Proud To Be irish

In honor of our group marching in the Huntsville Saint Patrick's Day Parade on Saturday, I wanted to share a little about my experience in Ireland.

When I was 21 years old, I moved to Ireland for the summer. Didn't really have a plan and I didn't know anyone there. It was just something that I had always dreamed about doing.

It was a great experience and I learned a lot of things. One being that there should be more of a heads up when a hostel has co-ed showers.

Something else I learned is that you do not see very many overweight Irish people. My scientific research turned up 5 ways that they manage to keep excess weight off.

1. Lots of walking

Everybody walks! I'm guessing it is because the people that drive are on the wrong side of the road. Crazy people. Think about how many calories you would burn if you walked 1-2 hours a day. Not to mention avoiding a lot of the trouble brought on by excess sitting.

2. Slow eating and drinking

I went to a job interview for the highly sought after short order cook position. During the job interview process, they gathered all the candidates together and gave everybody a Guinness.

Everything was going along great until the owner looked at me and said, "That's the problem with you Americans you do everything so fast!" I looked around at everyone who had taken tiny sips of their beers and I was almost done. I'm task oriented, what can I say?

I didn't get the job if you wondering.

This was something I observed a lot. Irish meals would be drawn out over music, laughter, conversation. They would eat smaller amounts of food, but would feel full because they gave their brains the time to tell their stomachs that they and eaten enough.

The focal point of their meals was the company they were with, not the food itself. This was pre-smart phones, so it may be different now.

3. A lot of the food is terrible

Seriously. Hard to eat to much when you don’t enjoy the food. I made the mistake of wandering into McCary’s (thinking it was a McDonald’s). Had the golden arches and everything, but I'm pretty sure the burger was made of ground leprechaun. Bad times.

The thing I started doing is just using food as fuel, not a way to make myself happy. It was a mind set shift for me. Food should be enjoyed, but it's not a way to alter my mood.

4. Avoiding fast food

Whenever I went into a fast food place (I was desperate! Have you ever seen blood pudding?) it would be 99% tourists. The locals would not eat there.

A co-worker put it simply "We don't eat it it's because the food is addictive and it will make you fat."

Weird how "outsiders" can see that so easily, but we Americans keep right on keeping on with fast food.

5. Access to affordable, fresh produce

I was making the equivalent to about 4 dollars an hour. Not much in a big city like Dublin, but I could still afford to get fresh fruits and vegetables from the Farmer’s Markets they would have scattered throughout the city.

I'm not asking you to eat terrible food, but: adding more walking and vegetables; eating and drinking slower; and avoiding fast food are all habits you can start adding that will be a tremendous help.