Choosing the wrong lunch can have a direct impact on your waistline and your energy levels, laying you open to the dreaded mid-afternoon slump that usually has you reaching for biscuits or chocolate in the office. Here’s our latest guide to healthy London lunching at some of the most popular outlets, so that you can choose what’s best for you and your waistline.
Pret a Manger
Enjoy: Pret’s hearty soups are the ones to go for. Their tasty Peruvian Chicken soup or South Indian soup with lentils and tomato are packed full of protein and fibre which will keep you going all afternoon and make it easier to ignore the treats in the office. A special mention to the new Crayfish & Quinoa pot which is an ideal snack or side dish if you’re extra hungry, as it packs a powerful protein punch
Avoid: The baguette sandwiches are best avoided, as they’re very carb-heavy with minimal fibre and your body will burn through the refined white flour pretty quickly, leaving you with the munchies within an hour or two. It’s also best avoided if you’re prone to bloating, as high levels of wheat can be hard to digest, especially if you’ve had a stressful morning.
Enjoy: Crussh Healthpots are a great flexible option, as you can mix and match a couple for a super-healthy and satisfying lunch. The Black Lentil and Feta pot and the Superfoods pot are two of the best options, as they’re packed with protein, fibre and omega 3 which would definitely boost your brainpower for that post-lunch meeting.
Avoid: Crussh soups and their Fit Food Specials are surprisingly stingy on the protein, with only a couple of bits of meat in their chicken soups, for example. This means they won’t be very satisfying after a hard morning’s work and will definitely leave you wanting more.
Enjoy: Pod salads are just brilliant as they really are a proper meal, as well as being inventive and quite delicious. Not only are they packed full of protein, fibre and superfoods, but you have the option to add an extra protein topping. Try the Slow Burner Salad with a falafel topping or the Mango & Cashew Salad with chicken. It’ll keep you going for hours.
Avoid: Watch out for the Veggie Mineral Pod. It‘s not such a good option as the chicken version, as it’s much lower in protein so, despite the immune-boosting superfood content, it won’t keep you going for very long if you have a long afternoon ahead of you.
Enjoy: EAT’s Hot Pots are probably their best option for a satisfying and healthy lunch. Try the Poached Egg and Bean Hot Pot with ham hock or mushrooms or the Texan Chilli Hot Pot as these contain the best protein and fibre blend to help reduce sugar cravings later in the afternoon. They also have the added bonus of heart-healthy omega 3.
Avoid: Pie and Mash. It may seem like a satisfying option when you’re hungry, but it’s actually very high in simple carbohydrate that your body will break down quickly, leading to an energy slump in the afternoon. It’ll have a big impact on your waistline as well, as this contains half the daily recommended amount of calories, as well as your total daily allowance of saturated fat in just one meal.
Enjoy: Leon specialises in brown rice hot pots and low GI sweet potato dishes that get a big nutrition tick, as they’ll really keep you going, especially if you’re planning to work out later on in the day. Try the Chilli Chicken or the Sweet Potato Falafel box as they’re really tasty and come with brown rice that’s full of fibre, as well as containing energy-rich B vitamins and calming magnesium to help you through a difficult afternoon.
Avoid: Watch out for the Fish Finger Wrap (especially if you add fries), as it’s quite a starchy option that may provide short-term satisfaction but it’s likely to lead to an energy dip mid-afternoon that could encourage you to reach for the office biscuit tin.
Enjoy: If you just have to have sandwich at lunchtime, then M+S is definitely the place to go for good quality bread and generous, tasty fillings. For a protein and fibre-rich option, try the Roast Chicken & Salad or the Salmon, Cucumber & Watercress sandwiches as they’ll keep you going far longer than the average sandwich. The small mix and match salads deserve a special mention, as options such as the 3-bean or super wholefood salads offer a really satisfying and healthy lunch.
Avoid: Their pasta salads are not so good though, as the spinach & pine nuts or chicken versions are pretty low in protein and really won’t keep you going. In fact, it’s best to avoid pasta salads from most supermarkets, as they’re unlikely to be made with whole-wheat pasta and so it makes for a pretty starchy lunch that your body will break down quickly leaving you craving for something sweet by about 3.30pm.
Enjoy: Itsu’s Slim Salmon or the Omega 3 Salmon Supreme sushi boxes are the best sushi options, containing a good variety of protein (and omega 3) in the form of salmon, edamame beans and pumpkin and sunflower seeds. The mixed salad adds to the fibre content of the box and makes them a more balanced and satisfying option than the sushi-only boxes.
Avoid: Be wary of the Potsu noodles option, as the high carbohydrate content could lead to a post-lunch slump and you don’t want to be caught napping by your boss. If you want a hot meal, choose a rice pot instead, as this contains a blend of brown rice and 7 vegetables that will keep you going for longer.
Enjoy: Greggs have a new sandwich range which includes some crusty wholemeal bread options. The Roast Chicken Salad or the Tuna Crunch Bloomer are your best bet here if you want to keep things healthy, as this comes with fibrous wholemeal bread, lean protein and plenty of added salad. It’ll keep you going far longer than the refined white bread options.
Avoid: The pasties and bakes. They’re all high in starch and saturated fat and won’t do your waistline or your energy levels any good. They also contain almost 1/3 of the daily allowance of salt, so this is definitely one to watch if blood pressure is a concern.
Enjoy: If you opt for the turkey breast 9-grain bread Sub, then this will add a healthy dose of fibre, compared to their standard Italian white bread, which is helped by the added salad vegetables. Turkey is especially low in saturated fat, so this is definitely the one to choose, if you’re a Subway devotee. A note of caution though: even if you have the wholemeal version, this 6-inch sub is a lot of starch at one sitting, so don’t be surprised if you feel a bit heavy and lethargic later in the afternoon.
Avoid: The foot-long Chicken Teriyaki Sub with Italian white bread. This is an overdose of refined carbs with almost 100g at one sitting, which isn’t helped by the sugary teriyaki sauce. Your body will break this down into sugar pretty quickly, storing any excess sugar as fat cells and leading to an energy slump mid-afternoon. It’s definitely not the option if you want to be at your brightest and best.
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