Do you ever struggle to get your child to eat his fruits and veggies? Do you ever wonder how in the world you came to have a picky eater in your family? Would you like to know how to get your kids to eat the rainbow?
Recently, I have responded with a resounding “yes” to each of these questions as my middle daughter has expressed her unique food preferences quite frequently this summer. What she might enjoy one meal, she may despise the next without the appearance of rhyme or reason. In search of a reason why I took to google and found this encouraging article which basically concluded that sometimes kids are just kids.
“A 2015 review of dozens of studies that date back to the 1990s that looked at kids’ eating patterns found that fussy, picky or choosy eating habits were linked to and affected by everything from personality traits to parental control at mealtime to social influences to maternal eating patterns. Or it could just be your kid being, well, a kid.”
Whatever the reason, one of the top recommendations for helping kids get out of a picky funk is to provide them with a lot of GOOD choices. You may have even heard some encourage kids to “eat the rainbow.” Why? Because color tends to denote different vitamins. By eating different colors of the rainbow, we are taking in all the different essential vitamins our bodies need to grow and live healthy lives.
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When the girls were little we gave them all kinds of fruits and vegetables. If it could be ground in a blender and served, we gave it to them. However, as they got older, their range of fruits and vegetables slowly dwindled as personal favorites developed.
Eat the Rainbow Chart
That’s when I learned about the idea of eating the rainbow. While it sounded great in theory, eating the rainbow sounded costly, especially if purchasing items out of season. That’s when I put together this Eat the Rainbow Chart. This chart helps us to easily see which foods would be best to purchase each month both for nutritional value and financial return.
The chart is organized first by color and then by seasonal availability. The darker the shade of that month’s box, the more likely you will be able to find that item in your local grocery story (in the United States).
There are some months where some fruits or vegetables would be either financially or nutritionally better to buy in another form (frozen or canned). During those months you will see the label “can” because it is the best time to buy that food canned or “fz” because it is the best time to buy that item frozen.
How to Use the Chart
With the use of this chart we have dozens of choices each month of the year to eat the rainbow. Want to join us? Need some help getting started? Try one of these simple tricks to get the ball rolling:
- Have your children choose one new food to try from each color of the rainbow each time you go grocery shopping.
- Assign your children the job of food taster. Have them rate the foods they try. Keep in mind that it may take 12-15 times for a child to become accustomed to a certain food so you may even want to make it a math problem–they should try the new food 12 times, report their rating each time, and then average out the ratings for a final score. Does the food earn a better rating if it is cooked? Raw? Frozen? The possibilities are endless.
- Give your child one food from each color of the rainbow and see if they can create a fun craft to eat using all the colors.
However you decide to use this chart, the more colorful your plate the better. And, summer is a great time to expand one’s pallet of fruits and vegetables! So be sure to download your free copy of this Eat the Rainbow Chart and have fun exploring!