eat your colors®
a great visual guide to nutrition
By Dr. Alan Greene, Pediatrician, Author and Advisor to Plum Organics. Your first try at feeding baby solid food can be overwhelming. For many parents, one of the biggest challenges is making sure to provide all of the right nutrients. Fortunately, there’s an easy shortcut: color. Color engages baby’s sense of sight during the feeding process. It’s an excellent way to excite baby about new foods, while also serving as a visual guide to nutrition. One of the key things we know about diet is that variety is good. To put it simply, eating a variety of color ensures that you’re getting a variety of nutrients. Feeding your baby by color can be easy and fun. It can also help you succeed at offering your little one a wide array of healthful foods. The key to any short cut is understanding the method. Color is pretty straightforward. Many nutrients are colorful; it’s not by accident our eyes are adapted to identify nutritious things. There are, for example, a number of good compounds that show up as green. Eating a rainbow really just means making sure to offer foods of all colors. Setting out a plate with only-beige items should be avoided. It can be difficult to put an entire rainbow on every single plate, so the goal should be to touch on all colors over the course of a day or even a week. I encourage parents to think outside the box and not to neglect what some people might find unusual for kids—and to prepare these foods in all kinds of ways. I’m a big fan of beets for children and wish I had learned to like them as a kid. They’re very sweet and can be steamed, boiled, roasted, and even, for older children, eaten raw. I also like purple carrots, purple sweet potatoes, berries, and red cabbage. For orange, I like everything that starts with P: papaya, peaches, and pumpkin. All winter squash is great—roasted or baked or even boiled in meat stock. Some squash are in the yellow realm, as is corn. For green, there are so many shades and options: light green peas and darker kale and other super greens, avocado, kiwi, plus broccoli. Offer them all. Of course, parents shouldn’t exclude all white foods. They may not be as colorful, but many of them— including potatoes, cauliflower, and even leeks and scallions— have lots to offer in the way of nutrients, textures, and flavors. Remember, a varied diet is about more than just vitamins. It also allows young children a chance to develop their Nutritional Intelligence, their likes and dislikes of certain foods. The more flavors they’re exposed to early on, the more likely they are to prefer a broad mix of foods for the rest of their lives. And that’s a fulfilling goal!