It's the final week of Food4Life #3! I feel sad that another program is coming to an end but also so excited for the participants to get their weight, BP and bloods checked at the end of this week to see the changes (if any, but there definitely will be). As usual, we met together as a group twice this week. I always look forward to these sessions because it's a chance to chat with the participants and get feedback on how they're adjusting to this new lifestyle, see if they're enjoying it or any negatives/positives they want to share!
The turn out to todays lunch time support meeting was probably the most we've had all program. We understand that not everyone will be able to attend every session as not everyone can have their lunch break at the same time and participants are coming from a wide range of departments so workload can vary, meaning they're not able to easily drop what they're doing to attend these sessions. About 15 participants made it today which was fantastic. We started the session off with a brief chat which gave the participants the opportunity to share some stories if they wished. One participant mentioned how she was feeling great and that the pants she was wearing today hadn't fit in the past but now do, so she was feeling very happy with that progress! Another participant shared how she was surprised with the lack of bloating she was now feeling after eating her meals, whereas in the past she would always feel heavy and sluggish after eating. Another reason why eating plant based is so great - it keeps you feeling good!
Today's session featured a presentation from our F4L team GP Dr. Malcolm Mackay. He presented a talk on 'Just How Plant Based Do You Need To Be?'. I've heard Malcolm present this talk before and every time I hear it, it re-enforces the drive in me to continue eating this way. Not that I had any doubts with my choice to eat plant based, but hearing someone speak about how the amount you put in is the amount you will receive really re-enforces the importance of looking after your health. As someone who has suffered health issues in the past, I feel confident that fuelling myself with healthy and wholesome plant based foods is going to make me strong enough if I were to ever encounter my illness, or another sort of illness/disease, in the future. Malcoms talk stressed the idea of making this new lifestyle the normal, and how a 'moderation' or an 'every now and then' mindset can set you up for failure and can eventually lead you to reversing to old habits and undoing the hard work you've put into protecting your body and strengthening you health.
Session 2: Potluck lunch!
Today was our final meeting for F4L #3! We celebrated the end of another successful program by throwing a potluck lunch with the current participants. Everyone who could make it to the potluck brought along a dish to share and we all enjoyed a relaxed catch up and chat over some delicious meals. There was a range of food including some pasta dishes, potato salad, green salad, soup, dip & vegetables and some chocolate/peanut butter slice, date balls and fruit smoothie! It was great to see how proud the participants were about the food they had made and were happy to share with others and to also hear how good they were feeling in themselves after completing the 3 weeks!
We also took the participants weights and blood pressures, just like we did before they commenced eating plant based. Most participants had drops in weight (both big and small) and some large reductions in their blood pressure readings! It was great to compare these results to what their levels were before the program, and seeing the reactions from the participants when told their results was amazing! There is nothing better than seeing someone smiling and beaming with joy, simply by committing to eating plants for a short period of time! Blood test request forms were also distributed today so the participants can have their bloods checked over the weekend, just as they did before starting the program. It'll be great to hear the feedback from these blood results as high cholesterol and blood sugar levels were issues for some participants.
Over the next few weeks, our F4L team leader Peter will collect post-program evaluation forms from the participants. These evaluation forms will give us an overview of how the participants are feeling now that the 3 weeks are over, any improvements they've noticed in themselves such as quality of sleep or energy levels and will also provide us some insight into how we can improve the program for the future! I'll also be continuing my work with F4L as part of my uni placement. I've been working hard on putting together a resources book and also expanding on the recipe book I created before this program commenced. Along side that, I'll also be interviewing previous participants and bringing together a collection of evidence to support F4L and hopefully make it bigger and better!
I feel very privileged to be part of this program and have the opportunity to spread the message of plant based eating and help people take their health into their own hands! Seeing the changes, both physically and mentally, in the people who sign up and complete this program gives me such joy and I can't wait to see where this program goes in the future!