Healthy Lunches to Keep You Full at Work
Eating at work has evolved in so many ways.
For a start we have legally protected lunch breaks, rather than just being sent down the mine with a meat pasty in a tin box. Unfortunately, many us of are guilty of three huge sins when it comes to how we use our lunch breaks: sticking to sandwiches filled with processed meats or sweet spreads, going to a nearby restaurant or takeaway for a quick fix and eating at our desks while we work.
Now these first two lunching sins are often done out of ease, but are often the most detrimental to living a healthy lifestyle. Common savoury sandwich fillings like ham, bacon, cheddar and eggs are all processed and contain some fat while jam, marmalade and peanut butter spreads often contain more than your recommended daily intake of sugar. Eating out meanwhile puts too many variables into your diet. While you could go with the “safe” option – a salad or a low-fat wrap – you don’t know what exactly has gone into making it and more often than not, its high amounts of salt.
When maintaining a healthy lifestyle, its always best to prepare your own lunches, which can be unappealing to some. They either don’t want to spend their nights cooking twice or fear that healthy lunches will leave them hungry again after only a few hours. So here are some of our favourite lunchbox recipes that are both easy and filling. We’ll also explain which ingredient will keep you full through to dinner-time and how it does it:
5-Ingredient Pesto Pasta Salad – (from gimmesomeoven.com)
Total Time to Make: 15 Mins Servings: 4
- 450g whole wheat pasta
- 2 red peppers, roughly chopped
- basil pesto
- 1 ball of fresh mozzarella, diced
- 3 handfuls of rocket leaves
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of lightly-salted water according to package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, either soften the chopped red peppers in a very lightly-oiled pan for a few minutes or, if you own a gridle pan, roast them to preference. Put aside once done.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain and rinse under cold water for around 20-30 seconds or until it cools down.
- In a large serving bowl, toss the pasta, cooked red peppers, basil pesto, diced mozzarella and rocket leaves together until combined. Once refrigerated in sealed containers, they will last up to 3 days
Our filling ingredient here is whole wheat pasta. Compared to its more popular counterpart it’s much richer in fibre. This bulks out your meal with a slowly digestible ingredient, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer after eating. It also has less calories (if you’re counting) and is full of vitamins and minerals, so is overall better for you than regular pasta.
10-Minute Tuna Wrap – (from greenhealthycooking.com)
Total Time to Make: 10 Mins Servings: 2
- 2 large whole wheat tortillas
- 1 or 2 tins of tuna in water (avoid brine or oil)
- Cos lettuce
- Half a cucumber
- 1 bell pepper of any colour
- Fresh avocado or sour cream dip (optional)
- Wash the cucumber, bell pepper and lettuce.
- Drain the tuna in their tins.
- Thinly slice the cucumber and bell pepper into strips.
- Dry and halve the lettuce leaves.
- Place down the whole wheat tortillas.
- Place the lettuce, tuna, cucumber and bell pepper on the bottom half of the tortillas without touching the edges (place them on top of your dip if you used one).
- Roll up the wraps by folding in the sides, bringing up the bottom flap then continuing to roll until the ingredients are secured.
- Cut both wraps in middle and either eat both or save one for the following day.
There are two filling ingredients in here, the whole wheat tortilla and the tuna. While the tortilla provides similar benefits to the whole wheat pasta due to its high fibre content, the real super ingredient here is the tuna. It provides high amounts of Omega 3, which lowers blood pressure, strengthens bones, encourages weight loss and most importantly provides the energy needed to keep working.
Easy Margherita Flatbread Pizza – (from letthebakingbegin.com)
Total Time to Make: 15 Mins Servings: 2
- 1 large whole wheat naan bread
- 3/4 slices of fresh mozzarella
- 1 tomato, thinly sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Salt and Pepper
- Fresh basil leaves (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180oc/350F.
- Press the garlic cloves and mix with the oil.
- Brush the naan bread with half of the garlic oil mixture and place into the oven for 5 minutes or until crisp.
