I recently went into my daughter’s school to talk with kindergarten, first and second graders for career day. I talked about all the places dietitians can work and then talked about what happens when kids eat the rainbow. Now, I don’t know what the teachers thought about it, but I got the kids riled up. By the end, the students were screaming out fruit and vegetable names. As a dietitian, that’s the definition of success!
My main message as you may have guessed was to encourage the kids to eat the rainbow. With this age, it’s a pretty powerful comparison. You may or may not remember, but rainbows are quite magical. That pot of gold at the end is just waiting to be found by a little kid. Could eating the rainbow help you find that pot of gold? It just might make you stronger and help you think clearer during the hunt. There’s no telling what you’ll have to go through to get to the end!
Eat the Rainbow
Here are some quick notes about each color and some ideas for fruits and vegetables of each type. In no time, your kids will be adding more to the lists.
Simple roles in the body: supports heart and brain functions
Vegetables: peppers, tomatoes, radishes, beets
Fruits: strawberries, cherries, cranberries, pomegranates, apples, pears
Orange & Yellow
Simple roles in the body: supports heart, eyes, and immunity (fight germs)
Vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers, beets, pumpkin, winter squash
Fruits: oranges, peaches, cantaloupe, pineapple, pears, mangos, lemons
Simple roles in the body: supports eyes, strong teeth and bones
Vegetables: asparagus, arugula, broccoli, green beans, kale, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, lettuce, spinach
Fruits: avocado, kiwi, green apples, grapes, pears, limes
Blue & Purple
Simple roles in the body: supports memory and aging
Vegetables: eggplant, cabbage, carrots, peppers, potatoes
Fruits: grapes, prunes, plums, figs, blueberries, blackberries
The kids at my daughter’s school were shocked when I said there was one more color after purple. But white fruits and veggies are important too!
Simple roles in the body: supports heart and blood flow through vessels
White vegetables: parsnips, potatoes, mushrooms, jicama, garlic, cauliflower, fennel, onions, shallots, leeks, ginger
White fruits: bananas, pears, white nectarines, white peaches
Get Kids Talking About Produce With These Ideas
- Talk to your kids about eating the rainbow. Encourage them to notice the different colors of the fruits and vegetables they’re eating. Have them count all the colors they see.
- Talk about specific types of veggies and fruits that come in different colors. Sweet peppers are one type that come in red, orange, yellow, green, and purple. Carrots can be different colors too. More examples are beets, onions, tomatoes, apples, and pears.
- Talk about how sometimes the inside is a different color than the outside. Bananas, apples, watermelon, avocados, and cantaloupe are just a few examples.
- When you go to the grocery store, encourage kids to notice all the different colors in the produce department. Take a few extra minutes to make a rainbow in your cart.
- Visit the farmers market a few different times throughout the growing season. Talk to your kids about how the colors available change. There might be lots of green in early spring, and more colors available at the height of the season.
The next time you’re hoping your kids will eat more variety, try talking about how they can eat the rainbow. You might be surprised how soon they’ll be searching for more colors to eat!