A healthy eating plan in remote Fitzroy Crossing in the Kimberley is putting a new spring in the step of community members who have struggled with conditions from diabetes to weight gain.
Melbourne nutritionist Emma Park had been flying in and out of the community since April last year doing workshops on eating right for the Marra Worra Worra Aboriginal Corporation.
But in June this year she moved in for four weeks, set herself up in the worker’s camp kitchen and began preparing the daily meals for a group of 23 volunteers.
Over four weeks Park oversaw the preparation of more than 2000 vegetable-rich meals — breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners — from local ingredients.
And she says the results were worth it.
At the end of the program the 19 volunteers who had stuck to the eating plan reported significant improvements in their health.
Some of those with diabetes were able to drop their insulin doses and reported improvements in energy and mood. Other participants lost body fat. Yet others found it helped with pain and inflammation.
One person was even able to put away her walking stick because she had so much more energy and didn’t need it.
“The staple meals up here contain a lot of processed carbohydrates – namely white bread and white rice. There is also a problem with excess refined sugar consumption in the form of soft drinks and Iced coffee,” Emma said.
“So we took that whole food group out, removed all processed carbohydrates and refined sugars and replaced them with vegetables.
“Taking out the nutrient poor, calorie-rich foods and replacing them with low calorie, nutrient-dense foods is very effective.”
The community is now looking at setting up a permanent community kitchen which will run healthy eating cooking classes.
Park is busy training community members to continue the program.