Rethinking workplace lunches


Business people looking for a quick bite to eat often grab some greasy fast food to satiate their appetites before returning to work. As much as people enjoy a double quarter-pounder, one can’t help but wonder about the health risks associated with excessive consumption of fast food, especially by people who sit around all day without the opportunity to exercise to burn off the excess calories. To that end, a new meal service venture is hoping to change these habits. GÜ has been established by a group of food lovers with diverse backgrounds, attempting to provide a healthier option for workplace lunches. The group has already made an impact in several businesses in the Springfield area and is looking forward to expanding their reach. The main idea around the meals is simple: eating healthier food will keep your intestines from eating themselves from the inside. In promoting this, the group uses the term “microbiome.” David Radwine, head chef of the GÜ project, explains, “What happens in your microbiome affects pretty much everything that goes on within your body.” Radwine said, “It affects your brain, it affects depression, anxiety and chronic disease. Everything that you put in your mouth has some effect on everything you do.” Without good health in the microbiome, one’s digestive health begins to fail. The bacteria located within the intestine can eat away at the intestinal lining, causing severe health problems. Jesse Brock, director of sales and market development for GÜ, made note of the vast numbers of little pieces within the body that can be affected by a poor diet and eating habits. “When they started doing the Genome Project in the late 90s, that’s where the microbiome really started to take shape,” Brock said. “There are about 100 trillion bacteria that live inside your digestive tract.” Brock is a living example of this. He suffered from ulcerative colitis that greatly impacted his ability to live a normal life. After many fits and starts, he was asked to change his diet and given a grocery list of items to help prepare better meals. For 30 days, Brock stayed consistent with his new diet and saw his health greatly improve. This experience left Brock with a better understanding of how the body works and helped influence how he sees his own diet. “I had to reintroduce the bacterias into my body,” Brock said. “Bad bacteria cause leaky gut and that’s the stem of most inflammation in the body. So, if you have arthritis, or if you have other types of autoimmune disorders, things where doctors say they don’t know what the actual answer is, we’re starting to learn now that this is where most of that starts.” Brock would eventually team up with Radwine, a former Sangamo Club chef, and Dennis Bringuet, owner of Ace Sign Company, to form GÜ All three have also had various health issues solved through an improved diet, in addition to exercise programs such as CrossFit. The meals provided by GÜ are specifically designed to promote healthy intestines, which in turn, help prevent various diseases and medical maladies. These include stews and salads made with fresh ingredients, as well as different kinds of fruits and desserts, even including a small piece of dark chocolate alongside certain meals. “What we’re doing is focusing on fresh, minimally processed foods, with lots of leafy greens such as kale, spinach and arugula – a lot of these types of vegetables, along with parsnips, carrots, celery, jicama and many other fresh vegetables,” Radwine said. Bringuet and Radwine started small, working with Ace Sign Company on workplace wellness. The idea proved so popular that other businesses wanted to get on board. To date, seven other businesses have done so, with more likely to join in later. “We’re so happy to see people enjoying the food, and more importantly, helping their health,” Bringuet said. “In this country, we’re faced with some real problems with health care. I think a lot of it is because of our lifestyle crisis. The more and more you read and see, there’s a lot more mainstreaming of that issue.” Brock and Bringuet run the business side, while Radwine does most of the cooking. Bringuet said that GÜ has prepared more than 5,600 meals in the past year, but could do more. “We’ll just see how it goes,” Bringuet said. “We really are not planning any massive growth. If we can provide local businesses with a wellness program, that’s all the satisfaction we need.”

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