As parents, we are all concerned about our kids’ nutrition and health. Instead of stressing about the details, make healthy eating fun by thinking about the bigger picture.
Eat a Rainbow
Have fun with teaching your kids about food. By eating a rainbow of foods throughout the week, you can ensure you are eating lots of healthy nutritious fruits and vegetables, which are an essential part of healthy eating. Have your kids come up with a food for each color. Apples and watermelon are red. Oranges are orange. What about the rest? Can you think of any blue or purple foods? There are even healthy white foods, like cauliflower.
You can also talk about how a lot of white foods are not so nutritious, and you can tell the difference by asking if it came from nature already white, or if we made it that way? (Sugar cane is yellowish-green, and wheat is brown, for example.) Have fun! And then try to challenge your family to eat every color by the end of the week.
Traffic Light Eating
Traffic light eating is a great tool for kids and adults! Green means go, and you can eat as many green light foods as you wish! Fruits and vegetables are always green light foods, and for some families this may include powerhouse foods like nuts, salmon, or brown rice. Yellow means slow down, and yellow light foods are every day foods that you can eat, but you might just slow down and ask yourself “Am I full yet?” Red light foods are those where you stop and think. These are foods you should limit in your daily life, like most desserts and processed snacks like chips, as well as soda.
Every family will define traffic light foods a little bit differently, but it’s basically introducing the idea that there is no judgement of food, but that food falls on spectrum of healthy, healthy-ish, not healthy.
You can go even simpler by talking about “everyday foods” and “party foods.” Everyday foods correlate to green light and yellow light foods above. Things you can eat every day, though you may pause periodically and ask yourself if you’ve had enough. Overall though, you don’t need to think or worry about every day foods, and your body will guide you to the perfect amount.
Party foods on the other hand aren’t like what we find in nature. Party foods are very fun, and can be enjoyed at parties and on other special occasions. Party foods should not become every day foods, though, because they are much more processed and refined. Your body will have a hard time knowing the right amount, because they don’t have things like fiber, which help us feel full. Party foods should only be eaten at parties or other special celebrations.
With these simple tools, you can have fun introducing nutrition to your kids at any age! If you want more fun, download the free coloring page printables, or buy a copy of the healthy eating coloring book, “Picky Kids into Healthy Eaters.”