All over the country snow is turning to sunshine, and we finally feel Spring in the air.
Here in Sun Valley Idaho, it can turn cold again after a 70 degree day! These drastic weather changes can be hard on our bodies. One of the best ways you can keep your immune system strong– and avoid colds –is to eat lots of fruits and veggies.
One of the worst things you can do is to eat a lot of sugar. Sugar immediately reduces your immune response. So you might be thinking: “Oh no! We have had sugar overload thanks to the Easter Bunny!”.
Never fear. I’ve got a fun gift for you in the form of an e-copy of my latest children’s book, Where Does a Rainbow Grow? It inspires kids to learn where healthy foods come from in the form of fruits and veggies. It even has a cute little bunny character named Sammy that takes the kids on a journey.
Before I offer you the book, I want to remind all of us that we should be filling half of our plates with fruits and veggies. We get the most benefit from our fruits and veggies when we have a large variety in the kinds of fruits and veggies that we eat. Each of the colors can be associated with health promoting components found in the foods, from antioxidants to vitamins.
When I teach nutrition lessons to kids and remind them to seek out their Five a Day (two fruit servings and three vegetable servings), I ask them to look for real fruits and veggies. I tell them to beware of wanna-bes (foods that are marketed as being “made from real fruit” and “contains real vegetables” but have other non fruit/veggie sources as their main ingredients).
Why A Rainbow?
Colors in food (if they are natural, of course) often correlate to certain micronutrients. Talk with your child about the benefits of each color group, using the chart below as a guide:
You might be thinking, how can I possible get all of those colors on my child’s plate? You might be surprised how easy it is to find fruits and veggies in all colors of the rainbow. Use the following as a guide, but allow your child to be your shopper’s assistant in the grocery store (“can you help me find a purple vegetable?”), see what kind of colorful plates you can create.
Fruits and Veggies: A Rainbow of Colors
Give me 5! (Servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Three servings of veggies, and two of fruit. One serving = approximately ½ cup)
Yes, your child should be eating more vegetables than fruit. I think we might all agree that getting our kids to eat vegetables is a bit more difficult than fruit. How to get in all those veggies? If our kids need three ½ cup servings per day, that is a total of about 1 1/2 cups of vegetables every day. Here are some examples of ½ cup servings of vegetables that you might find easy to provide your child:
-6 Baby Carrots or 6 Cherry Tomatoes (put in a morning or afternoon snack)
-5 Broccoli Florets (include in your child’s lunch)
-1/2 Sweet Potato (serve at dinner)
We did it! It wasn’t that hard, was it? And just for kicks here are some additional ideas:
-Add veggies to pizza, wraps and sandwiches
-Eat a small salad
-Snack on carrots, celery, and cherry tomatoes
-Add veggies to your favorite pasta/rice dishes
Fruits, Veggies, and Wanna Bes.
Kids are smart, but so are the big marketing companies that want to sell us foods that they proclaim to be healthy. When I teach kids about fruits and veggies, we go through a fun game that I call “Fruit, Veggie, or Wanna Be!?” I show them some pictures of REAL fruits and vegetables, but then I also include some items that are marketed as “contains real fruit!” or “made with real vegetables!”, and we look at the ingredients list to find out if they are instead a “wanna be” (real fruits and/or vegetables are not listed as a top ingredient). If they are a “wanna be”, I remind them that these foods do not contribute to the total five servings that we want to get each day, and they do not count as far as eating a rainbow! Here are some “wanna be” examples:
The book, Where Does a Rainbow Grow? reinforces that a REAL rainbow comes from fruits and veggies. Are you excited for your free copy!? Here it is. I hope you and the kiddos in your life enjoy reading it together!
To your health, Kathryn