County Kerry showed strong support for The Donal Walsh #Livelife Foundation when more than 600 people attended a health and well-being evening in Killarney this week at the Malton Hotel.  It was organised by The National Dairy Council and Dawn Milk with all proceeds from the €10 admission ticket and from a raffle on the night in aid of the charity.

Award-winning TV broadcaster Kathryn Thomas, associated with programmes such as Operation Transformation and The Voice of Ireland, was the master of ceremonies.

Chef Mark Doe, from Just Cooking, Firies, Killarney challenged the audience members on becoming the perfect “Domestic God or Goddess” with an entertaining cookery demonstration- including a tasting for everybody in the audience – of a Mushroom, Sweetcorn and Bacon Pasta Bake; Rice Pudding with a Berry and Orange Compote; and Buttermilk Scones.

The audience enjoyed a lively presentation by Paula Mee, an independent dietitian and TV personality.  Previously a presenter of RTÉ’s Health Squad programme and currently a well-known media commentator on diet and nutrition, Paula is also a consultant dietitian in the production team for the new TV3 series Doctors in the House.

Speaking in Killarney, Mee said her aim was not to lecture – but to try to encourage everyone to think of physical activity and a healthy diet as lifestyle choices that can have short term and long term benefits to how we feel and to our health.

“A few small changes to your diet and lifestyle could make a really big difference,” said Mee. 

However, she warned that a lot of misinformation exists about milk and dairy produce and advised against “ditching dairy for weight loss”.

“Fad diets are to be avoided.  The only effective approach for successful weight loss that lasts is to adopt a healthier lifestyle which includes a balanced diet and regular physical activity,” said Ms. Mee.    “You still have to achieve your recommended intakes of nutrients when you are trying to lose weight.  In the current climate, more and more families are appreciating natural products like milk, yogurt and cheese for their nutritional values, as well as their versatility for meals, baking and snacks.”

Mee highlighted that whole milk typically contains 3.5 per cent fat, low-fat or semi skimmed milk has no more than 1.8 per cent fat and skimmed milk has no more than 0.5 per cent fat.

“With such a wide range of dairy products in the shops, including many lower-fat options, dairy can easily be included as part of a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. Milk, yogurt and cheese are also delicious and a natural source of a number of important nutrients such as calcium and protein.

“The Department of Health recommends three servings from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group each day,” said Mee. “Five servings per day are recommended for those aged nine and 18 years, due to the importance of calcium during this life stage. Examples of one serving include 200ml of milk, 125ml of yogurt or 25g of hard cheese, with low-fat varieties encouraged.”

National food surveys tell us that 16 per cent of women aged 18-64 years and 13 per cent of women aged 65+ years have inadequate calcium intakes.   Mee highlighted that there are much higher percentages of calcium insufficiencies amongst Irish children and teenagers with 37 per cent of girls and 28 per cent of boys aged five and 12 years; and with 42 per cent of teenage girls and 23 per cent of teenage boys, having inadequate calcium intakes.

“This is particularly worrying within the younger age group because of the rapid bone growth and development taking place at that time – but bone health is something which people of all ages should think about,” said Mee.

Mee talked about the importance of ‘weight-bearing activity’ and physical exercise to help maintain strength in your bones. She described weight-bearing exercises as exercises, which need our feet and legs to support our full weight, for instance, dancing, jogging, tennis or most team sports.

Below is a list of nutrients that milk naturally contains, along with some of the functions they contribute to:

Calcium: – Normal growth and development of bone in children; maintenance of normal bones and teeth; normal muscle function and neurotransmission
Protein: – Normal growth and development of bone in children; maintenance of normal bones; growth and maintenance of muscle mass
Iodine: -Normal growth of children; maintenance of normal skin; normal cognitive development and function
Phosphorus: – Normal growth and development of bone in children; maintenance of normal bones and teeth; Normal energy-yielding metabolism
Potassium: – Normal muscle function; maintenance of normal blood pressure; Normal function of the nervous system
Vitamin B2: – Reduction of tiredness and fatigue; maintenance of normal skin; maintenance of normal red blood cells
Vitamin B12: – Normal red blood cell formation; normal energy-yielding metabolism; normal function of the immune system

Fitness and Performance expert Joe O’Connor expanded on this with a solid introduction to fitness and to the principles of training.  “One size does not fit all when it comes to fitness and training”, said O’Connor. “Adopting a fitness regime that somebody else enjoys will not necessarily be one that you will enjoy.”  He suggests identifying your limiting factors, setting goals and developing a plan to achieve those goals.

“Try to develop a routine which has a variety of components, ranging from development of muscle strength and flexibility to cardiovascular endurance.  Plan definite times for your exercise, monitor your progress and remember, use it or lose it!  Fitness gains achieved will be lost if the stimulus is removed.”

A competitive runner since childhood, O’Connor works works with Professional Golfers, Athletics Ireland, Horse Sport Ireland and the Clare Senior Hurlers via his Fitness Consultancy – – and lectures in areas of Resistance Training, Exercise Physiology and Advanced Performance Training at the Institute of Technology, Tralee.


Pictured on the night were Kathryn Thomas RTE Broadcaster , Fionbar and Elma Walsh Tralee , Mark Doe Chef Killarney, Paula Mee Dietition , Joe O’Connor fitness expert and Caroline O’Donovan NDC