It’s lunchtime, you’re starving and you only have ten minutes to grab some food and head back to the office. That’s probably a familiar scenario for many of you, and it’s often the time when the most damage can be done. 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 in London, we’re spoiled for choice with the various food outlets that cluster around the offices, but it’s not easy to know what the best options are, and what will keep you going for longer. So here’s a speedy guide to healthy London lunching, so that you can choose what’s best for you and your waistline.
Pret a Manger
Top Picks: Pret’s ‘Hearty Soups’ are the ones to go for. Their tasty Moroccan Chicken soup or Smokey Root Veg and Bean soup is packed full of protein and fibre which will keep you going all afternoon and make it easy to ignore the treats in the office.
Best to avoid: The ‘artisan bread’ that goes with the soup – your body will burn through the energy of this refined carbihydrate really quickly and it will leave you ready for something else after about an hour, undoing the good work of the soup. A wholemeal roll is a much better investment if you want to keep going for longer.
Top Picks: Crussh Healthpots are a handy flexible option, as you can mix and match a couple for a super-healthy lunch. The Black Lentil and Feta pot and the Superfoods pot are two of the best options and would definitely boost your brainpower for that after-lunch meeting.
Best to avoid: Crussh soups tend to be pretty 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.
Top Picks: 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 Crunchy Indian Slaw with a chicken topping or the Heartbeet Complete with a falafel. It’ll keep you going for hours.
Best to avoid: watch out for the Purple Pickle and Kelp picking pot. It might be moreish and it does contain superfoods and iodine, but there’s not much else to it, so it won’t keep you going for very long.
Top Picks: EAT’s new Hot Pots are an interesting option in this cold weather. Try the Sweet Potato and Spinach Dahl or the Texan Chilli Hot Pot for a warming healthy meal
Best to avoid: their Chicken 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 also contains the equivalent of the daily recommended amount of saturated fat in just one meal.
Top Picks: Leon’s tasty rice boxes will really keep you going, especially if you’re planning to work out later on in the day. Try the Chilli Chicken or the Scottish Salmon 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 though a difficult afternoon.
Best to avoid: Watch out for the Crunch-coated Fish Finger, as it’s quite a starchy option and may lead to an energy dip mid-afternoon that could encourage you to reach for the office biscuit tin.
Top Picks: 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 and Salad Sandwich or the Falafel and Spinach wrap as they’ll keep you going for longer than the average sandwich.
Best to avoid: Their pasta salad with spinach and pine nuts. 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.
Top Picks: Itsu’s Slim Salmon sushi box is a great value option and super-healthy too, containing a good variety of protein 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 it a more balanced option than some of the more ‘luxury’ boxes.
Best to avoid: be wary of the Potsu noodles meals, as the high carbohydrate content could lead to a post-lunch slump and you don’t want to be caught napping by your boss.