The importance of a nutritious lunch towards maintaining a healthy weight will be promoted by the celebrity trio dual Commonwealth Games gold medal marathon runner and mother of two Kerryn McCann, Celebrity Overhaul star and best-selling author Dr John Tickell, and award-winning chef Michael Moore.
The celebrity trio will use their star power to encourage Australians to make a healthy lunch a greater priority as part of the inaugural Australian Lunch Week from 8-14 May, initiated by Sanitarium, Nutrition Australia and Fitness Australia.
Sanitarium Dietitian Cathy McDonald said the joint initiative is aimed at changing Australian lunch habits to help improve the health of the nation.
"Many people are choosing unhealthy lunch options or skipping lunch due to time and work pressures and a desire to shed excess kilos," she said.
"Skipping lunch can actually make it harder to lose weight because the body naturally wants to compensate for being starved by over-eating later in the day."
A new ACNeilsen Omnibus poll of 1400 Australians shows that while most people think that eating a substantial, healthy lunch is important, one in three skip this vital meal of the day at least once a week and one in 10 rarely or never have lunch.
Nearly half (43%) of respondents who skipped lunch said they were too busy to go out or make themselves something to eat. A further 20% said they were not hungry at lunchtime, while more than half of those who rarely ate lunch felt the midday meal did not matter as long as they had a good dinner.
More concerning is what people are actually eating for lunch. Almost two thirds (61%) eat takeaways during the week with hot chips (24%), hamburgers (19%) and meat pies (19%) top of the menu. v
"We need to make eating a healthy lunch every day a priority. A meal that is high in fibre, low in fat and provides the long-lasting energy from low GI carbohydrates helps supply the body and mind with energy to avoid a mid-afternoon slump and keep us feeling good through the day," she said.
"Eating lunch assists in ensuring we get all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients we need each day to keep healthy. Taking time out can also help improve concentration levels, enable time for building relationships and even build fitness levels if you do some exercise during your break."
Michael Moore, Group Restaurateur of Sofitel Hotels and Resorts Australia and regular celebrity chef on Channel 9's Mornings With Kerri-Anne, said there are lots of simple and delicious ways to whip up a healthy lunch at home or at work.
"It's ideal to prepare a meal using fresh, wholesome ingredients, but for those who are short on time there are also some great tasting pre-prepared options on the market that are as good as if you made them from scratch, like Sanitarium Lunch Today!," he said.
The inaugural Australian Lunch Week will include workplace presentations, a website, webcast, brochure and magazine advertising on the importance of lunch, and promotions in supermarkets, shopping centres and major events like the Sydney Royal Easter Show.