Ever notice yourself getting snappy and sluggish as the day wears on? You may be familiar with the 3 o’clock slump known to strike like clockwork – but what we put on our plates can make all the difference. While brekkie may be the most important meal of the day, it’s imperative not to underestimate the blood-sugar balancing role of lunch! Here’s what it can do for you, plus 3 free recipes to get you through.
When it comes to maintaining a stable mood throughout the day, your diet plays a significant role. What you eat can influence your energy levels and emotional well-being. To help you stay balanced and feel your best, we've put together three easy and healthy mood-stabilising lunch ideas that are not only delicious but also packed with nutrients to keep your spirits high.
Lunch is often regarded as the midday refuelling pit stop, a chance to satisfy your hunger and regain the energy needed to power through the rest of your day. However, its importance extends beyond just satisfying your stomach. A well-balanced lunch can play a pivotal role in stabilising your mood, enhancing your cognitive function, and ensuring that you remain active and productive throughout the day. Here's why lunch is so crucial for maintaining your overall wellbeing:
Balanced Nutrients, Balanced Mood: Consuming a balanced lunch with a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats helps keep your blood sugar levels steady. When blood sugar levels drop too low, it can lead to irritability, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating. A nutrient-rich lunch can help prevent these mood disturbances, promoting a happier and more emotionally stable afternoon.
Recharge Your Batteries: After a busy morning, your body's energy reserves may be depleted. A nourishing lunch replenishes your energy stores, allowing you to approach the afternoon with vigour. A lack of lunch can leave you feeling sluggish and fatigued, making tasks more difficult and potentially causing irritability.
Mind Your Lunch, Mind Your Work: Lunch can influence cognitive function and productivity. When you eat a nutritious midday meal, you provide your brain with essential nutrients. Omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like salmon can enhance memory and cognitive abilities. Antioxidant-rich foods like berries can protect brain cells from oxidative damage. By enjoying a well-rounded lunch, you are investing in your brainpower.
Keep Your Blood Pressure in Check: A well-planned lunch can contribute to maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Foods high in potassium, like leafy greens and sweet potatoes, help counteract the effects of sodium and can help keep your blood pressure within a healthy range. Regularly monitoring your sodium intake and choosing foods wisely at lunch can contribute to long-term heart health.
Gut Health Matters: Eating lunch promotes regularity in your digestive system. A balanced meal with dietary fibre from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains helps prevent constipation and keeps your digestive system functioning optimally. A well-functioning digestive system contributes to overall wellbeing.
Skip the vending machine or your local fast-food shop for lunch and prepare these delicious lunches instead!
Quinoa and Chickpea Salad
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup cooked beetroot, diced
- 50 g feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup kale, washed and torn
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, chickpeas, feta, beetroot, kale, cucumber, red onion, and fresh parsley.
- Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice over the salad.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Toss everything together until well mixed.
- Enjoy this protein-packed salad that provides sustained energy and essential nutrients, which can help stabilise your mood.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Bowl
- 2 cups roasted sweet potatoes, cubed
- 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup steamed broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup parsley
- 1/4 cup sliced red cabbage
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Arrange roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, steamed broccoli, parsley, and red cabbage in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix plain Greek yogurt, tahini, cumin, salt, and pepper to create a flavourful dressing.
- Drizzle the dressing over the ingredients in the bowl.
- Toss gently to coat everything evenly.
- This hearty, fibre-rich bowl is packed with vitamins and minerals to keep your mood stable and your taste buds happy.
Salmon and Avocado Wrap
- 2 whole-grain tortillas
- 2 grilled or baked salmon fillets, flaked
- 1 ripe avocado, sliced
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- Juice of 1 lime
- Fresh dill for garnish
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Lay out the whole-grain tortillas.
- Divide the salmon, avocado, baby spinach, and red onion evenly between the two tortillas.
- In a small bowl, combine Greek yogurt, lime juice, salt, and pepper to make a zesty dressing.
- Drizzle the dressing over the ingredients on each tortilla.
- Garnish with fresh dill.
- Roll up the wraps and cut them in half for a satisfying and mood-boosting lunch.
- These three lunch ideas are not only easy to prepare but also provide essential nutrients, such as complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, lean protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. By incorporating these balanced meals into your day, you can help regulate your mood, maintain steady energy levels, and enjoy the benefits of a healthier, happier you.
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