It All Begins With Food

Building a foundation of knowledge and skills can contribute to improved food choices at any age.

While it’s really important to try and give kids a healthy diet, getting them into the kitchen and involved with food is going to set them up with life skills!

A study Published in May 2012 by Public Health Nutrition in schools across Alberta showed:

Nearly 1/3 of children reported helping with meal prep at least once a day; just over 12% avoided the kitchen completely.

Children who helped with cooking showed a greater preference for both fruits & vegetables. Vegetable preference was also 10% higher among children who helped cook.

The data also showed that kids who did meal prep and cooking were more confident about the importance of making healthier food choices.

The Canadian food guide is a great guideline for parents to use when planning meals. It targets and discusses the 4 main food groups and provides examples for foods to eat and their recommended portion size. Children will be more hesitant to try new foods after the age of two so we need to find creative ways to introduce these foods early in their lives that will interest them.

Our Edible Education Eat the Rainbow lesson is based on knowledge that different colors of foods provide us different nutrients and different health benefits so we want to aim for nutrient diversity. “Phytonutrients” (plant nutrients found in the cells of plants) serve various functions in plants, helping to protect the plant’s vitality. For example, some protect the plant from UV rays while others protect it from insect attack.

Phytonutrients also provides benefits to those who eat the plant; antioxidant, anti-inflammatory & health-promoting properties.

Here are some activities you can use in your classroom or learning setting to Eat The Rainbow!

  1. Give a brief explanation on the Canadian Food Guide, explaining that in Canada our food guide is represented by a rainbow. Green, the biggest arc on the rainbow symbolizes fruits and vegetables, followed by yellow being the second biggest representing grains, blue representing milk and alternatives and red, the smallest arc, representing meats and alternatives. Show Canada Food Guide while doing this. This can be used to demonstrate math skills, grouping similar foods. You can have 5 images of different foods from each food group and group them according to the food guide, then count them.
  2. Talk about recommended daily servings and portion sizes. As a guide and background information use this What Is A healthy Portion Size information sheet. Recommended 5 servings per day. 1 serving equals ½ cup of most cooked vegetables and 1 cup for leafy greens. You can use this to encourage math skills as well and measuring.
  3. As a group, discuss favorite foods that fit into each category. You could have children draw their favourite food to encourage art skills.
  4. Also look at eating the rainbow in regards to the variety of colours in fruits & vegetables and that each colour of food represents a different set of vitamins and minerals to help our body. From a science standpoint you can explain how vitamins are compounds (come from either plants or animals) and minerals are elements that come from earth, rock, soil and water and are absorbed by plants or eaten by animals and that’s how we get them.
  5. Hand out each child a copy of “Eat A Rainbow” colouring activity. This will help kids to remember that the vegetables are the most important arc of the rainbow. To eat a variety of vegetables every day, choose different colours to make eating your vegetables fun! This is a great art project.
  6. Let kids colour the rainbow and the food in it or give it as a “homework” for them.