P-A-C-K a nutrition rainbow for lifelong health

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Stephanie Ryder
  • 52nd Medical Group
It's never too early to learn how to eat healthy. A special program called Pack Assorted Colors for Kids, sponsored by Welch's, is helping the Spangdahlem Air Base community to do just that. 

P.A.C.K. makes eating healthy easy for not only kids, but for adults and families, too, by focusing on the colors of the rainbow. Each day of the week is assigned a color. The goal is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables which represent the colors of the week. To make this interactive, you can go to http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org to find your daily goal or servings.

Why eat the colors of the rainbow? Well, fruits and vegetables are the primary sources of chemical compounds called phytonutrients. The different colors ensure each serving is packed with vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients to keep you and your family healthy. 

Have you heard of lycopene, resveratrol or beta-carotene? These are all examples of phytonutrients that can protect or stave off the onset of certain chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. 

Other tips to getting the kids and family to eat colors of the rainbow:

- Prepare meals together to get the family involved.

- Keep fruits and vegetables in sight and stocked in your fridge so foods are readily available between meals when hunger strikes.

- Make grocery shopping interactive by asking your children to help pick out fruits and vegetables and make a game out of "spying" different colored fruits and vegetables.

- Make a concerted effort to make half your plate fruits or vegetables at every meal.

- Keep food prep simple; don't overcook, and limit high fat sauces, oils and butter.

- Be a good role model and don't pass your food dislikes or pickiness to your family; it takes at least 15 exposures to a food item for kids to even begin thinking they might want to try something new.

- Prepare one meal; making several meals to meet everyone's needs can be exhausting. Unless there are specific medical reasons that would prohibit a family member from eating the meal, making a special kids' menu isn't necessary.

- Children are generally pretty good about self-monitoring when they are hungry or full. Emphasize serving sizes that are reasonable. Finishing the plate when you are full or not hungry only encourages behaviors that are hard to break as adults.

During March, we will also be collecting submissions for Spangdahlem's first family friendly e-cookbook. The recipes must include at least two of the three: fruit, vegetable or be 50 percent whole grain (brown rice, whole wheat flour, quinoa, etc.) The fruits and vegetables must be different colors to maximize the phytonutrient content of the meal.

Recipe categories include breakfast, lunch, snacks and 30-minute dinners. Recipes can be submitted to U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Bradley Burton at bradley.burton.1@us.af.mil. If you have any questions, please call the Health Promotions office at DSN 452-7385 or 06565-61-7385.