Have you ever wondered what health professionals eat for lunch? We take a sneak peek into the lunch boxes of several nutritionists and ask them for some tips on how you can adapt yours for a healthier and more nutritious on-the-go meal.

Maintaining a healthy eating habit can be hard enough when you have full access to your kitchen, but it can be even trickier when you're out and about at work, school or running errands.

Claire Turnbull, Healthy Food Guide nutritionist

Pack it with protein

As a working mum, Claire is always busy so eating a nutritious lunch is important to keep her going.

Her typical lunch consists of a base of two handfuls of salad vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, alfalfa sprouts and capsicum. She adds to this either shredded free range chicken, a handful of chickpeas and a tablespoon of almonds, or alternatively a small can of tuna, a boiled egg and a tablespoon of seeds.

Janey Carr, Nutritionist at MyNutritionist

Gluten-free

Janey is highly sensitive to gluten, which means that making her own lunch is often her only option if she is out and about. Her quick meal option typically includes roast chicken or tinned mackerel, baby spinach, cooked brown rice, extra virgin olive oil, and fried garlic and cracked pepper to taste.

For her shorter-on-time option, she would include items such as a piece of fruit, a pot of yoghurt, a cold chicken leg, some cherry tomatoes and avocado to slice at work along with some rinsed chickpeas.

Chantal Dey, Qualified whole food nutritionist

Raw food

Chantal always has fresh vegetables made into a salad; usually leftover salad from the previous night’s dinner topped with nuts and free range chicken.

Alternatively, she shreds up a bunch of raw vegetables in the food processor to create a slaw with beetroot, red and green cabbage, zucchini and onion tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and toasted seeds. 

Dawn Whitford, Qualified clinical nutritionist

Vegetarian options

Dawn is a vegetarian and her easy lunchtime favourite is the classic Rainbow Quinoa Salad. She likes to start with a base of cooked quinoa, adding a variety of fresh green leafy vegetables, a serving of roast vegetables, a serving of protein (such as cubed tofu or you could add lean meat), and a can of pulses such as lentils, mixed beans or chickpeas.

She also adds 'good' fats like avocado or pumpkin seeds, along with a drizzle of flaxseed oil and fresh herbs for flavour.

Tips for packing your own lunch

  • Janey says to ensure your lunch is balanced and nutrient-dense, include a palm-sized portion of protein (such as tuna, chicken, tofu or eggs), a good handful of vegetables, some carbohydrates (such as lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, or wholegrain crackers) and a small amount of healthy fat (such as avocado, nuts or seeds). This can either be in meal form, or a series of small items.
  • Claire says vegetables are key; she always make sure she has two handfuls of veggies at lunch to fill her up and get the dose of fibre and other goodness her body needs.
  • Dawn suggests to think ahead; make at least one or more extra servings during your dinner meal preparations if you need to make lunch for you, your spouse or children the next day as well.
  • For easy healthy snack options, Chantal recommends mixed nuts, fresh fruit, vegetable sticks and peanut butter. She also likes to include a couple of espresso power balls. These can be blitzed in a food processor and shaped into round, bite-sized pieces using nuts, maca or cacao, spices, and espresso (an optional ingredient for a grown ups' lunch box!).
  • Wick Nixon from Wicked Wellbeing runs an online lunch box makeover programme, and her creative ideas for childrens' lunch boxes can also be applied to your own lunch. She suggests to take a couple of hours out in the weekend to make some homemade goodies that can be frozen, so during the week you’re organised. For example, pizza pinwheels, bacon and egg bakes, bliss balls, blueberry muffins or energy bites.

NZ Real Health is an online magazine where you can find practical information and advice on health, wellbeing and fitness. For more articles like this, visit www.nzrealhealth.co.nz.