New Year New You

McDonald’s burger feasts, Haribo banquets and ever present fizzy drinks

New Year, New You. How many times do you hear this said?

Well, the first Nutrition and Exercise course of 2019 at Only Connect attempted to equip 5 of our Members with some of the knowledge and insight to help make better choices and positive changes to their lifestyle.

After the obligatory late start, the first of the two days was a discussion around what the attendees considered to be part of a healthy lifestyle…5 a day fruit and veg, socialising, keeping fit, good sleep and regular meals were some of the suggested put forward. So far so good.

We focused on what constitutes a balanced and varied diet and began by asking the guys to fill out a food diary for the previous day. This always proves interesting and insightful.

Aside from the expected McDonald’s burger feasts, Haribo banquets and ever present fizzy drinks, we had the other extreme from a Member who was extremely health conscious and well researched on his chosen diet. It made for some great exchanges between the guys as they shared experiences and gave each other advice; even encouragement about why reducing the amount of sugar could help mood and bad skin.

Working in practical ways to break bad habits

Talking about food groups, illustrated on the Eatwell Guide, and identifying food source is part of the course but more important is making it ‘real’ , working in practical ways to break bad habits. Gradual changes are more likely to stick such as swapping full sugar drinks for low sugar versions or trying plant proteins like chick peas to bulk up simple meat dishes.

Recognising that behaviour does not change overnight; tweaks to a full English breakfast such as grilling not frying or adding grilled tomatoes and saying no to a cheesy topping on chips can be easier changes for a take-away fan.

risky area, mental health issues and lack of finances

On the second day the conversation turns to ‘ being active’ . Sedentary behaviour for one of the attendees summed up his lifestyle, as he spent most days gamin. This was due to various factors; unsafe area, mental health issues and lack of finances. In the process of stopping substance misuse he has disassiated himself from his friendship group and is now also ‘lonely’

Thinking about their own obstacles and challenges to making a positive change to their lifestyles opens up all sorts of conversations in sorts of directions.

Interestingly, three of the guys in the group were from rival postcodes but as they settled in they were happy to engage and learn together, putting any potential issues to one side. It’s great.

a flicker of hope

Its hard to measure the impact of attending a very short course such as this but, if on the second morning one of the guys brings in a carton of fruit juice and an apple to boost his current zero ‘5 a day’ there is a flcker of hope. And when, the following week, another of the attendees talks about the pasta meal that they cooked with fresh ingredients for their younger siblings after school, then hey, that’s fantastic.

Sharon Conrad