Lunchbox

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By Juliette Kellow, BSc SRD

State Registered Dietitian and Deputy Editor, Slimming Magazine

"As a photographer, I often work at unusual times of the day and tend to fit my meals around my job rather than specifically stopping to eat. Today, I missed breakfast and then had a shoot which started at midday. I ended up having my first meal of the day at a pub in the middle of the afternoon with the people I was working with."

Jacket potatoes are often considered to be a good choice if you're trying to eat healthily, but they can still be packed with fat, especially if butter and high-fat toppings are added such as cheese or something with mayonnaise. Indeed, the blue cheese and mayonnaise included in this potato topping provided most of the 41 per cent fat content in this lunch - more than the recommnended 33 per cent. At 12 per cent, the amount of calories coming from saturates was also slightly higher than recommended. To reduce the fat intake, Andreia would have been better off choosing a low-fat topping for her potato such as baked beans, cottage cheese, plain tuna or ratatouille.

The salt content is also a little high even though extra salt wasn't added. Current healthy eating guidelines recommend a maximum of 6g of salt each day and this meal alone provided almost half of this with the main culprits being the blue cheese, mayonnaise and bacon.

This meal is also quite high in sugar, with the cola and hot chocolate being the main contributors. Ordinary cola provides no nutrients except for sugar, so choosing a diet cola would be a better choice. On the other hand, hot chocolate can be a reasonable source of nutrients, especially if it is made with milk.

Her lunch provides a wide range of vitamins and minerals including calcium, zinc, copper, the B group vitamins and vitamins A and C. Intakes of fibre were also reasonable with the potato and salad making the greatest contributions. Having some fruit would add even more fibre and help Andreia to achieve the recommended five daily servings of fruit and vegetables.

Although, like Andreia, many of us have incredibly busy lifestyles, it's really important to avoid skipping meals. Missing lunch, for example, means we'll be far more likely to fill up on fatty and sugary snacks later in the afternoon when hunger starts to kick in. Because Andreia doesn't have much time to eat when she is working, she may find it better to snack throughout the day rather than trying to have two or three larger meals. Taking a selection of healthy, convenient snacks with her means she won't end up having to go for long periods without eating. She could try sandwiches or filled rolls, fresh or dried fruit, wholemeal scones, currant buns, muffins, bagels, mixed nuts and unsalted peanuts.

Andreia Barbieri, 30, is a freelance photographer. She ate a jacket potato filled with chicken, bacon and blue cheese mayonnaise plus salad, one glass of cola and one cup of hot chocolate.

Calories: 1,030

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