Why I cheated Junk-free June

I decided to do junk free June last year because I wanted to clean up my diet and eat healthier; my main motivation was to lose weight and kick start a healthy lifestyle. I decided to do it this year because I felt I needed the challenge of eating ridiculously clean, but somehow forgot how hard it was last year (kudos to everyone who actually went 30 days without eating junk).

Three days into junk free June, I was visiting my mum for dinner and told her that I wouldn’t eat what she made, because it wasn’t junk free. Cue a lecture about how I didn’t need to lose weight etc. etc. I didn’t embark on JFJ because I wanted to lose weight (well, 2 kg would be nice…), but because I wanted to eat healthier and cut out the 3pm brownie cravings.

Mum’s lecture got me thinking about my relationship with food. Ever since I moved out of home, I’ve been incredibly health conscious, I guess because I thought it was the right thing to do. I’m already gluten free (not a choice), so I don’t really eat pizza and all the delicious carby things anyway, but for a good 6 months, I refused to eat potatoes and still refuse to eat white rice.

I’m not overweight, I’m not unhealthy, but, for some reason, I am paranoid about what food I eat. I can’t eat a brownie without feeling incredibly guilty and even feel bad ordering a mochaccino instead of a flat white. It took mum’s lecture to make me realise that my relationship with food was actually really unhealthy. No one, especially no one my age, should feel guilty about eating bad food every so often.

Junk free June was great in theory, but it made me feel terrible about wanting to eat pasta for dinner or a macaroon with my coffee. I decided it was time to rethink my relationship with food. I’m a big advocate of the 80:20 principle – if you eat healthy 80% of the time, it’s okay to pig out 20% of the time (within reason). So, that’s what I started to do and this is when my indiscretions on the diet of junk free June started to become (slightly) more frequent. Half a brownie one week and a macaroon the next, was technically breaking the rules, but an important learning curve in my realisation that I don’t have to give up the food I love all the time.

There are too many articles, podcasts and blogs out there that all give conflicting information about what you should eat, what junk food is and what it means to ‘be healthy’. I got 5 minutes into a podcast about how bad grains are when I turned it off – I need my morning oats! I guess the moral of this blog post is that you need to do what’s best for you and eating healthy and clean doesn’t have to mean giving up Sunday morning pancakes with your family.

Yes, I cheated on junk free June, but, no I don’t feel bad about it. I’m learning to balance the healthy and the sugary delicious foods and define what healthy means for me. If you take anything from this blog post, it’s that radical programs don’t really work and you’ve probably heard this a million times, but repetition is key – so, do what’s best for you. And if you’re brave enough to do JFJ, build in some flexibility. One macaroon won’t kill you.

#sejtips Surviving junk-free June (without surviving on celery & kale)

I spent the first couple days of junk-free June firmly wishing it was July. Sometimes, after a long day at work, all you want is a big greasy pizza and a side of chips…and a side of garlic bread and chicken wings. I was strong and dutifully ate my low carb, gluten free, refined sugar free pork chop dinner, but it didn’t stop the cravings. It also doesn’t help that my brother is a burger fiend who snaps #junkfoodJune every second day. This post is to all my #JFJ friends out there who are dutifully eating healthy for the entire month of June (30 days is a looonnngg time- next year let’s do fast-food-free Feb?).

So here’s my top 7 tips (7 being the most powerfully magical number) of how to survive this June:

  1. Don’t do it alone. I managed to bully gently persuade a couple of my friends and work colleagues to give up junk food with me and it’s so much easier with their support. You can hold each other accountable, lament over the donuts in the kitchen you can’t eat and send through motivational quotes (this is a personal favourite of mine). If you couldn’t find any friends willing to take up the challenge with you, then jump online and find some! It’s not easy, but the collective willpower and accountability helps a lot.
  2. Keep a food diary. Speaking of holding yourself accountable – write it down! Or alternatively download an app that keeps track of what you’re eating. It’s not to scold you for eating that popcorn chicken your flatmate brought home (I may or may not be guilty of this), but you’re a lot less likely to stray when you’re writing down what you’re putting in your mouth. Because science.
  3. Plan your meals. It’s so much easier to eat healthy when you’ve got the ingredients at hand and know what you’re eating. I spend a lot of time on Pinterest (my guilty pleasure) looking at healthy eating recipes that I can add into my weekly meal plans. You’ll learn that there are a lot of delicious foods you can eat that are actually pretty good for you (e.g. Mexican quinoa #nomnom). Planning your week is also good for the budget, too.
  4. Pick your restaurants/cafes. Junk-free June doesn’t have to mean, antisocial, stay at home and drink kale shake June. You can still go out, just be clever about what you eat. I’m not an authority, but examples of healthy eating are (for the most part) Mexican (’cause avocado is a good fat and gauc is delicious), Thai food, and the likes of Pita Pit, Habitual Fix and a personal favourite of mine: Sip Kitchen – their refined sugar free/gluten free/vegan slices are actually pretty good when you’re craving something sweet.
  5. Find incentives that aren’t food. I am very heavily motivated by food, as am, I’m sure, many of you. Often the food I like to reward myself with is high in sugar/fat/salt and generally quite junk-filled. Move your motivation to something that won’t impact your dedication to the healthy lifestyle like a facial/massage, bath, or that new pair of shoes that you really wanted.
  6. Similarly, find activities that don’t involve eating out at unhealthy restaurants or going out for drinks – yes I’m sober this June too :(. Catch up with your friends over a walk and a coffee, plan a board games night, go for karoake (although this often inspires a social lubricant known as alcohol…). Do something fun and different! July can be your month for margarita Mondays.
  7. Write a list for later. This one popped up on a podcast I listen to – the Savvy Psychologist and although it’s in a slightly different context, the idea is that you bank your whims/cravings/distractions for later. Every time you feel like breaking your junk-free June to have a cupcake, add it to the list. Once it gets to July, you’ll probably find that the super long list you want doesn’t even look that good to you anymore. Just try not to binge on the 1st of July and undo all your hard work.

And from me to you, here’s a great Nelson Mandela quote #gotyourback:

nelson mandela quote.jpg