Healthy working lunch options

Most of us have read the W10 food stages system, and we know what we’re supposed to be eating. Check out the W10 food stages and W10 traffic lights nutrition systems or see the posters at the gym if you haven’t read them!

The fact is that preparing a healthy lunch in tupperware boxes for the working week is not a priority on everyone’s list. We wake up early, get home late and our weekends are focussed around the kids or relaxing and socialising rather than spending it prepping meals. Besides, chicken and broccoli gets deadly boring after a while and we want to get a bit more creative.

So, despite our best efforts or intentions, we can find ourselves leaving the house without having had breakfast, grab a croissant en route to the bus or tube stop or even skip breakfast altogether. Then by the time it’s midday, we feel starving but we only have half an hour to grab a quick sandwich, and then might indulge ourselves with a 4pm sweet treat because we need the ‘pick-me-up’.

This vicious circle has a bad impact on our energy levels and waistline, as once the sugar high from the convenience foods subsides, we are soon left in a slump which makes us crave more sugar. Ideally we want to have protein rich breakfasts and lunches, combined with some fats and low GI carbs (these are more filling and they provide us with energy for longer), but it’s not always something that many of us manage to do, because we don’t get organised.

On one hand, we feel like our fast paced city life doesn’t leave us time to plan our nutrition, but on the other hand, we are actually spoiled for choice when it comes to the working lunch. The trick is knowing what the healthy options are, so think about the foods listed in the green circle of the W10 food stages when making your choices: i.e. meat, fish, poultry, eggs, fruit and vegetables, oils, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices.

For those on the go, here’s a list of the healthier lunches available at the popular lunchtime go-to’s in London:

Leon: High protein breakfasts like the Smoked Salmon & Avocado, Poached Egg, Yoghurt and Porridge Pots. Lunch options like the Chargrilled Chicken and Meatball Salads and Hotboxes are great too but don’t get tempted by the sugar laden treats they offer – just because they are gluten free doesn’t mean they are not calorie dense with sugars, and these will still give you that high energy spike followed by a crash.

Crussh: Choose breakfast from a wide selection of nutritious porridges. For lunches, the Healthpots are a good option and you can combine them for a healthy filling lunch. Try the Black Lentil & Feta with the Superfoods Healthpot. The soups are a bit light on protein even when they are meat-based. Look out for protein rich salads containing poultry, fish, eggs etc.

Pret à Manger: At Pret, the soups are 100% natural and the protein varieties are generous with the meat portions. Pret also do a great-tasting range of protein rich salads and sushi. Again go for the salads that are Chicken, Crayfish, Tuna, Salmon, Quinoa or Egg based.

EAT: There’s a good range of protein rich salads at EAT but beware of the pies and some of the hotpots. They may sound like a good option to warm up as the temperature gets cooler but they can be laden with fat or high GI carbs and these won’t keep you energised for long.

Itsu : It’s easy to make a good choice at Itsu. Choose boxes that are not too heavy on the rice but contain mixed salads, edaname beans and plenty of fish. Go easy on the noodle meals – again, these are high in carbs and can lead to the slump in the afternoon.

It’s difficult to be consistent all the time but if you get into the habit of basing your choices on the green W10 traffic lights foods then you will stay on the right track.