As the junior club rugby season wound to a close here in Auckland last week, I was privileged enough to spend a morning with some ecstatic Kiwi kids and their idol, All Blacks Captain and Swisse Ambassador, Keiran Read.
Verran Primary school played host to the Swisse team and media as students participated in a super-fun event, the ‘Swisse Kids Cup for Champion Eaters’. I love exercise-in-disguise activities, they involve and engage kids in a physical way that cements learning and educational values perfectly. In this instance, Swisse was keen to leverage the results of independent research that discovered 89% of parents share concerns around the way Kiwi kids are eating and their attitudes towards nutrition.
As a mum of two boys I have individual concerns about nutrition for Ethan and Nixon that are as unique as the kids are themselves. One is a dedicated ‘foodie’ with a varied experimental palette and the other likes butter sandwiches on white bread. Sound familiar?
Both boys have always taken a multi-vitamin, Nixie needs this especially, but I love the Swisse philosophy that supplements should be approached as a back stop. Giving kids and their wider family’s the right tools to identify which food sources can add a variety of essential vitamins and minerals to our diet is an investment in future generations and their health.
The kids at Verran Primary School were in for a double treat as they had been chosen to receive a $5000 sports equipment upgrade after being nominated during a Swisse promotion in Unichem and Life Pharmacies!
After the fun and games were over, the presentation of the Very Large Cheque by Read to Principal Jeanette Dunning had been concluded as well as the signing of autographs for every child at Verran Primary (Kieran is such a natural with the kids and so generous with his time!), I got to have a 5 minute chat with the great man himself about nutrition, kids, and sports – three things that are very dear to my heart!
How can we best prepare kids for game day on Saturday mornings when they’re often tired after a long week at school, or in some situations (Ethan prior to his last 2 rugby games) where they haven’t been able to eat breakfast due to concerns around a weight requirement?
KR > The night before and days before a game are really important. It’s not just about fuelling for a specific event but also about building up stores. Including good carbs and lots of protein helps keep us going and to keep those energy levels up.
Now you’re a father of three, are you prepared for the life of a sideline parent?
KR > I’m really excited about my kids getting into sport, my girls will be getting involved soon. I know what it can be, but kids are out there to have fun, that’s my philosophy and our philosophy as parents. I’ll do my bit to help them but it’s really important that we don’t end up dictating what they’re doing, that everyone’s having fun and enjoying it.
From I where I sit as a mum and Rugby Club Captain, identifying pathways for young rugby players to follow is really important if they have dreams and goals of moving on to bigger things. At the top level of the sport, do you find a great variation in the journey your team mates have made from junior player to All Black, or have the guys traveled a similar path through rep rugby, First XV at top schools etc?
KR > There are plenty of different pathways to reach the top level. I really believe that one of the best things about New Zealand is that you’ve got the kid that shoots up at 15,16 and shows their potential then, who has as much opportunity as the one that’s been the star since they were 7. You don’t necessarily have to go to the big school, the school that’s on tv. That special age from 10-18 is the time to be yourself and have fun and try as many sports as you can. What that’s doing is just honing your skills in a way that focusing on one sport, whether it’s rugby or something else, can’t do.
Swisse tips for better nutrition for Kiwi kids include:
- Never skip breakfast – Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. Research shows that eating a good and well-balanced breakfast, made up of whole grains, protein, dairy and fresh fruit kick-starts your metabolism and means that you are less likely to get hungry and overeat later in the day.
- Get your kids to cook with you – Most kids go through a stage when they want to do everything themselves. They may be more interested in eating something that they have helped to create themselves.
- Disguise vegetables – if you struggle to get your children to eat vegetables, try hiding them in things like pasta sauces and muffins, or serving vegetable chips made of kumara, pumpkin and zucchini.
- Eat all the colours of the rainbow – Food that is rich in colour contains a unique set of disease fighting antioxidants called phytochemicals. These can help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease; reduce the risk of stroke; and are great for eyesight and preventing macular degeneration.
- Blend it up! Smoothies can be a great way to increase your children’s fruit and vegetable intake and are good at any time of the day. Let your child pick ingredients to blend up such as yoghurt, fruits, vegetables and a dash of honey.
Thanks to Swisse I have two Kids Vitamin packs to give away, each worth $140! To enter just comment below with your favourite way to encourage healthy eating at home.
Comp closes 14/9/17 NZ residents only.