Colin contacted me recently as he was having trouble packing a grain free lunch for work.
I used to find lunches difficult too
Colin had been diagnosed with leaky gut syndrome (see my post on leaky gut here) and knew that grain based foods were not agreeing with him however sandwiches are convenient in the middle of the day and the alternatives he had explored did not work for him.
Colin was toying with the idea of salads but was unsure of the best way to organise this to avoid being stuck in a boring rut.
Salads don’t have to be boring
When I first started preparing grain free lunches, it was salads all the way. A colleague once commented on how much I liked my salads. It was hard to agree because I was eating the same thing every day.
You don’t have to be stuck with boring salads though and this is how I keep lunches interesting.
Salads are still my go to lunch of choice but with a little planning you can prepare interesting and different salads everyday.
I start with lettuce and tear a few leaves into the bottom of the container before adding chopped other vegetables. In this case; pepper, cucumber and tomato. You have a very wide choice though: consider, spring onions, olives, grated carrot and beet root, radishes, fennel, herbs and anything else you find in the salad drawer. Sauerkraut is recommended as being very good for you as are other fermented, pickled vegetables. Once your basic salad is constructed, drizzle with a little dressing – olive oil and balsamic vinegar is a good choice – and top with protein of your choice.
The protein can be different everyday. Ham, tuna, chicken, mackerel, herrings, beef, egg are just some examples.
Alternatives to salad
One easy alternative is to cook a bit extra for your evening meal and to set it aside to take to work later in the week. I store lunches like this in takeaway containers in the freezer and call them “ready meals”.
Having a meal which requires a knife and fork is not always the best thing. My 15 year old son patiently explained that when he is playing football at lunch time, cutlery and a napkin single him out as different. Please could he have finger-food.
Chicken drumsticks, ham sandwiches with cucumber slices instead of bread, flapjacks, grain free cakes, muffins and biscuits, fruit or vegetable pieces, nuts are just some of the ideas you could try. Here is a picture of the food my children get in their lunch boxes. The muffin type thing which has been cut in half is chopped, sautéed vegetables and bacon placed in a muffin case and beaten egg poured over. I make a batch of these at the weekends. Also shown are grapes, granola bar and courgette surprise brownie.
If you can find a Bento type box with different compartments this helps to keep things separate and encourages you to pack a variety of foods.
Colin, I hope that this has given you some ideas. Leaky gut can be overcome. There is lots of help available from Steve and Jordan on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet Lifestyle website here. In the meantime, while you may not get a free lunch, a grain free lunch is perfectly doable.