Workshop empowers locals to make better food choices

As part of Mental Health Month, Flourish Australia facilitated an information session on food additives last week to educate locals on how what they eat can affect their physical and mental well being. Pictured are Flourish Australia mental health peer worker Lydon McIntyre, Home Economist and session presenter Louise D’Allura and Flourish Australia manager for Cobar, Brewarrina and Bourke, Lisa Harrison.

More than 40 local residents now have the knowledge to make better food choices when it comes to shopping for their families.

After attending aLearn and Grow for a Well and Happy Household’ community event last Tuesday at the Cobar Bowling & Golf Club, the participants are now armed with a list of food additives to avoid.

The session was presented by Brisbane-based Home Economist and East Coast’s Additive Alert Community Talk’s Louise D’Allura and funded by Flourish Australia, Mission Australia and the Western NSW Primary Health Network.

Ms D’Allura said research shows there are over 60 food additives known to trigger or exacerbate asthma attacks in sufferers that are in foods commonly eaten by children.

“On the plus side, not all additives are bad.

“The trick is to know which food additives are worth avoiding,” she said.

She went through a range of colours, preservatives, antioxidants, gums, flavor enhancers and other additives that have been known to trigger asthma, cause migraines and headaches, allergies, anxiety, aggression, fatigue, insomnia, hyperactivity or have been linked to health, learning and behavior problems.

“By building awareness in what’s in our food, how important eating well is for thinking well and working well, and what the ingredients are, attendees developed the skills to evaluate any product.

“If you look at the ingredient list and you can recognise what the items are, that is a great start,” Ms D’Allura said.

Flourish Australia’s Lisa Harrison, Manager for Cobar, Brewarrina and Bourke said Ms D’Allura shared a lot of information about the research on how important food is for mental health and wellbeing.

“She provided lots of tips on how to interpret food labels and getting organised for low additive eating.

“An important part of the pre-event preparations was Louise visiting Cobar’s local supermarkets to identify product swaps for attendees.

“It was a great session – lots of information – but all presented in plain English,” Ms Harrison said.