Eating well throughout the day can really benefit your performance at work. In most workplaces, there is no time for lunch-time siestas! Therefore it’s important to make smart lunch choices.
We need to focus on eating a good variety of healthy food, but also eating the correct portions. Too much fat or carbohydrate can leave you sleepy, as your body will be working overtime to process these nutrients. On the other hand, if you don’t eat enough carbohydrate, your mind and body won’t be able to function properly (and you’ll be reaching for the lolly jar come 3pm!).
Follow these tips for the perfect portions to keep you energized at work.
- Approximately 80-100g lean meat/chicken/fish/tofu OR ½ cup legumes/2 eggs
- ½ – 1 cup of cooked grains (look to wholegrains such as brown rice, quinoa, wholemeal pasta, farro) OR 2 slices of wholegrain bread/1 small-medium wholegrain roll
- >2 cups salad vegetables – aim to include a substantial amount of vegetables at lunch. This provides maximal fibre and micronutrients, with minimal kilojoules.
- Healthy fats – select one or two of the following: ¼ an avocado, 1-2 teaspoons oil (i.e. extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil), 20g cheese (try goats cheese – a little goes a long way), 10-15 nuts, ½ tablespoon tahini or other nut/seed butter.
A Note on Caffeine
While recent studies have praised the health benefits of a moderate intake of coffee (3-5 cups/day), too much caffeine can negatively impact your concentration levels and leave you irritable. Ensure that you remain hydrated with water, and look to wholesome food, fresh air and exercise (rather than caffeine) for a pick-me-up. Next time you’re feeling sleepy, step outside for a bit of fresh air or do a few star jumps, rather than reaching for an energy drink. You’re sure to feel energised.
Balanced Lunch Examples
Salad Sandwich: 2 x dark rye bread, with avocado, lettuce, grated carrot, cucumber, tomato, beetroot, low-fat tasty cheese, lean chicken breast and seeded mustard.
Quinoa Salad: 2/3 of a cup of cooked quinoa, with leftover roasted vegetables (cauliflower, zucchini, pumpkin, carrot), peas and baby spinach, plus grilled tofu, feta and a drizzle of flaxseed oil.
Ryvita: 4 x Ryvita, spread with hummus or avocado, tomato, cucumber, baby spinach and tinned salmon.