Eating the Rainbow for Better Health

In an era of ever-increasing fad diets and far out health plans it easy to overlook the value in just supplying your body with good wholesome healthy food. As a home educator, I feel even more inclined to teach my kids the importance of eating healthy along with modeling those eating habits myself.

Some of the best words of wisdom in regards to keeping your diet well-rounded stem from old Eastern philosophy and are explained well for adults by Dr. Mao Shing Ni courtesy of the Dr. Oz show. I want to share with you today though, how these nutrition choices are important not only for adults looking to extend the length of their life naturally, but also to provide your children with the nutrients they need naturally.

Eat the Rainbow!

We’ve all heard the catch marketing line from Skittles telling us to “Taste the Rainbow,” but I’m inviting your to get your kids ready to eat the rainbow.

A rainbow of fruits

Dr. Mao Shing Ni explains to us how each of the five color groups of food, red, orange/yellow, green, white and blue/purple bring unique health properties to the table, making it important to bring each to our plate at least once a day. Many of us are stuck in eating ruts though and may find that these colors only appear once or twice a week.

Incorporating them into your diets does not have to be a chore though; in fact, you can make a game of it with your kids. Check out this list from Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D, shared by North Dakota State University, which shares some great examples of foods in each color group.

Pick one that you know your kids will eat and snag up some photos from Creative Commons. Print the foods out onto cardstock and cut out. Sit with your kids each week with the cards while working on meal plans and play a round of memory match (two copies each food) or even something along the lines of Go Fish (4 copies for each food) to determine which foods from each color you will incorporate into your meals.

The Rainbow on a Budget

The best way to boost up your nutrition with the rainbow of foods is to eat them fresh and we all know that a pantry and fridge full of fresh produce can often take a hit on the wallet. Here is what you can do!

Sit down with your weekly store flyers and cut out all of the produce pictures, with prices, from the ads. Then you can work together with your kids to get the full spectrum into your meals each day without breaking the bank.

Rainbow Beets

And though, fresh often does equal more money, you may find that your grocery cost go down a bit once replace not so good for you snacks and processed foods with more fresh fruits and veggies. For example, Angel Food Ministries offers up a produce box each month for around $30.00 that can supply a family of four with what I feel is a sufficient amount of fresh produce for a week or two. So for less than $100 a month you can help incorporate these colorful foods into your diet in their natural state.

Don’t Just Eat the Rainbow, Embrace It!

Now I get to be Debbie Downer and remind you that eating each of the colors everyday isn’t going  to do a thing for you, if you are not eating them right.

A few quick tips for getting the most out of your fruits and vegetables:

  • Leave the peel on or don’t even bother marking of that color for the day. In many fruits in vegetable vital nutrients are found in the peel and when you dispose of it you have drastically reduced the value of the food.
  • Do not cook the food to death! The longer you cook it, you know the mush state, the less nutrients that are left. The heat breaks down all of the goodies. That does not mean you should eat everything raw though. There are certain fruits and veggies that do not reach their full nutritional value until heat has been applied in some for to release the nutrients. Just take a little time and research the best way to each food.

Food Color Induced Rainbows Do Not Count!

  • Make sure you are eating proper servings! Popping five red grapes in your mouth doesn’t really count as having a full cup of “red” for the day now does it. Don’t cheat yourself by skimping on the serving; make sure you get a full cup to work towards the recommended two servings of fruit and three and half servings of vegetables a day.

Tracking the Rainbow

I invite you to see the difference adding the rainbow makes to your diet. Sign up for SparkPeople.com, a free nutrition and fitness tracking community and track your normal diet for one week. Be sure to click on “Change Nutrition Goals” in your food tracker and add in all of the vitamins and minerals to be tracked as well as the basics.

Then the next week, plan your meals to include all of the color food groups and track what you eat again. When you’re done, come back and share with me how much of a difference the change made in your diet. Did you find you were supplying your body with more balanced nutrition without having to add any supplements?

Do you already strive to serve up the rainbow each day in your home? If not, how to you plan to incorporate the vibrant blend of foods into you and your kids’ diets?