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The Vanuatu Paralympic Committee (VPC) has received funding from the Australian Government through PacificAus Sports to bring in parathletes and coaches from Tanna, Santo and Efate to participate in a four day camp. Whilst technical skills in track and field events and a competition focused on improvements in the athletes’ results, the importance of good food in improving those results saw a Sports Nutrition session being delivered to the parathletes, coaches and officials.

The old saying “You are what you eat” was emphasised by Anna Sahi, Nutritionist at Port Vila Central Hospital.  Anna Sahi made it clear that eating a well-balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables is very important for strong competition outcomes. Good proteins like fish and meet are obvious but it was made clear that peanuts, peanut paste and eggs are also great protein sources. Keeping away from too much deep fried food was recommended. White rice and white bread provides convenient carbohydrates but eating these must be well balanced by good healthy local root crops – taro and manioc. The Vanuatu Government’s Healthy Kaikai Policy stresses this message.

“Here in Vanuatu, especially in the urban areas, we have a rapidly escalating threat from diabetes caused by too much sugar, white rice and white bread combined with no exercise. I read a report that stated Vanuatu had the highest per capita amputation from ‘Sik Suga’ in the Pacific – one person a day!” commented Margaret Macfarlane, VPC President. “Our athletes are ‘Change Champions,’ not just for more inclusive approaches for people living with an impairment, but also for healthier lifestyles – good local food and exercise.”

The parathletes and coaches did not just ‘talk the talk’ but walked the walk as well. Evelyne Lister of Mama Evelyne’s Catering provided the health morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.

“The food was just great,” commented Stanley Toa, VPC coach from Luganville. “Big fruit platters for morning and afternoon tea and so much good food at lunch – simbolo, taro, pumpkin, kumala and manioc in coconut cream, chicken & beef curries, fish – it really showed the camp participants a great range of healthy local food.”

Photo: Anna Sahi, VCH Nutritionist (at head of table) talks to parathletes, coaches & officials about healthy food at an Australian Government funded PacificAus Sports Program training camp.

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