Lunch time is the time that most people look forward to at work. It is the time that people use to catch up with their colleagues as well as to eat.

What you choose to eat a lunch sets a tone for the late afternoon productivity. Studies have shown that a meal that is high in fat, low in fibre and high in sugar can contribute to low energy levels “slump” in the afternoon around 3pm.   This is because such a meal will spike your blood sugar levels too high and quickly drop them down. These highs and dips in the blood sugar levels result in low energy levels and increased appetite as well.  However, when a “slump” hits most people choose a quick energy fix such as sweets, gums, chocolate and biscuits. These food items worsen the problem, putting you in a vicious cycle of tiredness and low energy levels.

What can one then choose for lunch?


  1. Lunch from home
  • CHOOSE a Starch { one portion is equivalent to à: 1/2 Cup corn kernels (canned /frozen) or 1/3 Cup chick peas/lentils/beans or ½ cup brown rice or fist size pap or ½ cup pasta
  • CHOOSE a Protein {one protein portion is equivalent to à :  ½ container low fat cottage cheese or 80 g Ricotta cheese or 2  eggs or 1 chicken breast or 1 fish fillet or 80g beef/lamb stew
  • CHOOSE vegetables of choice { ½ your meal must be vegetables à vegetable soup, salads or vegetables
  • CHOOSE a fat { one portion of fat is equivalent to à 1 teaspoon of oil or  2 teaspoons of seeds or  ¼ avocado or 4-5 olives or 1 Tablespoon lite mayo


Table 1: Five lunch-box ideas by Mbali Mapholi

FOOD ITEM Option 1 Option 2 Option 3 Option 4 Option 5
FRUIT 1 Fruit 1 Fruit 1 Banana 1 Fruit I Fruit
STARCH 2 slices Brown Bread filled with 2 slices Brown Bread 1 cup brown rice ½ cup chickpeas. Canned in brine – water drained 6 Provita/ 4 Fin crisps / 3 Rice cakes
PROTEIN 2 Egg, boiled and sliced 30g Cheese. Grated  of choice (matchbox size) 1 can Tuna , in brine- drained 1 chicken breast. Grilled 2/3 Tub Cottage Cheese
VEGETABLE Sliced Cucumber, Lettuce & Tomato slice (not to touch bread, will be soggy) Sliced Cucumber, baby tomatoes Boiled mixed vegetables (peas, corn & carrot) Chopped vegetables of choice – salad ingredients chopped tomato and rocket
FAT 1 Tbsp.   Lite mayo 1 Tbsp. margarine Little oil 1 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar dressing 2tsp pesto or tapenade

NOTE: Rosa tomatoes, cucumber sticks, baby carrots and gherkins can be added to a crunchy texture


  1. Lunch on the run (Take- away healthy alternatives)

Below are ideas on how you can choose better if you buying a take-away for lunch. It is also important to make healthy choices.


INDIAN– Curry (Chicken / Lentil / Bean) and HALF portion of rice


ITALIAN– Salad and HALF portion tomato pasta – not cream pasta or ½ Banting base pizza


SOMETHING FISHY / FISH AWAY ‘S– Grilled Fish, HALF portion rice and vegetables of choice (spinach, veg. stir-fry and butternut). Fish & Chips –Choose fish and get a salad.


SUSHI – Miso soup and 3 pieces Sashimi and 4 Pieces of Sushi


CHINESE – HALF portion steamed rice / noodles with beef or chicken vegetable stir fry


NANDOS:  A QUATER NANDO’S chicken (remove skin)

HALF portion of spicy rice, Coleslaw and Portuguese salad.


Vitality meal – Small portion roast chicken (removed skin) and enjoy with 1 corn on the cob and salad


  1. Lunch on site (Lunch from Canteen)

When getting lunch from the work canteen, always try to make healthy options.  Sandwiches tend to be high in fat and low in fibre. Ask for a sandwich on Low GI/ rye bread and 1 type of protein not a combination


Meals: Choose lean protein (Chicken with no skin, fish or lean red meat), choose small portion of rice, and pile up on vegetables.


Always try to choose meals from a healthy meals bar. Try to avoid fried chips as these are high in carbohydrate and low in fibre.


The key is to control portions and everything in your plate must looks like it came straight from the field to your plate.


Till next time…

Yours in Health,

Mbali Mapholi

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