Nutrition Tips with Sarah Keogh - Eating Out at Work

Thursday, 5 April 2018

When you’re organised and can bring a packed lunch, then balancing nutrition can be easy. But what if you eat out when you are at work? Whether it is a meal in a restaurant or a takeaway sandwich, getting the nutritional balance right is important.

Do you need three courses?
The temptation with a work lunch is to really go for it and have starter, main, course and dessert. That’s fine if it is once a month or less. However, if this is a regular event, then you may need to rethink. Unless you are in a very physical job or seriously training, three courses is going to be too much food. If you find yourself forcing in the last few mouthfuls, chances are you’ve overdone it.

Get those veg
When we eat out at lunchtime – whether it is a restaurant meal or a takeaway sandwich, they can be carb-heavy and veg-light. Carbs – especially whole grains – can happily make up one quarter of your meal but vegetables need to be the real star of the show:
  • Add salad to sandwiches and rolls. And not just one lonely slice of tomato…try lettuce, onions, sweet corn, cucumber and peppers.
  • Add a soup or a side salad to boost your vegetable intake.
  • If you are having a work lunch then aim to have vegetables or salads as a starter or on the side.

Pick your protein
Although men in Ireland tend to eat more protein than they need (yes, really!), many women miss protein at lunchtime. If you are normally a soup-and-bread person then, chances are, you are not getting all the protein you need. Choose soups with beans or lentils for protein or add a tin of tuna or a few slices of chicken or cheese to your bread.

Carb charge
There is no need to add carbs at every meal but wholegrain carbs are a great source of B vitamins, iron and fibre. However, many people eat servings of carbs that are way too big. Did you know that the standard roll you have for lunch is equivalent to 4 slices of bread? That a wrap counts as two slices? You can happily choose carbs but bear in mind that they should only make up one quarter of your meal. Choose a smaller roll or a smaller serving of rice or pasta and go for wholegrain as often as you can.

Sarah Keogh
Consultant Dietitian at