Body & Fitness

Why we need to think twice about Junk Free June

New Zealand Good Health Choices' editor Rachael Russell worries the fundraising campaign's generous message is getting warped into one of guilt.
Junk Free June

On May 31st I spotted some unusual activity in the office: healthy young women who were usually pretty relaxed around food ripping into bags of chips and chocolate. Why? It was their last chance to get a binge in before Junk Free June. Oh boy.

If you’re one of the people raising money for cancer by taking part in Junk Free June, then this column isn’t aimed at you. You have clearly looked at the website and got the gist. Junk Free June is about giving up your healthy eating kryptonite, be it McDonald’s fries or TimTams, for a month in the name of cancer. Like the 40 hour famine without the glucose lollies.

But like all things, it ends up getting a little warped.

Yes, we need to address our rising obesity rates and reliance on highly processed and packaged food, but is giving up junk food for a month because you’ve heard that’s a ‘thing’ the answer?

Here is why I think not.

Many of the people I see do this are already pretty healthy. They are fit, image-conscious women who are not part of the obesity epidemic, but react to news stories as if they are.

They don’t need to lose weight, but if they spot a chance to maybe drop a kilo anyway, they’ll jump at it. What better excuse than Junk Free June to go on a diet, and have it sanctioned by society?

But when you tell someone not to eat something, you can pretty much guarantee that’s all they will think about eating or drinking. It takes on a heightened appeal, simply because it’s forbidden. For that reason, you end up with pre-bingeing (read the first sentence again), and of course, the ‘thank goodness that’s over’ post binge.

This kind of thinking is why so many women are stuck in a cycle of guilt, depravation, binge, shame, repeat.

Conquering our issues with food and weight starts with getting control of our attitude to food. That’s a complicated topic, but let’s start with the tried and true mantra All Things In Moderation. Not for a month, but for a lifetime. You can always donate to a cancer charity while you’re at it.

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