healthy work lunch

While you may have the intention of bringing a healthy lunch to work, we've all found ourselves in high street coffee shops and sandwich shops buying a quick lunch on-the-go. Read on to find out which meals from the big high street chains are the healthy choice and which to avoid.

Pret A Manger

The Healthy Choice

Most of Pret's salads contain brown rice, quinoa, black rice, and buckwheat. These are all slow-releasing carbohydrates that keep you feeling fuller for longer.

  • Chicken, peppers & feta superbowl
  • Tuna Niçoise salad
  • Chef’s Italian chicken salad

Avoid using the salad dressings or limit how much you use as these can be high in saturated fat and sugar and will rapidly increase the calories of the salad.  

Avoid

Hot wraps are quite calorific and very high in salt. The calories in the Mac & Cheese can go up to 700 with more than half coming from saturated fats.

Also avoid “healthy" drinks. Some of the seemingly healthy drinks (i.e almond protein smoothie) contain the same amount of calories as a meal (450 calories), 90% of which is derived from sugar.

Marks and Spencer

The Healthy Choice

Wild Salmon and cucumber sandwich. Wild salmon is much better than farmed, and wholemeal bread will release the energy slower than white bread.  

Giant couscous, chick pea, edamame soy beans and green lentils salad. Add some plain chicken breast for some more protein. It contains a power house of nutrients that should keep you going and give you an energy boost.

Avoid

Mini roll selection and pasta with mayo dishes. This is a very carb-heavy meal, with a filling of sodium nitrite and lots of other things that aren’t advisable to eat.

Leon

The Healthy Choice

Original Superfood Salad. This salad is high in fibre, protein, and slow-release carbs like quinoa. The good fats from the avocado will keep you going longer and improve your heart health.

The Sicilian chicken meatball is also a good option with meat, but add a side of peas to up the veg and fibre intake. 

Avoid

Grilled Halloumi wraps and the cakes and sweet treats. The wrap is high in salt and saturated fat and it probably won’t keep you feeling full and you may be tempted for a cookie later.

Itsu

The Healthy Choice

The Perfect Chicken Bento salad, which is high in protein and is ideal post-workout. The zero salads are perfect if weight loss is your goal The rice bowls - Quinoa falafel or chicken Thai - are also healthy options and will keep you feeling full.

Avoid

Potsu noodles are very high in carbs and you will likely get a slump later in the afternoon. Some of the wraps are very high in sugar.

Costa

The Healthy Option

There are not many healthy options in Costa, but the free-range egg sandwich isn’t bad as it’s fairly low in calories and sugar.

Avoid

The paninis. The bacon and brie panini contains more sugar than a chocolate bar and has a very high salt content. Also avoid the sweet drinks such as the raspberry and white chocolate cooler, which has more sugar than a whole box of Mr Kipling cherry bake well tarts at 70g per serving!

Top Tips For Eating Lunch On-The-Go

  1. Keep starch to a minimum. Avoid pasta-heavy salads, large portions of white rice, and large baguette sandwiches. Starch can make you sluggish and sleepy and will end up going straight to your waistline.
  2. Ensure you have a large serving of protein. Your salad needs a proper helping of protein such as a chicken breast, salmon steak, a large serving of hummus or a base of quinoa. This will help you maintain blood sugar levels and will keep you going for longer.
  3. Include fibre. This will maintain blood sugar levels and provide sustained energy, wholegrain breads, brown rice or quinoa-based dishes are good sources as well as and always includes veg, always include some vegetables in your lunch.

About the author: Heather Taylor is a personal trainer, triathlete, and Sundried ambassador.

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