If you’re caught out without your usual pre-prepared lunch, that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to oily or sugary takeaway.
Here are a few options on the more wholesome side for those chaotic days when you’ve left home in a hurry – so don’t throw your healthy diet out the window just yet!
When compared to the swathes of fried and sugar-laden meals usually found in food courts – from deep fried chicken to battered fish – some sushi rolls make for a healthier, low-sugar option. Those with cucumber, avocado and tofu offer nutritional benefits, though we’d steer clear of any fried or teriyaki meats to keep that sugar content down. Take a look at the breakdown of a simple avocado sushi roll:
Avocado: Healthy fats are plentiful in avocados, notably oleic acid. Studies show this acid protects against insulin resistance and reduces the risk for heart disease. These fats will keep you fuller for longer, reduce cholesterol and help with those sugar cravings. Plus, avos are a source of riboflavin, magnesium, potassium and vitamin K.
Rice: While white rice spikes blood sugar, it’s not the worst choice on the market, especially in moderation. If there’s brown rice on offer, this will be a better option for slower-release energy and stable blood sugars.
Seaweed: Packed with vitamin A, C and E, seaweed is an antioxidant powerhouse that can advance the nutritional profile of your meal. It also has up to 75% of its weight dedicated to fibre – the key to a healthy gut. Together with healthy fats from avocado and carbs from rice, it’s not a bad balance in comparison to fried chips and burgers.
Sandwich bars are the saving grace for those days when you’ve left your lunch on the counter at home. You can mix and match with the ingredients you prefer, giving you a lot of control over the sugar that ends up in your meal. Here are a few tips for getting a nutritionally balanced takeaway sandwich:
- Choose healthier cheeses like Swiss or Gouda.
- Load up on salad options like cucumber, tomato and avocado.
- Opt for wholegrain bread.
- Steer clear of anything fried, including schnitzel.
- Avoid sugary sauces like tomato or mustard.
Rice paper rolls (fresh).
This classic Vietnamese snack is a far healthier alternative to some of the other fried, salty favourites. The rice paper itself tends to be made of minimal ingredients such as rice or tapioca flour, salt and water, making it a better carb option than the fast-food competitors which slip sugar into their bread.
Depending on the store, you’ll also get a say in what’s inside the rolls – as always, we suggest avoiding the extra sauces as these are the biggest culprits when it comes to excess hidden sugar, fat and salt. Fresh salad ingredients like cucumber, carrot and avocado are all great options, and when choosing your proteins, just be sure to check if they come in sugary sauces.
When you’re picking up takeaway, it can be tempting to throw a bottle of soft drink onto the counter when it comes time to pay – it doesn’t help that the fridge is usually right by the door. But studies show that drinking added sugars is even worse than eating them, partly due to the fact that liquid serves are much larger than solid serves – giving you a far heftier sugar dose. So, to avoid a sugar crash, opt for water or sugar-free drinks like tea or coffee.
We hope these ideas have given you some inspiration to help you navigate the fast-food world on those hectic days where you forget your lunch. If you’re trying to cut out sugary foods and eat as healthily as possible, it can be a near insurmountable feat to dodge sugar, which somehow makes its way into all manner of processed foods. That’s where we come in.
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