The basic principles Fill half your plate with vegetables and/or salad, as in the picture. The rest should consist of protein and carbs. The carbs should be whole grains rather than refined grains. These are also sometimes called complex carbohydrates. You also need good fats, such as those in olive oil, nuts and seeds, or fish.
Eating well at work or school can help you focus better, be more productive, be less likely to fall asleep at your desk, and help prevent unwanted weight gain. If there is no healthy food at your place of work, then it is a good idea to take a packed lunch. Try making food in batches to store in the refrigerator to assemble quickly in the morning in a Tupperware container. Food flasks are also useful to keep food warm.
Packed lunch ideas Brown rice or quinoa + beans (tinned or pre-cooked) + salad ingredients (e.g., carrot, cucumber, peppers, lettuce) + salad dressing (keep in a separate jar and add just before serving) Brown rice + seaweed + soy sauce + roasted veg + chicken Baked potato/sweet potato (to reheat at office) + salad + beans/chicken/tuna mayo Salad with noodles (use Asian noodles, e.g., brown rice noodles or buckwheat noodles), chicken, sesame oil, ginger and vegetables
Packed lunch ideas Whole grain sandwiches (e.g., pumpernickel or whole wheat if tolerated) with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado and chicken, tuna or good-quality cheese Casseroles and soups, re-heated and put in a food flask Home-made sushi, made using a mixture of sushi rice and brown rice, with cucumber, carrot and avocado. Smoked salmon and tuna work well, or you can make vegetarian sushi and have some nuts and seeds with it for protein.
Fussy eaters + kids When a food is eaten often enough, taste buds start to change. Salt and sugar are addictive! The less you or your children have of it, the less you will want it. Remember to eat protein and good fats regularly to help prevent sugar cravings. Eating vegetables also helps prevent cravings for other things, because it fills the body with nutrients and helps the body to feel satisfied. Try telling your child that a particular food will make him or her strong. For example, seeds will help build muscles and make the brain work well, so your children will be better at their school work and have happier moods.
Fussy eaters + kids Sometimes children need to see a food several times before they will taste it, and sometimes they need to taste it several times before they like it. For adults and children who think they dislike vegetables, try making sauces with hidden vegetables, or cook vegetables in a way that makes them taste good (e.g., broccoli cooked with olive oil, a little butter, a pinch of salt, some lemon, and a little mashed garlic). Smoothies are a good way to hide ingredients. If you crave junk food, you may find that the more healthy food you eat, the less you enjoy the taste of junk food.
Healthy bakes + desserts If you have a sweet tooth, try tweaking recipes to make them less unhealthy. For example: – Use whole grain and wheat-free flours to bake cakes and cookies – Use less sugar than the recipe calls for – often recipes use up to twice as much sugar as is needed to make the food taste sweet – Use rapadura cane sugar or honey instead of white granulated sugar – Use stevia instead of sugar – there are plenty of recipes on the internet – Use fruit or dried fruit instead of sweetener
Healthy bakes + desserts Put nuts and seeds in your cakes and cookies for extra protein Cakes made with grated carrot and zucchini are moist and delicious – there are plenty of recipes on the internet Make flapjacks using millet, quinoa, buckwheat and oat flakes instead of just oats, and use honey instead of golden syrup Serve desserts with fruit and yogurt instead of sugar and cream Use good-quality chocolate made with 70 percent cocoa, as this has health benefits
How much does good food cost? People tend to think that healthy food, especially if its organic, is expensive and not affordable by many. Is this really true – it is difficult to afford good food? The average cost of a bag of chips is around $4.00. The average cost of a bag of apples is around $4.00. Eating just one apple is surprisingly satisfying because of the nutrient content – it does not leave you wanting more. Beans and rice are inexpensive and can form the basis for many healthy meals.
How much does good food cost? A carbonated sugary drink costs far more than a glass of water from a water filter jug. Extra-virgin olive oil is more expensive than cheap cooking oils. But you can use less, and make savings elsewhere (e.g., by not buying donuts and ice cream, or tobacco products). Try farmers markets and wholesalers for organic vegetables. Try growing your own vegetables and herbs if possible – find out about communal land and vegetable-growing community schemes nearby. These involve local residents and help bring down the cost of healthy food, as well as providing the social and physical benefits of gardening with others.
Tempt your taste buds Think of healthy foods you like the taste of. You may not be in the habit of eating these regularly, but these would be easy to incorporate into your diet if you like them. Look for recipes online or in books which are healthy but which you know you will enjoy. Healthy food should not be bland and tasteless or a chore to eat.
Food tastes better when it looks good In the Hot Spots, food is arranged to look good on the plate. Plenty of colors also makes food more appetizing.
ACTIVITY: For those who find it really hard to make changes, here are some ideas for making changes slowly – do one of these each day: – Swap one of your coffees for a glass of water – Have some nuts and seeds with your mid-morning pastry or sugar fix – Eat one piece of fruit – Eat one vegetable with dinner