Improving Longford's health one step at a time

Healthy Ireland to see a number of health-promoting events take place around the county

Jessica Thompson

Reporter:

Jessica Thompson

Email:

jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

Improving Longford's health one step at a time

Mary Carleton Reynolds, Cllr Joe Flaherty, Paula Mulry, Rosemary Gaynor, Cathaoirleach of Granard MD, Cllr PJ Reilly and local Nutritional Therapist Laura Thompson with the Mullinalaghta team

Longford is ready to become a lot healthier following the launch of Healthy Ireland in Granard Library on Saturday morning last.

The Healthy Ireland initiative was launched by local Nutritional Therapist Laura Thompson and the Mullinalaghta football team.

Spearheaded by County Librarian Mary Carleton Reynolds, the initiative sees a number of health-promoting events taking place locally, with experts in various fields of the health industry passing on their knowledge and top tips for both a healthy mind and a healthy body.

“In 1975, one in 100 children were overweight,” said Nutritional Therapist, Laura Thompson at the launch on Saturday morning.

“In 2017, one in four children were overweight. That’s a huge change.

“And, as a nation, as parents, as teachers, as coaches, we are the people who lay down the example to our young people.

“How we behave, how we eat, what our lifestyle is, is really going to affect the health of our children.”

Laura has been a health expert for close to 25 years and is currently developing a 'Healthy Gut Plan', which she hopes will help people to get their gut in shape so that other aspects of their health - both physical and mental - will also improve.

“I think we’re all beginning to become aware that what we eat has a direct impact on how we feel,” Laura continued.

“I’m a true believer in the fact that your gut is your second brain. And it’s very important that we feed our body and feed our mind.

“We’ve become very much a fast food nation. We all like our treats. We need to look back to what our grandparents did and what our great grandparents did.

“The amount of sugar that we consume in one day is probably the equivalent of what they would have consumed in a month.

“So I’m hoping that, with Healthy Ireland, I can help people to cook simple meals - home-cooked, healthy food that doesn’t cost a fortune, but is going to be nutritious - and just to get back to nature; get back to the way our grandparents ate.

“We need to be in harmony with nature,” she concluded.

Also happy to step up and promote a healthy lifestyle were the Mullinalaghta lads who are living it every day.

“As a club, if we look back, before we actually got across the line in 2016, we were actually knocking on the door for a few seasons - we were getting to quarter final and semi final stage,” said John Keegan of the Mullinalaghta team.

“But it was becoming almost demoralising, as a group, to make all the sacrifices and do all the training, without actually achieving our ultimate goal.

“As a group, we had to step back and look at what it was we were doing,” he continued.

“And what we realised was you can’t out-train a bad diet. You can do all the training in the world, but if you’re not fuelling your body correctly, it’s almost wasted.”

He then turned to the children in the room to explain that a car wouldn't run if you used the wrong fuel - and neither will the body.

John also touched on mental health in his speech, explaining that involvement in sport drastically decreases your chance of suffering with mental health issues and that keeping the body healthy is the best way to look after the mind too.

“None of this team here sees training or sport as a chore or a responsibility or an effort,” he added.

“We see it as an opportunity to get out and make ourselves better, more fit, more active.

“And once you frame it like that, then it’s much easier to pick yourself up off the couch and go out training and then get involved with all your friends and then achieve something.

“I suppose the big takeaway is that you’re not going to turn things around overnight; you’re not going to go out and run a marathon in the morning; it doesn’t work like that.

“But go for your walk this evening. Have your porridge in the morning. And through those small steps, one after the other, you'll start to build a foundation for a healthier you,” he concluded.

The next Healthy Ireland event, which was scheduled to take place this evening, has been rescheduled due to the adverse weather conditions.

It is now scheduled for next Wednesday, March 7, in Granard Library, where Nutritional Therapist Laura Thompson will talk about the importance of keeping the gut healthy.

Read also:

Teaching children in Longford to look after their health

Longford Lives: Longford Psychologist Paul Marsden