Learning healthy eating at a young age

Longford Comhairle na nÓg met with nutritionist Anne Maher earlier this year to learn about the foods Irish people are eating and if they are the right foods to maintain a healthy body and lifestyle.

Longford Comhairle na nÓg met with nutritionist Anne Maher earlier this year to learn about the foods Irish people are eating and if they are the right foods to maintain a healthy body and lifestyle.

Anne kicked-started the day by asking each group what sort of foods that were available in local school canteens. The group was quite surprised at the labelled “Dirt” food that students were consuming. She then proceeded by splitting the group into two halves. This part of the workshop was “Back to Basics”. Each group was given a task, one group had to make a list of foods available to people living in urban Ireland in the 1950’s, while the other group had to make a list of foods available in rural Ireland. The one thing we all noticed was that the two lists differed greatly from the list of foods available in school canteens, but was it a good difference?

The food readily available in the 1950’s was all natural, good food, while the food in the school was mostly high processed foods. To show this even more, the group of teens were, not only shown how, but actually prepared and cooked chicken wraps from scratch with all natural foods and free range eggs. The youths were divided into groups, each designated to make the three parts of the meal: the Tortillas, mayonnaise and salsa and last but not least, the chicken nuggets. When the preparations were finished, they finally cracked down on the cooking. With Anne only supervising, the cooking was done without any hiccups.

With the cooking completed it was time for the group to sample their food. Everyone sat around the table and filled up on chicken wraps and discussed how delicious and simple the meal was. Members of the Comhairle were impressed with what they achieved and really realised the importance of good food and how much more tastier it can be.

In the afternoon, nutritionist Anne Maher had one final trick up her sleeve. She gathered everyone around the projector and showed us a power point presentation about different foods, their nutritional value (i.e. what vitamins and minerals the food contains and what they help to produce in the body), and passed around cards with photographs of average families from different countries around the world, the amount of food they eat in a month and how much it costs them. Everybody was shocked at the contrasts in the photographs.

After a round of “Q and A”, the group sat down and brainstormed ideas for the task at hand - to promote healthy eating to teenagers in Longford and surrounding areas. The group will work together on a healthy eating project for the local schools in Longford, with the hope that schools will come on board the healthy diet, healthy minds that the Longford Comhairle believe will help Longford teens in school.

Jim Maher, Regional Youth Officer and Comhairle coordinator in Longford was impressed with the commitment of the young people involved in Longford Comhairle na nOg.

“It’s great to see young people coming together to raise awareness around important issues such as healthy eating and lifestyles which augers well for the future,” he said.

For further information about Comhairle na nOg, contact Jim Maher on 086-0672920 or email james.maher@foroige.ie. Special thanks to Longford County Council and Foroige for assisting the work of Longford Comhairle na nOg.