EAT A RAINBOW!
Did you and your family eat a rainbow today? Encourage yourÂ child to make balanced food choices and fill each day with plenty of colorfulÂ fruits and vegetables. But, as many parents know, sometimes children can beÂ picky eaters, making it challenging to get their fill of the much needed,Â nutrient-rich produce. Today I Ate a Rainbow is a great organization that hasÂ found a way to help make eating fruits and vegetables more fun: simplyÂ eat a rainbow!
Eat a rainbow? What does that mean?
Itâ€™s as simple as it sounds: have your child eat at leastÂ one fruit or vegetable from the five major color groups each day:Â red,Â orange, yellow, green,Â andÂ blue/purple.Â The more colors your children consume the more varied the nutrients their bodiesÂ are receiving. Make it fun! Kids get a sense of pride and satisfaction whenÂ they can visually track their progress. Use crayons or markers to keep track ofÂ what colors your child has consumed, or check out the assembled game kit below.
- Red: strawberries, watermelons, tomatoes, beets, red peppers
- Orange: mangos, carrots, yams, oranges, cantaloupe (Many orange foods containÂ beta-carotene and vitaminÂ C to work with calciumÂ to build healthy bones.)
- Yellow: bananas, lemons, pineapples, yellow peppers, apricots (YellowÂ foods, like bananas, are rich in potassium and help regulate your heart and buildÂ strong muscles.)
- Green: spinach, avocados, green apples, green beans,Â broccoli (Darker green vegetables contain more vitamin C thanÂ lighter green vegetables. Vitamin C helps protect us from getting colds.)
- Blue/Purple: blueberries, eggplant, blackberries,Â plums, purple cabbage (Blue and PurpleÂ foods often contain fiber to help our digestive systems.)
Each color group has different vitamins and minerals, making it important for your child to eat all five groups. Also, children are more likely to eat pretty, appetizing foods, so eating a rainbow is a pot of gold!
How do I get my child to eat a rainbow?
Today I Ate a Rainbow has awesome pre-assembled kits to get your kids excited about eating new foods. You can purchase a kit here (or make your own for free!). First explain to your child the importance of eating different colors of fruits and vegetables. Each time your child eats a fistful of a color group, have her check off that category. Once she eats a fistful of grapes, she can put a magnet in the blue/purple group. As the day progresses and she eats different colors, she can put more magnets on her chart until the whole chart is full. Once she has completed all five groups, she can color the rainbow, and maybe even sing the Rainbow Song that the Today I Ate a Rainbow organization likes!
Reward your child for eating a rainbow over the long-term (but NOT with junk food). For example, after your child eats a rainbow for a week you can have him choose a family activity he wants to do, like family game night.
The ultimate goal is to get your child to eat a rainbow each day, but if your child is really picky, you can start with smaller goals, like eating a rainbow in a week, or counting a bite of tomatoes as satisfying the red category. Then you can slowly progress until your child is eating a rainbow each day!
Here are some tips on helping your child eat a rainbow each day:
- Have your child help prepare meals.Â Getting your child to work with vegetables will make her want to eat them!Â She can do simple tasks like pulling apart pieces of lettuce.
- Keep lots of fruits and vegetables inÂ sight. Your child will grab whatâ€™s near when he is hungry, so if he seesÂ accessible fruits and vegetables he will be more likely to eat them.
- Serve simple fruits and vegetablesÂ without many sauces, as this is more appealing to children.
- Make sure you eat fruits andÂ vegetables. You are a role model to your child!Â Lead by example.
- Start with small servings of newÂ fruits and vegetables. Children often have to eat a new food a number of Â times before accepting it, and pressuringÂ them to finish a large portion will make them less likely to eat the food.Â