In a typical year, articles about immunity peak in the winter and fade from the news cycle well by the time kids are done with school. But 2020 is of course no typical year. Immunity matters every day.
Having just one bad food day, bingeing on sugary snacks or drinking a few beers, for example, can be enough to suppress your immune system. And that’s not something you want to happen this year especially.
Perhaps a silver lining to this challenging time is that more people will be more conscious of the connection between food and immune health. And there’s no better way to support your immune system, and that of your kids, than by eating a rainbow diet.
What’s A Rainbow Diet?
Eating a rainbow diet means incorporating some of the most colorful and nutrient-dense foods. The concept seems pretty simple. Just fill your plate with natural foods that are bright red or pink, orange, or dark yellow, blue or purple and, of course, greens, lots and lots of greens.
You don’t have to eat a full rainbow with every meal. But you should try to eat the full rainbow throughout the day.
The idea behind the rainbow diet is that even if you eat pounds of broccoli and spinach every day, no one or two foods will provide all of the nutrients you need to attain optimal health. The same chemicals that give the healthiest plant-based foods their bright color are the ones that provide health-building, immune-boosting nourishment.
Eating a rainbow diet sounds so simple. Yet nine out of 10 people do not meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for daily fruit and vegetable intake. Federal guidelines recommend that adults eat at least 1½ to 2 cups per day of fruit and 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables as part of a healthy eating pattern.
To achieve a superior state of well-being, your daily intake of fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense plant-based foods should far exceed these federal guidelines.
But if you have kids, how do you impart onto them the importance of eating a rainbow diet?
How To Get Kids To Eat A Rainbow Diet
What kid doesn’t love a good superhero story? To turn your kids into passionate rainbow diet advocates, you need to frame the story of nutrition around the classic good versus bad superhero story.
When talking to your kids about the importance of a rainbow diet, villains will be central to the story. There are two main types of villains: yucky germs that destroy our health and make us sick, and the toxic chemicals in processed food.
The good guys of course are the superfoods that save the day, each and every day, strengthening our bodies and keeping us healthy.
You can use a little historical perspective in your story. Teach your kids that many years ago, people didn’t live that long. And one of the main reasons why people died much earlier is that there wasn’t access to colorful superfoods that are around today. (You don’t have to tell your kids that a big reason lifespan was much shorter was because of the lack of life-saving anti-infection medicines.)
Unfortunately, lack of access to superfoods plagues many communities today. The coronavirus is disproportionately affecting minorities, in large part because of chronic diseases caused by inadequate nutrition. Teach your kids from an early age about the need for all people to have access to healthy food.
You can even take an active part with your kids in donating to a charity that works to increase access to healthy foods in low-income communities. To do so, give your kids some extra allowance money, which they can use to donate to the charity. Have your kids fill out the envelope, writing the name of the non-profit. Your kids can also include a message in the form of a letter or drawing in the envelope that imparts their hope that all kids can eat a rainbow diet.
Another great idea, courtesy of Yummy Mummy Kitchen, for getting your kids to eat a rainbow diet is by using the following chart, which you can print out and hang on your refrigerator:
How To Talk To Your Kids About The Rainbow Diet
In the food story of good versus evil, it’s tempting to label junk food like candy as the villain. But framing the story with candy as the antagonist can backfire. See the image, below, courtesy of KidsEatInColor.com, for examples of how making candy public enemy #1 can cause unintended harm.
Remember, the villain of the story should be toxic chemicals and afflictions that your kids can relate to. For example, if your kids don’t eat enough fruits and veggies, they might go blind. Just kidding, you don’t have to frighten them. But you can show them how eating a rainbow of foods can give them superhero vision.
What Are The Benefits of A Rainbow Diet For Kids?
It would be far easier to list the benefits you don’t get. Every facet of health is obtained from eating a wide variety of colorful, nutrient-dense foods: cardiovascular support, blood pressure, cholesterol, immune balance, you name it, you’ll get it from brightly-colored superfoods.
When it comes to teaching your kids about the benefits of a rainbow diet, should you skip those that don’t affect youngsters? Think: cholesterol, blood pressure, cardiovascular. Perhaps it seems pointless to address these benefits of eating a rainbow diet because it doesn’t pertain to them?
But if you frame these benefits in a way they’ll understand, you’ll have a much better chance of getting your kids to eat superfoods.
For example, explain to your kids that people who eat lots of junk food develop a bunch of gunk in their bodies. And this yucky, waxy villainous gunk can get stuck in your arteries and shorten your life.
Again, no need to scare the kids. But you can say something like, “Mommy and daddy want to live a long time so we can take care of you and see you grow up, and that’s why we eat a rainbow diet.”
Point out the veins on your body to illustrate that this is where cholesterol builds up. (In reality, cholesterol doesn’t accumulate in the veins, it accumulates in the arteries, but you can’t see arteries.)
