Fuelling young men for bright futures

After considering ways the school could support healthy lifestyles for the students back in 2014, Dilworth Catering Manager, Robert McDonald thought about introducing the low carbohydrate, high fat diet (LCHF). Working closely with and following the advice from dietician Dr Caryn Zinn and Dr Grant Schoffield, refined sugar was cut from the menu and carbohydrates were replaced with whole foods and healthy fats. The change made Dilworth School a trailblazer and set an example for other schools and tertiary institutions in terms of promoting better eating choices. Initially just implemented at the Rural Campus, after a few years it was later introduced at the Senior and Junior Campus with a few modifications (a larger focus on whole foods instead of strictly low carb).

Implementing a change like this isn’t easy and certainly came with its fair share of challenges. “There were a number of challenges with this concept. Having to learn a whole new style of cooking, researching/developing new recipes whilst making them appealing and flavoursome – especially to teenage boys”, said McDonald. When the change was first made back in 2014, it was considered quite controversial. “Trying to get people to understand a completely new nutritional pyramid and forget the accepted and support the change to achieve the best results for the students was difficult but has paid off” said McDonald.

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The students at the Rural Campus were individually monitored weekly in 2014 when the LCHF diet was first introduced. They lost centimetres from their waistlines and there were reductions in their Body Mass Indexes. McDonald said it’s not a “diet”. It’s not about restricting the food that the boys are getting but about giving them the appropriate quantity and whole foods which are low in carbohydrates and sugar. “The boys go home each weekend and the Senior Campus boys have after school leave, so they have the freedom to eat what they like during these periods. We do not want to be the food police but we do want to teach them to develop good eating habits" said McDonald.

A typical day at the Junior or Senior Campus would start with breakfast which has a range of options including a cooked breakfast (eggs, spinach, mushrooms, grilled tomato), yoghurt, seeded or wholemeal toast breads with various spreads, granola or smoothies. Morning tea and afternoon tea can include items like yoghurt, chicken wings, smoothies or baked goods. Lunch varies between hot dishes such as teriyaki beef and roast pork through to salads and wraps with a selection of lean meats. Dinner consists of lean meats like grilled fish or marinated chicken accompanied with vegetables, salads and healthy carbohydrates including brown rice and root vegetables. Dessert and supper are also provided daily and consists of baked goods and fruit. The selection changes daily and is always seasonal.

Overall, McDonald believes that the boys that leave Dilworth will have knowledge about nutrition and healthy eating that he hopes they will teach their own families. He acknowledges the importance of ensuring that young people are equipped with the knowledge and supportive environments to enable them to establish healthy eating behaviours to last a lifetime.

July 2, 2020