Food for Thought

Ben ShirleyEmployee WellnessLeave a Comment

To kick start our Employee Wellness calendar here at GHL, Ben, Vicky and myself (Rachel) had a go at Junk Free June. There were three main components to our challenge:

  1. Cut the junk. Junk food can be defined as pre-prepared or packaged food with low nutritional value. Therefore, we weren’t allowed to eat ANY of the following:
–   Pizza –   Potato chips –   Most muesli bars
–   Burgers –   Chocolate –   Donuts
–   Fries –   Ice cream –   Cake
–   Pies / savouries –   Fizzy drink –   Cookies





  1. Eat at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day
  2. Drink 2 litres of water per day

Once we figured out what we wanted to achieve, we had to find ways to help us stick to our goals for the full 30 days. We set up a wall chart where we each recorded our daily fruit and vegetable intake. The chart also had a tick-box for each day we hit the 2 litre water target. By recording and comparing our progress it added some competition to the challenge. You’re more likely to stick to a challenge if your co-workers can see how you’re tracking.

Challenges: The hard stuff

Advertising – Junk food is everywhere! Something we all noticed is the amount of junk food advertising people are exposed to everyday. TV and radio ads, billboards, Facebook posts, local dairy signs offering pie and fizzy drink deals, etc. We were constantly being reminded of the forbidden foods. Did I mention we look out our office window at the McDonalds across the road?

After hours with friends and family. It’s one thing eating clean in the office where you’re around others on the same mission. Going home to family who can still eat whatever they like, or catching up with friends and not being able to share a bowl of chips is another story! Fortunately, we found this gets easier as the month progresses and those around you get used to the new Junk-free you. By the end of the month some of our family members were eating a lot better too.

Cravings! The first few days were easy enough, the excitement of a new challenge and the workplace banter that goes along with it. But by the end of the first week Vicky and I were experiencing some cravings. We were even craving foods we hardly ever eat, just because we knew we couldn’t have them. Luckily, Ben was there for support saying things like “have a carrot stick and get your head around it” or “it’s all about trust” (accompanied by a disapproving Dad look).

Successes: The good stuff

It wasn’t all bad, by the end of the 30 days we realised we had developed some healthy habits we could keep up such as:

Increased fruit and vege intake. Once you put your mind to it, 5+ a day is a sustainable goal. It’s as simple as eating an apple with lunch, adding some extra veges to a stir-fry, or having a side salad with dinner. Check out for more tips.

Better water drinking habits. They say it takes about 30 days to form a habit. Tracking our water intake for month and making sure we reach the recommended 2 litres (8 glasses) everyday has left us all with much better water drinking habits – just in time for Dry July (oh yes we are). In the colder winter months many of us are prone to drinking more coffee throughout the day to keep warm. Try swapping the odd coffee for a herbal tea to keep your fluid intake up while still taking the chill off.

Smaller portions of the less healthy stuff. The main takeaway (excuse the pun) from Junk Free June is that we all think more before about what we’re eating. Now that June is over, when we do choose to indulge in less healthy treats we’re opting for smaller portions or slightly healthier alternatives – e.g. having fruit salad with a little bit of ice cream instead of cake and ice cream.

If you think your workplace would be interested in giving it a go, don’t wait till next June. You can go Junk Free any month! Contact us today for more tips and tricks to help you start making better choices.

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