Are your kids old enough to understand what’s going on with the coronavirus? At least the gist of it? If so, the health crisis can actually make it easier for you to get your kids to eat a rainbow diet. You can explain to them how eating a wide variety of brightly-colored foods are the superheroes that can help prevent bad guy germs from attacking the body.
Best Foods From The Rainbow Diet
The main phytochemical that gives certain foods their bright red color is lycopene. Abundant in tomatoes, red cabbage, and watermelon, lycopene is one of the best compounds for protecting your skin in the summer.
Want to get your kids to eat more red superfoods? Tell them something like this: “You don’t want to get a sunburn do you? I hope you never get one, but when I was your age, my parents didn’t know how important it was to eat a rainbow diet and let me tell you, I got sunburned so many times and it feels awful.”
In research studies (like this one), lycopene, which is a type of antioxidant called carotenoids, has been shown to have a beneficial effect on blood pressure and healthy cell formation. Lycopene is also found in bright pink foods such as guava and grapefruit.
Other nutrients in bright red foods include anthocyanins, beta carotene and vitamin C. Anthocyanins fit well into the superhero/superfood narrative because they battle harmful, free radical proliferation.
Other bright red/pink foods to eat: beets, cherries, cranberries, red grapes, red peppers, pomegranates, raspberries, red potatoes, red carrots, and strawberries.
Rich in vitamins A and C, carotenoids (teach your kids this compound is where the name carrot comes from), and dozens of other beneficial compounds, orange and yellow superfoods give us superhero vision, and like red foods, can allow us to splash in the pool without getting sunburned (that and natural sunscreen).
Here’s some yummy orange and yellow foods to eat: apricots, carrots, corn, mangoes,
oranges, peaches, pears, pineapple, pumpkins, tangerines, yams, and yellow peppers.
“Anthocyanin” will be difficult for your kids to pronounce, but your kids’ brain and heart will benefit from this phytonutrient. Blueberries, purple grapes, plums and raisins are kids’ favorites.
If your kids think anthocyanin is hard to say, wait until they try “zeaxanthin,” which is just one of the many health-boosting compounds in green superfoods. Spinach, kale, collard greens, broccoli, asparagus, onions, green onions, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage are some of the most available superfoods in green and white.
Beans, beans, they’re great for your heart, the more you eat, the more you…
...Well, that’s up to you if you want to sing to your kids the rest of the song. But you can teach your kids that legumes and whole grains are filled with fiber. And there’s nothing uncouth about teaching your kids about the importance of fiber to help you stay regular. (“If you don’t eat enough fiber, it will hurt your tushy when you go poopy.”)
Introduce Your Kids To A Rainbow Diet As Soon As Possible
The lack of access and/or the lack of superfood consumption is not only an American health concern. According to an article in the journal Appetite titled, “Eating a Rainbow: Introducing Vegetables in the First Years of Life in 3 European Countries” fewer than one fifth of children in Europe consume the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables.
The researchers suggested increasing the variety and frequency of vegetable offering between 6 and 12 months of age. This is when children are the most receptive to trying new foods. When your kids get older and become pickier, that’s when you can tell them good-guy superhero health-building nutrients vs. disease-causing villains stories.
The Easiest Way To Get Your Kids To Eat A Rainbow Diet
Talking to your kids about eating their broccoli is one thing. Getting them to eat it of course is another thing. Want your kids to eat a rainbow diet everyday? And without the hassle of shopping for dozens of superfoods, cutting them up into tiny pieces and cooking them day in and day out? The easiest way to get your kids to eat a rainbow diet is with BōKU Superfood Powders.
The foundation of optimal health is Organic Superfood Phytonutrient Powder, which contains an incredible 55 of the world’s most nutrient-dense and colorful foods on Earth!
Superfood powder is loaded with green goodness. There’s the ones your kids know about: broccoli, spinach, kale, cabbage and parsley. But there’s lots of others that they don’t know about: barley grass, nettle leaf, nopal cactus, spirulina, chlorella (blue-green algae), and sprouts. Your kids will love the taste of Superfood powder. Although each scoop contains less than one gram of sugar, the BōKU blend of Super Fruits naturally makes it taste a bit sweet.
The Super Fruit blend in Superfood powder includes a rainbow-rich variety of the world’s most potent antioxidants in Mother Nature’s candy store: lucuma, goji berry, hawthorn berry, blackberry, tart cherry, blackberry, pomegranate, raspberry, blueberry, acai, cranberry and strawberry.
Imagine what it would cost to buy all these super fruits individually! Superfood powder is also sweetened naturally with Vermont maple syrup, which contains lots of minerals.
Your kids might not like the idea of eating mushrooms, but they won’t even know that Superfood powder contains 14 edible Super ‘Shrooms.
If your kids drink smoothies, adding a scoop or two of Superfood powder will ensure your kids will get the rainbow diet nutrition they need to develop into strong, healthy adults.
And who says chasing rainbows is a fanciful, unrealistic goal? When it comes to your kid’s health, eating a rainbow diet should be a reality every day.