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Health staff leading the way with wellness challenge

27 June 2018

Dionne Sheehan
Wellness challenge co-ordinator Dionne Sheehan (DDHHS senior workplace health and safety advisor – wellness) with some of the resources provided to staff as part of the ‘Your Lifestyle, Your Food, Your Choice’ initiative.

Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service (DDHHS) staff are leading the way in addressing diet-related health issues, participating in the organisation’s ‘Your Lifestyle, Your Food, Your Choice’ wellness challenge recently.

More than 300 staff members participated in the challenge and followed one of three diet strategies for four weeks.

The diet strategies were the Australian Dietary Guidelines, Low Carb High Fat (LCHF), and the CSIRO Boost Program.

Wellness challenge co-ordinator Dionne Sheehan (DDHHS senior workplace health and safety advisor – wellness) said the initiative aimed to support DDHHS staff and their families to improve their overall feeling of wellness by making better food choices.

"The challenge was not a weight loss competition, it was a way to raise awareness of the benefits of healthy eating and provide staff with the tools to do so," Ms Sheehan said.

"Each diet strategy was accompanied by literature including meal plans and recipes and staff were also provided with information about how to calculate daily energy needs and food serves, reading food labels, mindful eating, self-monitoring and goal setting," she said.

"Each diet strategy had a champion who shared with staff how they felt their diet strategy had benefited their lives."

The Australian Guide to Health Eating diet was championed by DDHHS director nutrition and dietetics Welma Joubert.

"The Australian Guide to Health Eating is about being mindful, planned and portion controlled," Ms Joubert said.

"It is getting back to basics and eating less processed foods, more whole foods, less added sugar and less fats, specifically saturated fats," she said.

"It involves learning how to make balanced meals and snacks with healthy portion sizes, getting away from the dieting mentality, adopting a sustainable lifestyle and managing the other reasons we have for eating, such as emotional reasons and non-hungry eating.

"It’s not necessarily a diet, it’s more of a structured way of eating that allows regular meals and snacks."

The Low Carb High Fat diet was championed by DDHHS chief executive Dr Peter Gillies.

"The Low Carb High Fat way of eating is based on the premise that we are not evolved to eat large amounts of carbohydrates, and we should be eating more protein and fat," Dr Gillies said.

"The carbohydrates we do eat should be low-carbohydrate vegetables that contain natural fibre and we should avoid simple carbohydrates like white bread, rice and potatoes, starchy vegetables, and high-carbohydrate fruits," he said.

"The key point with this way of eating is you don’t have to be hungry – the protein and fat in your diet stabilises your blood glucose and helps you to feel fuller for longer, so you don’t crave sugar and you don’t feel as hungry, but you can also eat to your hunger.

"It’s quite a simple way of eating that can keep your weight under control, your blood glucose at a good level, and reduce your risk of diabetes."

The CSIRO Boost Program was championed by DDHHS director physiotherapy Paul Barber.

"Essentially it is a higher protein, low glycaemic index (GI) diet, based predominantly on the Australian Dietary Guidelines but with a focus on using protein to help reduce hunger and keep you feeling fuller for longer," Mr Barber said.

"I like this program because it offers achievable weight loss, I lost 5.5 kg in five weeks and I feel like I’ve got more energy," he said

"The first week was a bit of a shock to the habits but you can have one indulgence a day, so if you save a few of them up you can have a social event on the weekend and fit that in as part of your diet.

"The diet uses a lot of fresh produce and portion control, with easy food preparation and basic yet tasty recipes."

Wellness challenge co-ordinator Ms Sheehan said there was a lot of positive feedback from staff who participated in the challenge.

"Staff members said they enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the challenge and have learned to be more aware of their food choices, and to plan meals in advance for success," she said.

"Participants reported feeling an increased sense of wellbeing, higher energy levels, and better concentration throughout the day.

"The challenge was part of the DDHHS staff health and wellbeing program, which supports staff members to lead the way in achieving the DDHHS vision of ‘caring for our communities – healthier together’.

"The program helps staff to incorporate healthy choices into daily living and identify opportunities for regular movement and exercise."


The Australian Guide to Health Eating

Breakfast: 60g wholegrain cereal with 1 cup reduced fat milk, plus 100g reduced fat yoghurt
Lunch: Sandwich with 40g chicken, 1 teaspoon margarine and 1 cup salad vegetables, plus one apple
Dinner: 1 cup cooked pasta with 65g cooked mince, ¼ cup kidney beans, 1 ½ medium tomatoes, ½ onion, 2 cups green leafy salad, 2 tsp unsaturated oil
Snacks: 2x small coffee with milk, 30g unsalted nuts, 1 cup stewed plums, 100g yoghurt
More information:

The Low Carb High Fat Diet

Breakfast: Omelette with 2-3 eggs, cheese, red capsicum, tomato and onion
Lunch: Salad with ½ to 2/3 tin tuna, 2 tbsp low carb mayo, ½ avocado, cucumber and mixed leaves dressed with olive oil and apple vinaigrette
Dinner: ½ to 1 cup mince with onion, tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, seasoning and low carb veg, plus ½ to 1 cup cauliflower mash and 1 cup broccoli
Snacks: Black coffee or tea (with cream if desired), 1 cup chicken bone broth, 30g macadamia nuts
More information:

The CSIRO Boost ProgramBreakfast: Smoothie with ½ cup reduced fat milk, 100g low-fat yoghurt, ½ cup mixed berries, ½ tbsp unprocessed oat bran
Lunch: Salad with half red capsicum, 2 small tomatoes, 1 lebanese eggplant, ½ zucchini, 1/3 tsp paprika, 200g chicken thigh, ¾ tbsp balsamic vinegar, ¼ head radicchio, basilDinner: Stir fry with ½ tbsp mirin, ¼ tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp teriyaki marinade, 1cm ginger, ¼ tbsp olive oil, 100g mushrooms, 1 ½ Lebanese eggplant, 1 ½ spring onions, 200g beef strips, ¼ tbsp cornflour, ½ tbsp sesame seedsSnacks: Boiled eggs, avocado slicesMore information:

Last updated: 29 June 2018