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Eat the Rainbow!

An interactive game that teaches students the importance of eating a variety of healthy dinner foods

Tags: nutrition activities, middle school, dinner

Description: Students walk, skip, and hop around the classroom suggesting healthy dinner foods of various colors.
Objective: Students will recognize the importance of eating a variety of foods for dinner.
Materials: Five to ten sheets each of red, green, and brown construction paper and one to two sheets each of pink, orange, yellow, black, blue or purple, and white construction paper for a total of one sheet per student
  1. Spread the construction papers out on the floor around the room.
  2. Have the class form a big circle.
  3. Quickly review why it is important to eat different kinds of healthy foods every day (because each one helps our bodies in different ways).
  4. Tell them they should eat a variety of textures, flavors, and colors, and that today they will focus on colors. Then, tell them you are going to play "Eat the Rainbow!"
  5. Next, tell them each colored paper represents all healthy dinner foods of that color.
  6. On your signal, they should move around the room using the movement you name (walk, hop, skip, etc). When you say "DINNER," the students should find the nearest open sheet of paper and stand next to it.
  7. Then ask all the students who are standing near a red sheet to name a healthy red food they can eat for dinner.
  8. If a student names a "slow" food or drink, gently guide her or him to think of a healthier choice.
  9. Have the students move again and this time when you say "DINNER", ask the students who are standing near an orange sheet to name orange foods.
  10. Continue until you have gone through all the colors or until you have run out of time.

Eating dinner is important because it refuels the body with the nutrients it needs to function at its best. Dinner is also a social event, and it can be quality time spent with family members. Frequent family meals are associated with better grades, a lower risk of smoking, drinking, and using marijuana, and a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts.

Although all foods can fit into a healthy eating plan in moderation, it is important to reinforce that healthier foods give the body more energy to run and grow. "Junk foods" (processed foods high in fat and added sugar), contain a significant amount of calories but add very little nutrition to kids‘ diets.

"Energy"/"Go" foods refer to nutritious foods which give the body the energy it needs to go and grow. "Empty"/"Slow" foods refer to foods high in fat and added sugar which can slow the body down.

Healthy ("Energy"/"Go") Colorful Dinner and Dessert Foods:

  • Red—peppers, beans, apples, strawberries, raspberries
  • Orange—oranges, peppers, pumpkin, squash, peaches
  • Yellow—corn, squash, peppers, pineapple
  • Green—lettuce, broccoli, spinach, apples
  • Blue or purple—blueberries, corn, blueberry yogurt, eggplant, plums, grapes, beets
  • