Forget morning routines, it’s time to optimise how you spend your lunch break to recharge your energy.

You’ve got your morning routine of an early walk and a high protein breakfast nailed, and your pre-bed ritual of dim lights and a juicy novel is now second nature. 

But despite these schedules being in place to help you sleep better and feel more energised, most of us still experience an afternoon crash. The reason for that might be because we’re rushing through our lunch breaks. 

Perhaps you were someone who took to strict lunchtime walks during the pandemic which have since fallen by the wayside now we’re hybrid working. Or maybe you haven’t taken a break for years, choosing to spend five minutes throwing together a salad (or running to the nearest sandwich shop) and getting straight back to work. 

Either way, we know that taking a break is crucial. It doesn’t have to be an hour, it doesn’t have to be spent cooking and it doesn’t have to be luxurious. But how you spend your time away from your screen is important. So we asked four women to share how they spend their lunch break for optimum feel-good energy. 

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“We prioritise plant-based meals”

Lisa and Alana Macfarlane, founders of The Gut Stuff 

When we are in the office, the whole team breaks for an hour to get away from our desks and screens.

We usually start by taking a 1o- to 20-minute walk, which is of course weather dependant, along the canal in Camden because our microbes love it when we move. Independent of anything you do with your diet, exercise or movement is one way of influencing the microbes that live within your gut for the better. Even 10 minutes of brisk walking to get your heart rate up is going to support your gut health.

We then sit down to eat and chat together. The one thing that does change in our routine is what we eat each day, we like to mix it up to ensure we’re hitting 30 different varieties of plant foods a week (these include veggies, fruit, whole grains, pulses, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices) to keep our gut bugs happy. 

Whether we’re grabbing something on the go or making up a lunchbox the night before, you’ll always find a wholegrain, a range of veggies, a sprinkle of nuts or seeds and most likely kimchi on the side (we keep a couple of jars in the office fridge).

This month we’ve also been tallying up the amount of fibre in each of our meals (nothing like a bit of friendly competition among the team) as part of our fibre challenge where we’re challenging our community and ourselves to hit our recommended 30g of fibre every day.

“I keep my mind stimulated”

How Dr Folusha Oluwajana looks after her mind during lunch

GP and TV doctor Dr Folusha Oluwajana

I don’t have a fixed lunch break when I’m in the GP surgery, but I try to take some respite between patient clinics where I’m not consulting. How busy I am will determine how much time I have to myself, but more often than not I have my lunch at my desk, which isn’t ideal, but I’d rather eat there and take time out of clinic for a walk.

Long days can be quite sedentary and also quite isolating because all your time is spent alone in your consulting room. Even if I just take 15 minutes to walk up and down the road, I’ll do that. If I have longer, I’ll try to go to the park near my practice or incorporate errands to get some movement in. 

But the most important thing I do is have conversations with other people. I’ll try and drag my colleagues out with me and talk to people on the phone or in the shop because the mental stimulation is really important to keep me focused and less lonely when I’m in consultations all day.

“I keep my body moving”

Anisha Joshi spends her lunch break by fuelling her movement

Anisha Joshi, osteopath and founder of OsteoAllies

I always take an hour for lunch. I’m not going to lie, some of this time is taken up with writing up patient notes or writing doctor referrals, but I will always try and leave my clinic and go for a walk, even if it’s for five minutes. 

I believe lack of movement is one of the main reasons why my patients experience pain and if I’m telling them to move more then it’s important I practice what I preach. It’s also nice to clear my head and get away from screens for a little while.

I work out in the mornings so I fuel my muscles by trying to eat protein at lunchtime. This is usually a homemade chicken salad with some new potatoes, pasta or a wrap. 

A few years ago, I made the mistake of cutting out carbs completely and, for me, it didn’t work. It meant I was under-fuelled and my menstrual cycle stopped completely. It’s not very healthy, so now I ensure I eat some carbs at every meal and it’s helped my energy levels so much, both in the gym and while running three clinics. 

If I was giving people advice on how to best use their lunch break, I’d say to move as much as you can and to eat a well-balanced energy-fuelling lunch. This will help to stop the afternoon slump from kicking in, trust me. 

Images: Getty/Folusha Oluwajana/Anisha Joshi 

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