. At first, we tend to go after the ‘fast food’ aka the tall | dark | handsome one who only cares for his own hair and his beauty sleep. It’s a very appealing option in the beginning and we justify to ourselves that it can’t be that bad for us. When we finally realise that we need to choose someone who can provide us with our basic and fundamental needs (unconditional love, acceptance, security) then we understand that what we’ve been doing for so long now feels like a misfit. The same goes for our food. Once we accept the role that food plays in our life – nutrition, energy and stimulation – then we can begin to make choices that are better for us.
Our hectic work schedules don’t make the ‘healthy option’ always seem the easiest, but below are the top five tips for ensuring a energising and nutritious lunch for your workday:
#1: Meal prep to avoid temptation
When do you feel the most motivated on an average week? For me, it’s on Sunday’s. So I shop, prep, cook and create all my meals for the week. That way when it comes around to meal time, I’m not having to engage my willpower or make the choice about which food to eat. My motivated and logical self has already made that decision for me! Meal prepping in advance and bringing your lunch to work can go a long way to ensuring you’re eating what your body needs and keeping off those extra kilos.
#2: Listen to what your body wants
Experiment with your body to see how it feels after certain meals. Had a high carbohydrate lunch and then feeling an energy crash around 3pm? That is NOT normal despite what the ads tell you about the wonders of an afternoon pick-me-up (enter more sugar!). Have you had a salad for lunch and then feel starving 30 minutes later? Your body is probably craving something more substantial for its energy needs. Our bodies has an amazing intuition that we only need to listen to and experiment with to get the right mix for what we need. Try out some different methods each week and find the one that works for you!
#3: Understand how to read food labels and advertising
If it’s got more than five ingredients in it then it’s a really processed food and not going to be easy for the digestive system. If it has ingredients that you can’t pronounce, how do you expect your body to know how to process them? Putting extra pressure on digestion causes the body to sometimes wrongly label and file items – in the worst instant it turns things straight into fat or treats them as a toxin and attacks them unnecessarily. Buying food as fresh and as unprocessed as possible is what our bodies know and understand how to digest.
#4: Take your time to source and eat your food
The rise of fast food not only relates to what we’re buying but also how we’re consuming that food. How often are you getting outside the office to actually eat the food, and taking the time to allow the body to digest it properly? If you’ve been to Japan, you’ll understand the difference between traditional sushi and the sushi roll you’re picking up from your local food court for lunch! The Japanese would cringe to know we’re not sitting down and drinking our tea with our fresh sashimi.
The Slow Food Movement is a great initiative founded in Italy to attempt to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions. It’s mission is to combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat and where it comes from. Choosing food that is local, close to its heritage and created with intention will not only feed the body, but also the soul.
#5: Watch what you drink
It doesn’t count if it’s in liquid form right? Liquids are one of the easiest ways to fill the body with unhealthy energy and pack on the kilos. Unfortunately, basically anything but water is filled with sugar (added or natural), chemicals or energy enhancers (and not the good type). One small 250ml glass of juice contains 5 teaspoons of sugar which is much more than your daily limit!
But there are ways to spruce up that water and make your body THINK it’s getting something sweet and delicious. Herbal teas are great to have hot or cold so you can use those flavours to spice up the water. You can also try buying sparkling water and adding in some of your favourite fruits as a flavour enhancer – lemon, berries, cucumber, etc. You don’t eat the solids, but the additions give it a crisp and fresh taste to get you through the afternoon.