Reader’s Question: Lunchtime Ideas and Exercise

Recently I had a great question from one of my readers about healthy lunch ideas, and exercises suitable for knee pain. So, I thought I’d tackle both questions together, and share this information with everyone.

We know that the key to successful weight loss is to reduce calorie intake by around 300-500kcals each day, and increase physical activity levels above what you currently do. However, it can be difficult to translate healthy eating information into practical eating habits.

So, what are healthy lunchtime options?

Try to include a variety of foods from the four main food groups:

  • One-two portions of vegetables, or salad, and one portion of fruit.
  • One portion of a milk, cheese, or yoghurt.
  • One portion of lean meat, chicken, fish, or one egg.
  • One portion of a starchy food, such as wholegrain bread, wholemeal pasta, rice or potato.

Also, opt for foods that don’t contain too much fat, sugar or salt, and look out for those that provide you with more calcium, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Reading food labels will help you choose healthy foods. Opt for foods containing:

  • Fat content up to 3 grams per 100 grams.
  • Sugar content up to 2 grams per 100 grams.
  • Sodium up to 0.1 grams per 100 grams.

Here are a few examples:

Day 1

  • Wholemeal tortilla wrap with grilled chicken, lettuce and red pepper slices (with small amount of reduced calorie mayonnaise).
  • Cherry tomatoes.
  • Banana.
  • Reduced fat fromage frais.
  • Water/tea/coffee.

Day 2

  • Rice, bean and ham salad (boiled rice, kidney beans, green beans and chopped ham) with a little olive oil and lemon juice.
  • Celery and cucumber sticks.
  • Peach or nectarine.
  • Diet yoghurt.
  • Water/tea/coffee.

Day 3

  • Wholemeal pita with sliced chicken, reduced fat Edam cheese and mixed pepper slices.
  • Small bowl of salad.
  • Small handful of mixed nuts.
  • Small tub of fruit cocktail in natural juices.
  • Water/tea/coffee.

Day 4

  • Bowl of homemade vegetable soup.
  • Wholegrain roll, with lettuce, tomatoes, and sliced egg.
  • An apple, or orange.
  • Diet yoghurt.
  • Water/tea/coffee.

Day 5

  • Mackerel and rice with a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Small serve of mixed vegetables.
  • 1 slice of reduced fat cheese.
  • Handful of dried fruit.
  • Water/tea/coffee.

Day 6

  • 1 medium baked potato, with 2 tablespoons of sour cream, and 2 tablespoons salsa.
  • Tossed salad, and 1 tablespoon mixed bean salad.
  • 1 reduced fat fromage frais.
  • 2 small plums, or kiwis.
  • Water/tea/coffee.

Day 7

  • Tuna and wholemeal pasta salad.
  • Tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and sliced pepper salad.
  • 1 small yoghurt.
  • Small handful of mixed nuts and dried fruit.
  • Water/tea/coffee.

Suitable exercises

Remember to consult your doctor if you are starting a new regimen. Most exercise should be commenced slowly, and gradually increased to an appropriate level.

Activities suitable for painful knees:

  • Swimming (except for the butterfly stroke).
  • Walking – probably the best overall exercise; distances should be gradually increased.
  • Bicycling in a low gear. (Be sure that the seat is relatively high; your knee should not bend to more than a right angle during the bicycle stroke).
  • An elliptical machine in the gym is also a good option. (The pedals allow you to simulate running and walking without the impact on your joints.)
  • Any activity where there is a reduced impact, or no quick directional changes will be a good choice for painful knees.
  • Avoid exercises or activities that stimulate deep knee bends, as they place too much stress on the knee.

Exercises that may prevent knee problems include:

  • Strengthening the core muscles of your back, abdomen and hips, as well as your quadriceps and hamstrings.
  • Light leg presses.
  • Hamstring curls.
  • Leg extensions.

What other suggestions do you have? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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About Melanie
Melanie is a Registered Dietitian who started Dietriffic in March 2007. Her aim is to make good health attainable and sustainable, without guilt and torture, making her approach popular with those who desire a level-headed approach to good health. Have you got your copy of her free book yet?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Flat Stomach February 19, 2008 at 2:53 am

Thats some great healthy food choice and exercise advice.


Melanie February 21, 2008 at 3:51 pm

Hey Martha,

Thanks for your comments. Great tips on your own site too, particularly about the impossibility of stop toning to achieve a flat stomach, something many people don’t know.


Flat Stomach June 12, 2008 at 11:17 pm

These are some good tipps


How to Lose Belly Fat August 27, 2008 at 2:00 am

Just what i was lookng for, awesome ideas


Melanie August 27, 2008 at 3:22 pm


Glad it was useful!


how to get rid of belly fat December 19, 2009 at 10:28 pm

“Walking – probably the best overall exercise” I agree 100%.
.-= how to get rid of belly fat´s last blog ..Getting Rid Of Belly Fat: Beer Belly or Stress Belly =-.


Training Abs January 12, 2010 at 1:47 am

There’s nothing like a grilled chicken wrap for lunch or a hearty homemade minestrone soup with wholegrain bread for dipping! Regarding the knee issues the elliptical machine is definitely great and swimming is a great low impact conditioning exercise that can actually help to speed up recovery time.
.-= Training Abs´s last blog ..Abdominal Fitness Nutrition: A Fat Burning Trans Fat! =-.


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