Make Nutrition Fun: Follow the Rainbow

This post provides Nurture materials (curricula) to support positive change for health in our world.

Although Nurture has curricula for various ages, this particular post is focused on content to support nutrition education for kids.

I’ll start with a question: Why do we want to eat colorful fruits and veggies?

We learned from Create a Plate that Makes You Feel Great that we want to fill half of our plates with fruits and veggies.

But we get the most benefit from our fruits and veggies when we have a large variety in the kinds of fruits and veggies that we eat.

When I teach kids about eating a variety of fruits and veggies, I try to inspire them to eat a rainbow (see my children’s book series about eating the rainbow).

Each of the colors can be associated with health-promoting components found in the foods, from antioxidants to vitamins.

In this post, I will explain the benefits of each color of the rainbow, and remind everyone that as we seek out our Five a Day (two fruit servings and three vegetable servings) or more, we should be looking for real fruits and veggies.

Beware of wanna-bes (foods that are marketed as being “made from real fruit” and “contains real vegetables” but have other non fruit/veggie sources as their main ingredients).

Why A Rainbow?

Colors in food (if they are natural, of course) often correlate to certain micronutrients.  It is fun to understand the benefits of each color group. You can use this chart as a guide.

You might be thinking: How can I possibly get all of those colors on my (or my child’s) plate? 

You might be surprised how easy it is to find fruits and veggies in all colors of the rainbow.

Parents:  Allow your child to be your shopper’s assistant in the grocery store (“can you help me find a purple vegetable?”), and see what kind of colorful plates you can create together.

Fruits and Veggies:  A Rainbow of Colors

Give me 5!  (Servings of fruits and vegetables every day.  Three servings of veggies, and two of fruit.  One serving = approximately ½ cup)

Yes, your child should be eating more vegetables than fruit.  I think we might all agree that getting our kids to eat vegetables is a bit more difficult than fruit.  How to get in all those veggies?  If our kids need three ½ cup servings per day, that is a total of about 1 1/2 cups of vegetables every day.  Here are some examples of ½ cup servings of vegetables that you might find easy to provide your child:

-6 Baby Carrots or 6 Cherry Tomatoes (put in a morning or afternoon snack)
-5 Broccoli Florets (include in your child’s lunch)
-1/2 Sweet Potato  (serve at dinner)

We did it!  It wasn’t that hard, was it?  And just for kicks here are some additional ideas:

-Add veggies to pizza, wraps, and sandwiches
-Eat a small salad
-Snack on carrots, celery, and cherry tomatoes
-Add veggies to your favorite pasta/rice dishes

Looking for even more ideas? Check out my recipe database.

Fruits, Veggies, and Wanna Bes.
Kids are smart, but so are the big marketing companies that want to sell us foods that they proclaim to be healthy.  When I teach kids about fruits and veggies, we go through a fun game that I call “Fruit, Veggie, or Wanna Be!?”  I show them some pictures of REAL fruits and vegetables, but then I also include some items that are marketed as “contains real fruit!” or “made with real vegetables!”, and we look at the ingredients list to find out if they are instead a “wanna be” (real fruits and/or vegetables are not listed as a top ingredient).  If they are a “wanna be”, I remind them that these foods do not contribute to the total five servings that we want to get each day, and they do not count as far as eating a rainbow!  “Wanna be” examples include fruit roll ups, fruit-flavored cereals and anything “fruit-infused”.

One of the favorite things I do with schools is a Rainbow Day, a great way to highlight the importance of eating fruits and veggies of all colors.

Want to put on a Rainbow Day at your school?  Here are some resources to get you started:

Here are some more resources on eating fruits and veggies:

For a really engaging Rainbow Day, we suggest assigning each grade a color and making that grade the “ambassadors” of that color.  It is great for the students to learn about the fruits and veggies of their assigned color.  When Nurture visited Kindergarten, assigned white, we brought cauliflowermushroomspotatoesjicama, and radishes.

Nurture visited the Dual Immersion (Spanish language classes) on Rainbow Day.  Here are some resources we used:

THE NURTURE CURRICULA FOR EATING A RAINBOW

Eat a RainbowPhytochemicals and how different color fruits and vegetables help our bodies in different ways.

Fruit and Veggie SpudHow they help our bodies and how many we should eat

 

Rainbow RiddleCreate riddles describing fruits and vegetables, share with a partner

 

A Rainbow of ColorsFruit Salsa

 

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