Eating Rainbows

rainbow-food-4When my kids were little, getting them to eat enough fruits and vegetables could be a challenge. As the mother of four, I sometimes found my creative abilities in the kitchen stretched to their limit. Until one day, I discovered the power of a rainbow.

My kids were fascinated by rainbows. Then one day we walked into the grocery store. It was a sunny day and light from windows high up in the walls shone down on the fresh fruits and vegetables in the displays. It was like stepping into a crayon box of glowing greens, reds, yellows and oranges. My son Jamie, who was about five at the time, stopped just inside the door and said, “Wow, this is like a rainbow in here.”

I had been a mother long enough by that point to know an opportunity when I heard it. “It sure is,” I said. “And when we eat a rainbow, we know we are getting all the good stuff we need to grow and stay strong and healthy.”

The kids all looked at me. We talked and sang about rainbows and looked for rainbows at every opportunity, but I had never mentioned eating one before. Even my oldest, then ten, looked interested. Doubtful, but interested.

“Look,” I said, heading for the fruit. “If you ate an apple, an orange and a banana, you would have eaten red, orange and yellow. Then, if you eat green beans -” the only veggie they all ate without fuss – “you have four colors already …. that’s almost a full rainbow. AND, you’ve gotten all kinds of good stuff… the stuff you need to grow.”

“Hm,” said Katie. “You’d still have to eat something blue and purple.”

“Blueberries,” shouted Meg, from the seat. She was three and blueberries were one of the few foods she deigned to eat.

“Grapes are purple,” said Jamie, looking around with more interest than I had ever seen him – or any child – take in the vegetable aisle.

I knew I was on to something.

The next morning I unveiled my new secret weapon in the fight to feed my children well. I called it the “Rainbow Chart.” Basically a calender, it had space for each kid to color in a five-color rainbow for each serving of a fruit or vegetable that they ate without a fuss. The person who “ate the most rainbows” at the end of the week would be rewarded with a non-food treat. Together, the kids and I came up with a list of “rainbow foods” – carrots, yes…Skittles, no. But the concept was so simple even little Meg understood at once.

My kids loved the concept of the rainbow food chart. Narrowed down to five basic colors – red, orange, yellow, green and blue/purple – it’s a simple and easy way to encourage anyone to eat healthier. Think about it… Did YOU eat a rainbow today?

Written by: Annie Kelleher

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About the Author

Anne Kelleher is the author of 14 novels and a series of short stories. The mother of four and grandmother of two, Annie has been concerned with diet and nutrition for many years.

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