11 December 2006

Beat the bakery

Is it possible to stay healthy while at work? Yes. Are you destined to end up saggy and bloated? No.

Is it possible to stay healthy while at work? Yes. Are you destined to end up saggy and bloated? No.

In days gone by, canteen lunches consisted of soggy veggies swimming in gravy with a side order of slap chips, wolfed down while the person next to you hacked on an unfiltered Gunston. Packed lunches were bland, uninspiring sarmies. No longer.

If you’re nostalgic for this style of dining, get over it. You have the opportunity to be healthier and more slender, and to live longer. The occasional helping of fries or slab of chocolate cake won’t kill you, but make them the exception, not the rule. You’ll be more alert, successful and slender that way.

Packed lunches are cheaper than buying food at work and they needn’t be boring. In winter you can take a baked potato, pasta or noodles. Many employers now have microwave ovens at work for their employees’ use.

But whether you take your own food to work, eat at a company canteen or buy food from a sandwich trolley or shop, monitor your intake of oil and fat. Mayonnaise is a favourite ingredient in toppings, but it’s high in fat. Bear in mind too, that fat in certain forms is fine. You need to know the difference.

Fat comes in two forms - saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fat is usually solid at room temperature and usually comes from animals.

Heart disease
You’ll find it in butter, margarine, lard, cheese and full fat milk, and anything containing these ingredients – biscuits, pies, cakes, pastries and chocolate. It's also in meat. The less saturated fat in your diet the better, because it helps cause coronary heart disease. Fat has also developed a bad reputation because it’s so high in calories.

You also need to monitor your sugar intake. Refined sugar often does a saggy but sexy duet with saturated fat – think about the siren song of those sexy, seductive pastries, cakes and pies at the bakery downstairs. Reserve sweet things for the occasional treat, rather than every time you work solidly for an hour.

If sliced bread is boring, become inventive. Sample some of the healthy designer breads that are now widely available: soda, rye, ciabatta, pumpernickel, focaccia or bagels.

As a variation, fill your lunch box with salad ingredients, as well as chopped carrots, celery, cucumber and dried or fresh fruit. – William Smook


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