You’re a busy professional in Victoria, and you’ve been invited to a bar food restaurant in Melbourne for a Friday working lunch with colleagues, including your boss. It all sounds like great fun, and the idea is to have a relaxed time, but you have one problem. Before you finish for the weekend, you still have a mountain of work to get through, and you’re worried that a big, leisurely lunch will make you sleepy and unproductive in the afternoon.
It’s a problem that many face, in fact, but also a problem with some quite straightforward solutions, too. The key is knowing what you can eat and enjoy without fear of being put to sleep later back at the office. Here are some ideas on what to eat (and not to eat) to get you started:
Salads are the natural choice when you want to eat and not get uncomfortably full. The one danger with salads, however, is that you fall into the trap of bulking them up too much with added meat, or sometimes an excess of an added grain such as quinoa. Therefore, keep salads fresh and light, including going easy on the dressing by steering clear of overly creamy or heavy varieties like French or Caesar sauces.
A garden salad with a small amount of added chicken or beans for protein can be the perfect balance, leaving you satisfied and energised without feeling full or sleepy. There will be plenty of time for a splurge later in the evening when your work is done.
A fresh bowl of soup can be just what the doctor ordered when you’re trying to steer clear of feeling stuffed. If a restaurant’s portions are fairly small, you could always gain a bit more satisfaction by combining a soup option with a salad like that which we described above. Heavier, creamier soups that are offered with sandwich options are ones you might want to avoid.
For instance, a North American favourite is hearty and rich tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich. It truly warms the soul, but in a hot country like Australia, something with more of an Asian vibe would be more suitable. Sour and spicy Chinese soup, or a Korean-style buckwheat noodle soup, are both lighter to consume, but equally toothsome and satisfying.
- AVOID – Refined Carbohydrates
The ultimate thing you should avoid when on a mission for a light working lunch is refined carbohydrates like those you might find in pizza dough, for instance. You’ll also get them from white bread, white rice, pastries, heavy pasta dishes, and anything that’s processed. You don’t usually have to worry about processed food in a good restaurant, but the other things we mentioned are common staples, so watch out!
- High-Protein Items
Rather than carb-heavy items, go instead for protein. Earlier, we mentioned for example that adding a little chicken, or perhaps some beans, lentils or chickpeas to a salad can do wonders for its protein content. Adding protein makes meals more satisfying to consume, but without making them overly filling. If you’re not sure what options will deliver you a good protein boost, then ask the wait staff for a recommendation.
- AVOID – Fatty, Sugary Foods
Overly fatty, sugary food has the effect of perhaps giving you an initial burst of pleasure and even some energy as you enjoy it, but will quickly set you to “crash” mode when you get back to the office and sit in your office chair, once again unable to concentrate on your work.
- For Drinks: Stick with Water
Finally, all your good work choosing healthy working lunch food will be undone if you let refined sugar enter you via the wrong drink choice. When in doubt, stick with water. Feel free to jazz it up a little by getting some sparkling water with ice and lemon.