The day-long workshop on "Food without preservatives" featured two sessions — one on grandma’s recipes and the other on importance of millets for effective functioning of the brain and body.

The importance of consuming healthy food without preservatives and the benefits of using millets in one’s daily diet were explained to parents (mothers) of autistic children during the one-day workshop on “Autism vs. food” organised at Pravaag Transitional Centre and School for Children with Autism on Friday.

The day-long workshop on “Food without preservatives” featured two sessions — one on grandma’s recipes and the other on importance of millets for effective functioning of the brain and body.

In the first session, Nainar Mohamed and Yasmeen Mohamed of Ahmed Masalas, Tiruchi, served cooked food samples to the participants at the workshop. They doled out tips to parents on the methods of cooking and duration of storing different kinds of food, importance of avoiding heavy, rich food such as non-vegetarian dishes or maida parotta at night, the dangers of consuming food at restaurants and fast food outlets, the ways to consume each kind of fruit, healthy fruit juices for summer, and so on.

K. Geetha, director, Pravaag, explained that preservatives alter the chemical composition of the brain, thereby resulting in mood swings and behavioural abnormalities. She said that children with autism could exhibit noticeable improvements in behaviour when their diet was modified into a healthy and balanced one, free from preservatives and chemicals.

“Spicy food results in hyperactivity among autistic children. So, it is advisable to use them minimally. Research shows that maida and bread varieties are not autism friendly,” said Ms. Geetha. She stressed on the need for the 45-day assessment while introducing different kinds of food to autistic children.

During the second session, an assortment of dishes prepared using eight variety of millets was presented by members of Annai Theresa Ladies Welfare Association, Tiruchi. Manonmani Sundararaj, president, Annai Theresa Ladies Welfare Association and the other members presented dishes such as sambhar rice, biriyani, adai, paniyaram, poriyal, soup, varuval, and payasam, made using different millets.

The millets used were kambu (pearl millet), kelvaragu or raagi (finger millet), sozham (sorghum), saamai (little millet), varagu (kodo millet), thinai (foxtail millet), panivaragu (proso millet) and kudiraivaali (barnyard millet).

Handouts with recipes using millets and the benefits of consuming them were distributed among parents.

G. Sathyabhama of Evergreen Organics Healthy Food, Karumandapam, described how an individual consumed adulterated products amounting to 395 milligrams during the course of a day. “Right from toothpaste which contains high amounts of nicotine, packaged milk which contains detergent, to tea which can contain red oxide, white sugar with 12 kinds of chemicals and rice grains with urea, each and every item one uses on a daily basis is highly adulterated with toxic substances,” she said.