A good lunch kicks off with breakfast. A serving of protein such as an egg, peanut butter, hummus or yoghurt; and a portion of wholegrain carbohydrate is a perfect balance. Your metabolism is in full swing, you aren’t craving all morning and struggling with low blood glucose and you approach lunch in a more controlled mode rather than craving for happy, quick fix foods. It is also much easier to manage portions if you are not starving.
Snacks are also important and anything that has protein and is not over-processed is a good option. A great afternoon snack at home or in the office is a lentil and vegetable soup and there are a number of nutrient dense and portable options available at the supermarket if you don’t make your own.
A balanced lunch looks like:
- One to two portions of a carbohydrate food (1 -2 slices bread, 1/3 – 2/3 cup cooked rice or pasta)
- With the same size portion of protein – meat, fish, chicken, eggs, lentils or dairy.
- If you are very active or planning to go to the gym or have an after school activity, add another carbohydrate either here or on your way to the event.
Fats are butter, cheese, coconut, nuts, avocado, oily fish and oils from olive, nut, coconut, rice bran, rapeseed and grapeseed. That means no seed oils such as corn, soy, safflower, sunflower, canola and peanut.
A child’s lunch-box:
Children grow exponentially in the first years of their lives and learning is never greater. School days are their work and we have such high expectations for them to keep up and succeed.
A good approach to the school lunch-box is to make it foods that promote health and brain function and keep the treat foods for the weekend when they can sleep them off and relax. Many of the industrialised foods we give our children set off a cascade of fireworks in their brains which do not support normal behavior, learning or performance.
You don’t need to be too creative but variety is a good tactic.
Wholegrain bread, pizza, Arabic pockets and wraps give variety on wheat; rice wrappers, rice noodles and a rice stirfy from the night before is easy to pack and eat warmed or cold.
If potatoes are an easy option, make some potato or chickpea based fish or corn cakes or a baked potato. Beans are great combined with tuna or chicken, corn, peppers and a good olive oil.
A favourite of my children’s for lunch, picnics and on all day activities was a Scotch egg made either with sausage meat or chicken mince and a slice of fresh breadcrumbs mixed into the meat. In fact they made their own with great pride.
One of the big tasks we as parents and teachers have is getting back to basics and learning to use simple, raw ingredients, butter, whole-grains, artisan breads, good fats, and being organized ahead of time so that we achieve healthy eating for 80% of the week. That way our children will not grow up dependent on satisfying the switch that is illuminated by the subtle combination of fructose corn syrup, trans fats and salty flavor enhancers that make convenience foods so very addictive and have changed the way we eat and how our metabolism functions. These foods must be considered as a weekly treat and not an everyday food.
The focus of adult eating needs to start with a very generous serving of vegetables and protein and the emphasis is also on adding good fats to increase the nutrient density and develop the flavours. Depending on how active you are, you can add in one or two portions of a carbohydrate. That is 1 or 2 slices of bread, 1/3 to 2/3 cup cooked rice or pasta, a medium sized potato. You are getting the picture here that lunch is not a carbohydrate fiesta but a time to balance carbohydrates with your weight goals and energy needs for activites that day.
Some great choices round town are:
- a Nicoisse salad with a few small potatoes
- a rice wrap loaded with vegetables and chicken
- ½ Arabic bread stuffed with falafels and salad
- a small portion of rice with a large portion of vegetable and meat or lentil curry
- can of Rio Salatuna with a slice of wholegrain artisan bread
- a fragrant Vietnamese Pho soup
- 4 Maki rolls with vegetables and sashimi
- a large salad with lots of avocado, halloumi, hummus, beans or meat and a tangy vinaigrette
- one 6 inch shawarma and a salad
- ¼ pizza with lots of salad
- Meat or lentil patty in a quality artisan bread and salad
- fish with vegetables and a small portion of fries but this is a treat
By eating regularly and supplying the quality, your metabolism will reset to gauge quantity!