What’s for lunch?

How does your lunch­box stack up? Ac­cred­ited prac­tis­ing di­eti­cian Katie Al­li­son of­fers these healthy sug­ges­tions for long-haul road trips

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WHETHER YOU are pack­ing a healthy lunch­box for work or a long day on the road, the same ba­sic prin­ci­ple ap­plies – aim to in­clude a va­ri­ety of nu­tri­tious op­tions that are de­li­cious, fill­ing, and will fuel your con­cen­tra­tion.

To do this, sim­ply fol­low the check­list be­low. This can be eas­ily adapted to suit your tastes.

SIX LUNCH­BOX ES­SEN­TIALS

1. Whole­grain or high-fi­bre carb

op­tion 2. Some veg­eta­bles 3. A fruit op­tion 4. A lean pro­tein 5. A re­duced-fat dairy op­tion 6. A lit­tle healthy fat Plus plenty of wa­ter.

The right bal­ance is im­por­tant – not just for your health, but to help keep you feel­ing fuller for longer and fu­elling your con­cen­tra­tion. Read on for ideas to bal­ance your lunch­box. 1. Whole­grain or high-fi­bre car­bo­hy­drate Car­bo­hy­drates are an im­por­tant source of en­ergy for your brain and body. Higher-fi­bre op­tions will be more fill­ing and are packed with ex­tra vi­ta­mins and min­er­als com­pared to re­fined al­ter­na­tives. For ex­am­ple: • Whole­grain/whole­meal bread, rolls

or wraps • High-fi­bre tor­tillas • Whole­meal pita breads • Multi­grain/whole­meal English

muffins • Brown rice • Whole­meal pasta • Bar­ley • Quinoa • Legumes e.g. baked beans,

chick­peas or lentils • Whole grain ce­real • Grain crack­ers • Air popped pop­corn • High-fi­bre ce­real bar • Mini corn frit­ters/pikelet/scone/fruit

muf­fin based on whole­meal flour 2. Some veg­eta­bles Veg­gies are a great source of fi­bre with not too many kilo­joules. This means they give you more bang for your buck! The fi­bre con­tent of veg­eta­bles will also be fill­ing and is a good rea­son to pile on the veg­gies through­out the day. For ex­am­ple: • Veg­etable soup • Add let­tuce, sprouts, cu­cum­ber and

grated car­rot to sand­wiches • Diced cel­ery or cu­cum­ber mixed with low-fat mayo tuna or mashed egg • Veg­etable frit­tatas • Veg­etable sticks or cherry toma­toes

with hum­mus/salsa • Mini muffins with grated zuc­chini

and car­rot • Grilled veg­etable ke­babs 3. A fruit op­tion Fruit, like veg­gies, are a great source of fi­bre and vi­ta­mins and min­er­als, which may help keep you feel­ing fuller for longer. Fruit of­ten con­tains more kilo­joules than most veg­eta­bles so you still need to be aware of your por­tions. For ex­am­ple: • Fresh e.g. fruit salad or fruit ke­babs • Opt for fresh most of the time but

other op­tions in­clude: • Canned (in nat­u­ral juice) • Dried (small amounts) 4. A lean pro­tein Pro­tein is im­por­tant for the growth and re­pair of your body. Adding some pro­tein to your meal has also been found to help keep you fuller be­tween meals. Aim to choose lean va­ri­eties of pro­tein such as skin­less chicken or meat with the fat trimmed. This will help re­duce your in­take of sat­u­rated fat and ul­ti­mately help your choles­terol lev­els. For ex­am­ple: • Lean va­ri­eties of turkey, roast beef,

chicken • Canned tuna or other fish • Eggs • Tofu • Legumes e.g. baked beans, lentils,

chick­peas 5. A re­duced-fat dairy op­tion ion Dairy op­tions or al­ter­na­tiveses tend to be a good source of pro­tein ein and cal­cium. For ex­am­ple: • Low-fat milk drinks • Low-fat yo­ghurt • Low-fat cus­tards (as an

oc­ca­sional treat) • Re­duced-fat cheese • Dairy al­ter­na­tives e.g. soy y

va­ri­eties 6. A lit­tle healthy fat Healthy fats such as mono- and polyun­sat­u­rated fats can help elp sup­port heart health and are e an im­por­tant part of healthy eat­ing. at­ing. Fat can be high in kilo­joule­ses so it is im­por­tant to watch your por­tioni size.i For ex­am­ple: • A quar­ter of an av­o­cado • Small hand­ful of un­salted nuts • A lit­tle olive oil on a salad

Pack­ing a bal­anced lunch also means you are much more likely to eat less kilo­joules and added sugar, sat­u­rated fat and salt com­pared to take-away op­tions.

One of the big­gest chal­lenges to do­ing this is find­ing time.

For a busy week, try some of these time-sav­ing tips: • Pre­pare ex­tra food the night be­fore – al­ter­nate serv­ing it with salad or cooked veg­eta­bles to mix things up • Don’t for­get there are lots of con­ve­nient quick op­tions avail­able at the su­per­mar­ket such as pre-mixed sal­ads, mi­crowave rice or veg­etable sa­chets and canned tuna or salmon. • It doesn’t have to be gourmet to be bal­anced. Try a pre-mixed salad with canned tuna and whole­grain crack­ers

FOOD SAFETY

Be aware of high-risk foods and the en­vi­ron­ment that your lunch will be stored in. An in­su­lated lunch­box and an esky with an ice brick can help keep your lunch cool. Bags of ice are avail­able at most ser­vice sta­tions if you need a top up.

For more in­for­ma­tion on healthy eat­ing, visit www.eat­forhealth.gov.au or www.di­a­betesnsw.com.au.

KATIE AL­LI­SON

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