Lighter lunch options

Caroline Cassidy

Busy modern lives mean more and more of us are eating either at our desks or grabbing something quick before heading back to work. But if you're trying to lose weight, those fast food fixes are probably holding you back.

lighter lunches
lighter lunches

Pic: Getty

Make some simple swaps and you can enjoy a lighter lunch that provides all the goodness without the calories.

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Sandwich swap
The classic British grab 'n' go lunch isn't always the healthiest, especially with high street stores stocking ever more exciting flavour combinations. You don't have to compromise on taste to cut back on the calories though. For an easy, healthier lunch, switch your white bread for whole grain to get a good fibre boost, or opt for pitta over a baguette, which could save you a whopping 300 calories.

When it comes to fillings, those tempting deli meats and cheeses are a fast way to gain pounds. Just one slice of pastrami, for example, packs a 45 calorie punch, while a slice of turkey breast will give you all the benefits of lean protein with just 22.5 calories. Cheese is another calorie-packed choice, with 51g of Cheddar totalling 200 calories, so try a fat-free cottage cheese alternative and you can enjoy a full 100g for just 67 calories.

Simple salads
It's easy to assume that all salads are healthy, but there could be hidden calories lurking beneath the lettuce leaves. Just one tablespoon of the average vinaigrette amounts of around 50 calories, while two tablespoons of full-fat mayonnaise adds a hearty 200 calories to your healthy choice. Try plain yoghurt instead of mayo, or spice up your salad with some chilli rather than adding vinaigrette and you'll boost your metabolism rather than your waistline.

And don't assume a salad won't fill you up. Feel free to add lean protein like turkey or chicken breast, or include beans to keep you satisfied. Hard boiled eggs, an excellent source of iron and protein, are also super nutritious and boast just 81 calories.

Snack safe
Many of us just don't feel we've had a proper office lunch unless we've grabbed a bag of crisps to go with our sandwich. There are, of course, plenty of low-fat varieties on the shelves these days, but why not go for something more satisfying and with fewer calories? Add a few raw veggie sticks - celery, carrot, broccoli or pepper - as a snack and you'll have avoided the 184 calories found in the average pack of Walker's. That means you can afford to indulge in a little hummus or low-fat dip as a treat.

Smart sweets
There's nothing wrong with a sweet treat every now and again, but it's worth bearing in mind that just one bar of Dairy Milk will add 255 calories to your daily intake. Swap your sugar rush for slow release energy in the form of a banana, and you'll be consuming just 81 calories.

And if fruit just won't cut it on the sweetness front, even a 100g portion of chocolate frozen yoghurt, at 127 calories, will considerably cut back on your calorie consumption.

Danger drinks
While we're busy worrying about saturated fats and too much salt, it can be all too easy to forget the calories we're quaffing in the form of a drink. The average of can of Coke will see you glugging 140 calories, and even a seemingly innocent orange juice contains 112.
Water is undoubtedly the best drink to choose if you're looking to lighten up, but if you're after something with a little more taste, forget about those pricey shop-bought flavoured bottles, and simply make your own. By adding a few slices or chunks of fresh fruit to some sparkling mineral water and leaving it to steep in the fridge for a few hours, you've got a readymade, healthy drink that you can decant as and when you please - and you get to choose the flavour.

Have you found any simple lunch swaps that have helped you to lose weight? Leave your comments below...