- Remove from the oven and place the slices of mozzarella on top of the naan, sprinkling with salt and pepper.
- Place the thinly sliced tomatoes on top of the mozzarella and repeat sprinkling with salt and pepper.
- Put the topped naan back in the oven for 5 minutes, then grill for an extra 2-3 minutes. Watch the naan carefully during this and do not allow it to burn.
- Meanwhile, mix the remaining garlic oil with the balsamic vinegar, stirring until fully mixed.
- Chop as much basil as you like.
- Taking your finished pizza out of the oven, drizzle however much of the garlic oil and vinegar mix you would like over it and sprinkle the chopped basil.
- Slice the pizza which will then keep for up to 2 days.
We once again have a fibre-heavy hero in using a whole wheat naan bread over a flour-based naan bread, but mozzarella plays an important role in keeping people eating healthily. As a country, the UK is obsessed with cheese, eating around 700,000 tonnes of the stuff every year. However, they contain high amounts of fat and dairy that is not easy to work off if you’re planning to lose weight. Mozzarella, along with swiss and feta cheese, are good low-fat alternatives. They satisfy your cheese cravings, which makes you less likely to snack on fatty cheeses and ruin your healthy eating kick.
Now that we have a healthy lunch ready to go, where are you eating it?
This brings us back to our third lunch break sin: eating at your desk while continuing to work. Over 40% of office workers in the UK regularly eat at their desks during lunch, but this has potentially disastrous for your healthy lifestyle.
By continuing to work and dealing with multiple distractions, not only does your brain miss out on a much-needed pause and refresh, but it changes you how you consume food and your health forecast. Distractions make you more likely to overeat as you burn energy and feel the need to get more food. Meanwhile, sitting for hours on end as you avoid moving to the breakroom has been shown to have long term effects on your health, as you burn less calories and contribute to back problems later in life.
Even if you work in an industry that only allows for short breaks, it is still important that you leave your work area and take in something new. Depending on the length of your break, we recommend doing the following:
15 Minutes: Either: Sit in your breakroom with your back straight, doing a small series of neck, arm and leg exercises. Or: Walk the length of your breakroom up to 10 times while doing small neck and arm exercises. This will loosen any muscles that grow stiff while still to a desk and you will feel more refreshed upon returning to work.
30 minutes: Take a 5-10 minute walk, outside if the weather is good or around a few different corridors if the weather is bad. Vary your route every few days, as new surroundings will stimulate your brain and help you stay awake. If you wish to exercise more, extend your walk to 15 or 20 minutes but don’t forget to eat, as you will need the energy later.
45 minutes: Take a 15-20 minute walk, outside if the weather is good or around a few different corridors if the weather is bad. If you have a park within 10 minutes’ walk of your workplace, try and eat there when the weather permits. Fresh air clears the mind and improves blood flow. Once again, you can extend your walk but don’t forget to eat.
1 hour: In good weather, walk out to a local park/public space and stay there for 30-45 minutes, eating and occasionally exercising. In bad weather, go between different rooms in your workplace and socialise with colleagues if you can. By distracting yourself from your work, you come back to it with a new perspective and could even improve upon it.
Change is never easy.
However, with the right mentality and a slow-and-steady approach, even you can transform your bad work habits into easy lifestyle improvements. Share these tips and recipes with your colleagues, swap new recipes and exercises during your breaks together, and if you happen know any colleagues heading towards their 50s or 60s, let them know about our next two blogs in this series. We’ll be sharing our best low-impact exercise routines and delicious two-person recipes that are fun to cook together.
Don’t forget, were still offering 3 month’s free gym membership to everyone who signs up for a new policy in January! For all the young professionals and families out there, we recommend getting in early with Level-Term Life Insurance. This will pay out a fixed amount to your loved ones no matter when the worst should happen. So click the button below for your free, no-obligation quote, then come back on Friday when we switch our focus to our elders and how you’re never too old to start living a healthier lifestyle.