“Healthy working Lives” NI 2015 – how are we shaping up??

Healthy working lives. Well, that was a morning I wasn’t expecting, all in a good way that is. I was invited to speak at a Business in the Community event for improving employee health and wellbeing in the workplace on Tuesday. I had my hat on as nutrition specialist as part of the Support 2 Perform team human performance specialists.

healthy working lives

My plan was to dip in and present the exciting and important need to using wearable technology for staff health, and then head away to attend to my business demands and what comes with that,  however I was drawn in to stay by the programme line-up and the venue, and I am glad I did!

I must congratulate the Business in the Community team who arranged an excellent set of speakers all of whom were informative and had fresh ideas and information. I hope I can include myself in this line-up!

Minister Wells MLA set the scene with Dr Carolyn Harper providing informative stats. It was then the break out session and my turn under the spot light. Thanks to Dr Jonathan Bloomfield’s information the presentation I felt was extremely well placed, allowing the audience of HR from the public and private sectors to understand and realise the opportunities for their staff with a real return of investment – long term.

The next sessions were close to my heart with the 12 week weight loss programmes presented by Tanya Kennedy and Dr Declan Bradley. A great idea and an excellent starting point for business to test the water with staff health and weight loss.  Progression then to the niche and real long term effective programmes like Counterweight weight management, stress, mental health and nutrition, firstbeat, garmin would then be understood and appreciated for adding value when costing long-term staff health benefits. It was great to see some of the companies that 121 Dietitian have worked with at the event, chatting to these key influencers their feedback made it clear how valuable the advice Dietitian’s provide the  quote “best received” “most talked about by staff ” and looking to rebook soon again.

The final speaker of the event was Susan Hayes Cullerton, an economist from Cork (a place of my family origins) had passion, drive and great humour and she stole the show. She spoke in real terms of her feelings, experiences and future plans on health and wellbeing for herself, her workforce and her future.  As a non-health professional she was a breath of fresh air, she had researched intensively and presented the hard core details effortlessly with a real magnetic charm. I will even forgive her for not promoting those hard working companies who pick up from the free services she mentioned!

As a specialist dietitian I too am passionate, driven and determined and share Susan’s transparency. I don’t shy away from looking in the mirror regularly.  Susan pushed home the importance of needing to look at ones self before being able to advise others. She discussed 5 key areas that she found important to ask herself and she challenged the audience to answer them too.

To rise to this challenge and be transparent,  confirming the deep commitment I have to helping and treating people, here are my questions and answers:

1) Is my health good? Yes; I monitor it closely: I eat healthy, exercise, drink water, take supplements based on my bloods. I am unfortunate to have an auto-immune disease, but the positive I draw from living with this is having been a patient I know how difficult and lonely it can be……Do I eat ‘bad’ foods – yes sometimes. It is important to have balance. I am a scientist, cook, business owner, food experimentalist, mother of 3, wife, work long hours but  I also LOVE Food. I have thus spent the past 20 years creating very clever tasty fast meals, recipes and snacks to allow all the flavours, tastes and enjoyment and variety of food to be had using the healthiest combinations possible. I educate to eat clever: nutrient focus not kcals focus.

I find people judge me as a Dietitian’s assuming that I do not know what it feels like to be faced with unhealthy eating dilemma’s, or they feel that I maybe judgemental towards them because I am slim. If only they could realise that all I ever hope for is that they are inspired to make a change. Dietitian’s can’t win: If we are thin we are not accepted if we are overweight we are not credible! But for the majority of people interested in us it is thankfully often as simple as wanting to know what is in MY fridge and My cupboards!!!

2) The changes I have made to improve my overall health and well being for 2015 is to unsubscribe from unnecessary websites, take up ice-skating with my kids, switch off from work at 10:30pm/11pm at the latest and not the 12pm+ as in previous years. ( I work now 9am-3pm in the office and clinic, pick up the kids 3pm answer emails and calls while homework’s and sporting activities and food cooking takes place and then return to the office/clinic 8pm – 11pm, then its back to unpack the dishwasher, sandwiches and sleep…..

3) I go to bed extremely satisfied and wake up raring for the day ahead.

4) My commitment long term, so as not regret anything when I am 80; is that I have helped many people in my job, raised my kids to do their best and be humble.  I also have for many years now look after (with great time and energy) my mother who is my inspiration to keeping focused and happy. Incapacitated with MS for 40 years she never complains and always has a smile on her face despite her pain and suffering. I can switch off like Susan when I take the 3 hour trip to visit my parents and although it is a full time job, those memories I have stored in the bank will hopefully never be taken from me and when I am having a bad day it cant be half as bad as those my mother has faced daily and have robbed her of her life.

5) My appreciation of the small but most worthwhile jobs often gets my children running for the hills as they know I will either take a while or just maybe be too nice for their liking!  It is good to thank people, it is free and makes everyone feel good it does irk me when it isnt reciprocated but then I just think of how they maybe having a bad day.

I hope that this brief insight to me as a person and dietitian allows those to accept and understand the value of me and the 121 dietitian team, and what we bring to a company has a ripple effect far outweighing any initial investment.

At 121 Dietitian,  availing of a full assessment allows a a complete evaluation of you diet, lifestyle, sleep, inflammation, blood results. A bespoke detailed written programme is then provided – and a follow up to check how all is progressing. Positive results can be achieved in a few weeks. Fantastic for the client and the reason I love to go to work.

If you are unsure of how to change your eating habits, or need help optimising the foods you eat please do contact us. We would love to help you or your family and friends with any nutrition related queries big or small.

In the meantime do please check out our 121Dietitian Shop

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How can a Dietitian help

Gillian x


Information checked & correct on 16th May 2018.

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