How to ... Build a Better Sandwich

Lunch used to be important – the main meal of the day. But all that has changed. For many of us who work, lunch has become something to grab on the run, without worrying too much about what we actually eat. Or we skip it altogether because we’re too busy to take a midday break. There’s the tough ‘lunch is for wimps’ office mentality, which says that a lunch break wastes time and/or slows you down. But it turns out the opposite is true.

How to Build a Better Sandwich
Photo: Shutterstock

Here’s why:

  • Metabolism A balanced midday meal keeps your metabolism active and supplies you with the energy to keep going physically and mentally.
  • Blood glucose The right foods help to regulate blood glucose levels and avoid the highs and lows that create tiredness and mood swings.
  • Appetite If you don’t eat properly at lunchtime, you’re more likely to overeat in the evening – right around the time when your activity levels drop.

How much should I eat?

  • For women eating the average 8000 kJ (2000 kcal) per day, a lunch that delivers around 2000–2500 kJ (480–600 kcal) should feel about right.
  • On a weight-loss diet of 6000 kJ (1450 kcal) a day, lunch would be around 1500 kJ (360 kcal).
  • For men consuming the average daily amount of 10,000 kJ (2400 kcal), a healthy lunch would be 2500–3000 kJ (600–720 kcal).
  • Pack a lunch box

    Make your lunch at home, pack it into your reusable plastic lunch box and take it with you to work. Not only is it convenient, it gives you control over what you eat – the ingredients, the quality, the flavour and the freshness. Make it as healthy and interesting as possible.

    Sandwiches and wraps Choose a low-GI sandwich bread or, for a change, use a wholemeal wrap or lightly toasted and filled wholemeal pita. Transform a sandwich into a toasted sandwich at lunchtime if there’s a sandwich maker at work.

    Canned beans User-friendly and healthy, you simply rinse them to remove excess salt, then drain well. Mix four bean mix with finely chopped onion, chilli, garlic and tomatoes to make a salsa filling for a soft flour tortilla.

    Healthy pâté Make a pâté with vegetables – mushrooms and lentils work especially well – which you can eat with slices of grainy bread, toasted pita pieces or vegetable sticks. Make enough for a few days and keep refrigerated, ready to take to work with your sandwich.

    Building blocks for a better sandwich

    2 slices bread Wholegrain • Rye • Pumpernickel • Sourdough
    Spread Peanut butter • Hummus • Mashed avocado • Low-fat ricotta
    Lean protein Lean roast beef • Grilled skinless chicken or turkey • Sliced egg • Canned tuna, salmon or sardines • Reduced-fat cheese
    Unlimited vegetables Lettuce, tomato, cucumber & celery • Grilled vegetables • Baby spinach, rocket or watercress • Grated carrot & beetroot
    Condiments Dijon or English mustard • Low-fat mayonnaise • Pesto • Tapenade • Pickles • Squeeze of lemon juice • Horseradish
     

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