You can enjoy a satisfying and nutritious meal during your lunch break, whether at the office or in other environments. However, tight schedules often lead people to prefer quick meals, such as those from a café or leftovers from home.
So, what should you eat during your lunch break? Let’s explore some common options and how to make them healthy and enjoyable with the help of a nutrition expert.
Creating a Balanced Meal
A balanced meal should include a combination of the following:
- Carbohydrates: Pasta, potatoes, rice, muesli, cereals, bread, and vegetables;
- Proteins: Animal sources (meat, fish, dairy products, eggs) or plant sources (legumes).
Piadinas and Sandwiches
When it comes to piadinas and sandwiches, preparation is key.
Here are some tips:
- Avoid sauces, as they add unnecessary calories without much nutritional value;
- Choose the right bread: Consider Tuscan bread without added salt to control hypertension, or opt for whole-wheat bread if you have diabetes;
- Include a sufficient amount of protein: Lean sliced meats, tuna or salmon, adequately cooked chicken or turkey, omelet, or hummus are all good options;
- Add vegetables: Tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, or grilled eggplant are all great choices. Avoid high-calorie preparations.
Eating a sandwich at your desk is not a good habit, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. If you have no other option than getting a sandwich from a vending machine, choosing one with ham, tuna, or cheese is better.
To make it a more balanced meal:
- Add some fruit or dark chocolate to the sandwich;
- Have at least two sandwiches to prevent excessive hunger and overeating in the afternoon.
Sushi and Sashimi
Raw fish can be a good choice for your lunch break. It’s light and low in calories. However, keep these points in mind:
- Follow the principles of a balanced and varied diet;
- If you choose sushi, plan your other meals accordingly;
- Sushi primarily consists of raw fish with a small amount of rice. Therefore, having a substantial breakfast and eating vegetable-rich dishes for dinner is advisable.
Mixed salad can be purchased at a cafeteria or quickly prepared at home. Consider the following:
- If buying it, choose options that contain a single protein source, such as tuna, eggs, or chicken/turkey;
- For homemade salads, use fresh seasonal vegetables and add nutrient-rich ingredients like soybean sprouts or watercress;
- Eat it with carbohydrates like bread, croutons, or even legumes;
- Dress the salad with extra virgin olive oil just before eating.
Lunch Break Outside
If you have the opportunity to eat at a restaurant or cafeteria, choose wisely to have a healthy and satisfying meal:
- Opt for light dishes that provide a complete meal;
- Ensure your meal includes carbohydrates (pasta, rice, other grains, potatoes, or bread), proteins (legumes, fish, meat, eggs), and fresh seasonal vegetables.