• Ann Shorthouse

The Healthy Lunch Guide

Updated: Jun 17, 2021

Why healthy lunches matter

It’s difficult to have the brain space and time to plan varied healthy lunches, especially during our busy working weeks and even more so if you are vegan, gluten or diary-free.

When it’s apparent that a client could do with leaving out a few foods for a while, I am often asked: ‘Oh, so what do I eat then?’ Although it’s most peoples’ default setting, lunches don’t have to include sandwiches/bread all the time. This guide is for busy people who want to look and feel healthier, and those with food sensitivities.

The best thing you can do for your health is to feed your gut at least 30 different unprocessed plant-based foods a week, and only exclude a food temporarily if you know that it is necessary to allow your gut to heal (once we have re-balanced your gut, most of the time I find, the sensitivity will be rectified), for plant diversity is key. And what better time and way to have that diversity than making sure you have easy colourful lunches handy during your busy working week?

You already eat healthy foods for lunch? Yes but…

From my experience, those who are leaving out foods like gluten or diary are more likely to base their lunches around the same foods most days. Just last week a client who came because of severe bloating told me she only ate healthy unprocessed vegan foods. To her surprise, two of those foods, spinach and avocado which she was eating almost daily were flagged up as a sensitivity. All too often, we discover a food we finally like and then eat too much of it… Your gut microbiome wants to be fed the maximum amount of different plant fibres, cooked in various different ways: Diversity is key.

That’s why I have put together this guide to help and inspire you to create balanced, healthy yet filling plant-laden lunches, without being overwhelmed by recipes.

Your healthy lunch guide

Batch make on Sundays:

  • Roast vegetables or cook extra for dinner e.g. courgette, sweet potato, kale, peppers

  • Two salads e.g. Asian slaw, fruity bean (& rice) salad

  • Gluten-free grains, e.g. buckwheat, quinoa *

  • Make your own ferment once a month - click here for my fermenting guide

* If you haven’t had confirmed gluten sensitivity, I’d definitely suggest varying your grains to include e.g. cous cous, barley

Shop/have at the ready:

  • Raw salad stuff: lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, cucumber

  • Fatty acids: cold-pressed olive and/or flaxseed oil, nuts, hemp/chia/sunflower/pumpkin seeds or avocados (in moderation) *

  • Protein: hummus/bean spread (made of different beans or lentils), falafel, beans (see salads) *

  • Probiotics: home ferment/kraut, natural (vegan) yoghurt, miso-based soup

  • Other ideas: olives, sun-dried tomatoes, dates, mangos, pineapples

  • Optional: Left-overs or make extra stews, curries, stir-fries, pasta dishes

* If not vegan: a boiled egg, feta or halloumi, left-over cooked meet or salmon (in moderation)

In winter, I regularly have a home-made warming soup on the go but I find it is usually accompanied by a lot of bread (I only eat farm bought bread) unless it is a miso or broth based soup with some form of legumes or grain which you could play around with. The other thing which may be worth adding to the above but it's only relevant if working from home is baking a potato occasionally to have with all the above.

At lunch time

With a combination of these foods in the fridge/in the kitchen cupboard, I can guarantee it won't take more than 5 minutes to throw it all together. Remember to include one of each green highlighted foods and to vary which foods you choose per bullet point for it to be balanced, healthy, varied, diverse and filling.

My key recommendations

Aim to eat 30 different plant-based foods a week; remember nut and seeds count, too. If you do the above, you should have at least 8 plant-based foods on your plate, and that’s just for lunch! And for the sake of maximising food diversity, I also recommend a food sensitivity test so you have clarity which foods to avoid whilst re-balancing your gut, rather than leaving out a food 'just because' someone recommended it or you have read it's worth trying.

If you have read this and feel you need some further support, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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