Five ways to have a healthier lunchtime

Choose your food carefully, don’t eat at your desk – and try for a quick burst of exercise

Get away from your office and eat your lunch outside if you can. Photograph: E+/iStock/Getty

Get away from your office and eat your lunch outside if you can. Photograph: E+/iStock/Getty

 

Make your own lunch

It is cheaper and you know what is in it. Healthy leftovers from the night before, bulked up with extra vegetables or a salad, can be a good option, says Gillian Killiner, a dietitian. Shop-bought convenience food “should be the last resort”, she says. “It can be laden with pro-inflammatory ingredients, especially cheap vegetable oils and fillers, which do not provide long-acting energy, so leave you hungry and unsatisfied.”

Don’t eat at your desk

Eat your food somewhere peaceful, perhaps outdoors. If you eat at your desk you will probably carry on working rather than focusing on your food, which could lead to weight gain. “The receptor from the gut to brain will not work optimally and leaves you feeling unsatisfied and reaching for more without realising what you have already consumed,” Killiner says. Sitting hunched over, eating mindlessly without chewing well, can also cause or exacerbate gastrointestinal issues.

Maximise your workout

An hour (if you are lucky) may not sound long enough to travel, change, work out, shower, eat and be back at your desk, but it is possible to exercise at lunchtime. Hollie Grant, a personal trainer, says high-intensity interval training, or Hiit, is “the quickest way to get fit in the shortest amount of time. It’s short bursts of hard work; you can easily do a Hiit workout in 20 minutes.” You don’t need a gym – you can turn a run into a Hiit workout by alternating 30-second sprints with 30 seconds of jogging or walking. You could do the same on a bike, or in a pool. Just remember to warm up and cool down – and to eat afterwards, not before, says Grant.

Drink mindfully

It is best to drink water often and in small amounts, Killiner says. “Too much liquid at meals can cause some people to have acid reflux, which can cause pain and bloating.” About 250ml of water should be enough with a meal, but Killiner suggests drinking 500ml about 30 minutes before lunch. “It assists with reducing hunger, allowing more control in selecting healthier options when meals come round.”

Avoid the postlunch slump

That feeling of wanting a nap – or a chocolate bar – shortly after lunch can be staved off with better food choices. The slump can be made worse with carb-heavy meals, such as lots of bread, pasta or potatoes. Killiner recommends instead “eating nutritious choices such as white or oily fish and seafood, brown rice, oat cakes, quinoa and a variety of colourful vegetables. Sprinkle with some seeds or nuts.” – Guardian

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