The importance of a lockdown lunch break

The importance of a lockdown lunch break
Photo credit: Getty Images

In the new normal that is lockdown, some of those old rules are just made to be broken.

Our work wardrobe has been swapped for track pants, F45 has been replaced with a daily light walk, and for some homeschooling attempts have gone out the window.

However working from home means some of the beneficial daily structure we had for ourselves - taking a lunch break, finishing work at five - can also go out the window.

Whether you're sitting at your dining room table, kitchen counter or home office, having 24/7 access to a kitchen means many of us are now mindlessly grazing all day - a bikkie when you go to make a cup of tea, a handful of chips when you're on the phone...

Countdown nutritionist Deb Sue says the importance of taking a proper break is paramount to both our mental and physical health.

Countdown nutritionist Deb Sue
Countdown nutritionist Deb Sue Photo credit: Countdown

The best way to start, she says, is to begin the week planning what you're going to eat for lunch each day, "just like you would if you were heading to the office".

"This will help prevent the mindless grazing," she explains.

And that doesn't mean a bag of crisps. Instead, Deb recommends adding some protein to your lunch, "whether it be meat, egg, dairy or plant-based".

"This will help keep your energy levels up and keep you feeling fuller for longer."

Some of Deb’s favourite, and easy to whip up, lunch ideas include:

  • Wraps - a great way to pack a whole lot of vegetables in a meal - tomato, lettuce, grated carrots, mushrooms, onion. (Remember to try to stick to whole grain bread if you're having a sandwich or wrap for lunch, it's a good source of fibre so again, will help give you that feeling of being full for longer.)
  • Scrambled eggs with whole-grain toast. So easy!
  • Salad - throw together some salad greens, tomatoes, feta and tuna
  • Corn fritters. They're so easy to make and you can boost it with any other veg, like grated courgette, and other veg you like.
  • Soup. With the weather getting a bit cooler, soup is always a quick and nutritious option. Just check the sodium content of the soup as some can be quite high. Or even better, make a big batch yourself at home with lots of vegetables.
  • Don't forget leftovers! I love leftovers for lunch, some things are even more flavoursome the next day.
  • Remember to drink lots of water. Fill up a drink bottle to drink over the course of a day.


Wraps like these are an ideal lockdown lunchtime meal.
Wraps like these are an ideal lockdown lunchtime meal. Photo credit: Getty Images

What not to eat?

"Try to avoid heavy, carb-rich meals - these may make you feel tired and sluggish afterwards," she advises. "That's not so great at any time, let alone when you're working from home and your bed or sofa is so close by!"

"Also try to avoid alcoholic drinks at lunchtime - even though it might seem nice to have a glass of wine or beer in the sun outside, it's not great when you need to stay focused on work. 

If you're anything like me, no meal is complete without something sweet. But Deb says lunchtime is not when you want to be raiding your stockpile of chocolate supplies.

"If you need something sweet then have fruit or yoghurt instead of a bikkie or chocolate bar as it won't cause such a sharp rise (then fall) in your blood sugar levels," she recommends.

But arguably the most important element of the lunch break, no matter what you're eating, is to step away from your desk (or makeshift working space) and take a break to really acknowledge and appreciate what you're putting in your mouth.

If you can get out into the sun and fresh air, fab! If not, even just taking the time to sit and eat with your kids, partner or flatmates can make a big difference.

"Mindfulness is really important when it comes to eating," reveals Deb.

"Usually my household is a mad rush in the morning - with daycare drop off and getting to work, and at the end of the day, my toddler eats earlier as we get home at different times.

"So we've used this lockdown period as a chance for us to eat together as a family at the dining table - no TV on in the background, and definitely no phones at the table, just talking to each other and enjoying our meal and each other's company."

So turn off Zoom for 30 minutes and enjoy eating your nutritious, protein-rich lunch in peace. You've earned it!

This article is created for Countdown.