The Eating Rainbow

When people learn that I’m the chef for Guiding Stars, they often ask me what the secret is to getting healthy foods into my three children. I suppose they assume that because I work for a nutritional guidance company that somehow my kids have internalized the appreciation for fruits and vegetables that everyone else wished their kids possessed.

Garden Rainbow
Garden Rainbow / Big Dubya / CC BY 2.0

To a certain extent, my kids have benefited from their exposure to all the different types of dishes I create for Guiding Stars and the ingredients and techniques I use in my own catering business. But like other kids, their favorite foods are still the pasta, breads, and other yummy starchy carbs that appeal most to the school-aged set. So I still have to be diligent about helping them establish healthy eating habits, and for me, hammering in the importance of diversity–especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables–is the number one goal.

I came across this amazing color-coded chart from Chasing Delicious last week that I wanted to share.The wheel is divided up by the color of fruits and vegetables, and each color has a unique set of associated health benefits based on the concentration of phytonutrients contained within them. Additionally, the chart groups each section by preparation time and/or ease of use, so a quick glance will tell you which foods are the fastest path to a nutritious meal or snack.

How can you help your kids eat the rainbow?

  1. Print out the chart and have your child circle one or two items they like in each section. Keep these foods stocked and ready to eat at all times and encourage them to choose a different color each time they have a snack or meal.
  2. Have your child identify one food in each section that he would like to experiment with and add that food to your weekly menus.
  3. Set up an “Eating Rainbow” challenge over the summer, and allow your child to cross off each fruit or vegetable as she works her way through the chart. You can incentivize the effort with a rewards system, placing a premium on trying new foods within sections as well as eating from as many sections as possible.