Thursday, November 17, 2011

5 Ways To Excite Your Kids About Fruits And Veggies

Our daughter, at 6-months old, enjoying her beets!
She didn't eat them again for 4 more years
When my children were much younger, they ate a wide variety of foods. Friends marveled as they chowed down lentil soup or grilled salmon. I patted myself on the back for their choices of fruit or yogurt as a dessert. However, as they've grown older, they have winnowed away just about everything. My son eats almost no proteins now except eggs and chicken nuggets. My daughter eats almost no vegetables except peas. While they still do eat a lot of fruit and yogurt, the whines at dessert time when I don't have something chocolate are beyond annoying. I'm not worried, as they are both healthy and growing, but I do want them to develop good eating habits!

Recently I got into a conversation with Kia Robertson who runs a site called Today I Ate A Rainbow and happened to mention the trouble I was having getting my kids to eat a variety of foods. Kia very generously offered to send me her Rainbow Kit and we have been using it for a week now. Wow!

Kia's daughter, Hannah, shows off how
the rainbow chart works
My children were immediately intrigued by Kia's interactive magnetic chart. Once they realized that they could move the magnetic shapes each time they ate a fruit or vegetable in the corresponding color to earn a rainbow magnet, they couldn't move fast enough. The first night my daughter ate all her colors except orange and actually begged to eat a carrot so she could complete her rainbow! My son requested avocado at dinner to make sure he got in his green that day! 

In addition to the Rainbow Kit, Kia has a great children's book, with lovely illustrations, called The Rainbow Bunch. This rhyming book was written for young children between the ages of 2 and 5 yrs old. It is a great tool to open up communication about the importance of eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables everyday - my kids have asked to read it numerous time since it arrived.

The complete Rainbow Kit including the book
"The Rainbow Bunch".
Keeping Kids Interested:
So, it's been a week, but will the kids stay interested? Kia and I talked about ways to keep up the enthusiasm as time goes by.
  1. Set a weekly goal. After eating their rainbows Monday through Friday, let them pick a fun family activity on the weekend. It could be something like a favorite board game or book, or a physical activity like swimming or riding bikes. Whatever it is, your children get to choose!
  2. Switch things up. One week you only get magnets for eating veggies, the next week only for eating fruit. Increase the amount that needs to be eaten to earn a magnet. Better yet, set the goal to get two rainbows a day!
  3. Set a monthly challenge. Kia mentioned a family she worked with whose children only wanted to eat at McDonald's because they loved the Happy Meal toys. This family decided to forgo McDonald's for the month and challenge their girls to eat a rainbow every week for a month. Once they did that, they got to go to a toy store and buy a decent toy for a dollar amount the parents had decided on ahead of time. The family saved money (and their health) by not going out for fast food, the girls got a nice toy at the end of the month and realized that they actually enjoyed the good, healthy food.
  4. Healthy Competition. If your kids can handle a little competition, see who can eat their rainbows first. In our house we try to lessen the competition between our kids and increase their sibling bond, so we set up a competition that pits the two of them against mom and dad. It works wonders. Now they feel like a team and as though they are able to do something mom and dad can't do! 
  5. Include the kids in shopping, preparing and choosing. Any time my children help prepare a meal, whether it's setting the table or helping chop something up, they are more invested in eating it. When you're at the market get your kids to help pick out things that fill your rainbow requirements. See if they'll try new food items just because they're the right color. Kia's Rainbow Kits include a color coded shopping list to make it easy. Get clear containers that are easily opened and put items such as edamame, yellow and red bell pepper slices, orange segments and blueberries in each one - let you children choose for themselves.
My children are now seeing that their meals
can consist of more than just the same 3 things they
always ask for!
What I really like about this kit is that Kia said once you have been using it steadily for a little while it just becomes second nature to eat, and shop for, a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. I've never been a fan of hiding veggies in my children's food as I do want them to know that they actually like yams or string beans! I've been so pleased with how this simple tool has actually encouraged my kids to eat not only better food, but a greater variety of foods. And they are now active participants in their health as opposed to just finishing their peas because I won't give them dessert unless they do! The Rainbow Kits happen to be on sale right now and you can get yours by going to Kia's site: Today I Ate A Rainbow.

This has been a great discovery for us. I'd love to hear some of your ideas. What tips do you have for encouraging your children to eat their fruits and vegetables? What are your favorite ways to prepare and serve fruits and vegetables? Do you think a Rainbow Kit would help in your house? 

Thanks for reading!

The Twin Coach

Although I received our Rainbow Kit as a gift, I was under no obligation to review it. I only write about products our family truly uses and loves. I hope you like this one as much as we do!
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