Need Some Healthy Lunch Inspirations?

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a plate of food, school lunch box or lunch bag for hubby,  what you put inside is what counts. It is very important to regularly eat a well-balanced meal throughout the day. It maintains stable blood-sugar levels, which in turn gives us ongoing concentration and energy. Eleanor our Dietician shows us how to create a healthy well-balanced lunch, that’s easy to put together.

Before we have a look at your lunch, we need to start with your breakfast, as that’s what get’s your metabolism going. A lot of people struggle with eating breakfast soon after getting up in the mornings. It is important to eat in the first 2 hours after waking up, even if it is only when you arrive at work. It also doesn’t necessarily have to be  porridge, you could enjoy two slices of toast or even 6 Provitas.

Just remember to keep it low GI, as that is what will give you continuous concentration, energy as well as keep you feeling full for longer. Low GI stands for low glucose index, which means it’s released into your blood stream at a slower rate, keeping your blood-sugar levels even, instead of spiking between high and low.

If we look at lunch time, there are certain things that make up a well-balanced meal. If you have kids in school and they eat little bits throughout the day, make sure to give them all they need, especially if it’s a long day with activities after school as well. Keep it interesting, easy to eat and healthy.

The basic ingredients for a well-balanced lunch is:

  • 2 portions (2 fists full)                                                                                             Vegetables, Salad, Fruit (whole or chopped up)
  • 1 portion    (1 fist full)                                                                                                Low GI Carbohydrates that’s also Low in Fat (left over rice/baby potatoes/bread roll/2 slices of bread)
  • 1 portion    (1 fist full)                                                                                                Protein (low-fat cheese, milk or lean meats: chicken, tuna or peanut butter/ nuts)
  • 2 teaspoons                                                                                                                  Healthy oil (olive oil over the salad/nuts/seeds/avocado/mayonnaise)

If you are at work and needing something to munch on. Instead of going on a high GI splurge because you are hungry, be prepared and have a couple of items in your drawer for emergencies. The following items can be added in as part of the lunch box or even as snacks throughout the day.

  • Small Yoghurt (there are currently yoghurt’s on the market that don’t need to be kept cool, ideal to pop into a lunch box)
  • Fruit (whole/sliced or salad)
  • Small Custard (you get custard in small 6 pack cartons, go for a lite/low-fat one)
  • Bite Size Veggies with Dip (humus works really well as a healthy dip and it’s tasty and refreshing)
  • Microwave Popcorn (home-made in a brown paper bag that you pop into the microwave, add salt to taste)
  • Jungle Oats Bar (says low GI on it, no other cereal bars)
  • Beta Snack Biscuits (does contain some fat, but overall is a good option)
  • Muesli Snack Packs
  • Half a Bran Muffin (contains a lot of fat, so no more than that)
  • Half a Tramazini  (left overs from night before works well as lunch for the day)
  • Smoothie
  • Peanuts and Raisins
  • Lean Biltong (just a hand full)
  • Nuts and  Seeds
  • Fruit Rolls and Bars
  • Provitas and Ryevitas
  • Wraps (great way to get kids to eat salad, add some chicken and sweet chilli sauce)
  • Instant Oats
  • Low fat or No Fat Dairy
  • Tomato base for sauce instead of cream (rather sweet chilli sauce than mayonnaise)
  • WATER!!
When it comes to fluids that you need to send with to school, it can be quite tricky. A primary school child need at least 1l (4-6 glasses) of water to prevent dehydration, which will lead to broken concentration and shakiness. Cool drink does not count. When you are giving your child cool drink, make it sugar-free and dilute juice 1:1 with water.
On average a person should also not get in more than  6 teaspoons of sugar a day (especially kids).
Here’s an idea of what the sugar content is in a couple of products:
  • Coke: 8-9 tsp
  • 300ml Oros: 4-6 tsp
  • Drinking Yoghurt: 6 tsp
  • Chocolate: at least 6 tsp
  • Small pack of Jelly Sweets: 12 tsp

The following items need to be completely eliminated from your snack list. They are high GI (causing frequent hunger and low concentration) and sometimes  high in fat

  • Game, Energade, Powerade (only for athletes, not meant as a cool drink)
  • Cupcakes
  • Biscuits
  • Doughnuts
  • Rice Cakes  (low in fat, but won’t sustain)
  • Wafers
  • Waffles
  • White bread
  • Super C’s
  • Jelly Sweets
  • 2 Min Noodles
  • Fried Chips
  • Pretzels
  • Swiss Rolls
  • Cake
  • Cereal (that doesn’t say low GI)
  • Cream Crackers
  • Coke
  • Jam
  • Watermelon
  • Marshmallow
  • Pastries
  • Chips (remember, one pack of chips = 4 slices of bread with butter)
  • Fried Food

Now I know all of this sounds like quite a load to bear, but it actually is not that difficult to keep to. A little bit of good news is also that you can bring down the GI by adding a bit of healthy fat or protein (cereal with low-fat milk).

If you need a bit more clarity on what, how and when, feel free to chat to our Dietician Eleanor Schoeman. She is currently practising at 229 Cape Road, Greenacres, Port Elizabeth. Give her a call on 041 373 5514 or send an e-mail to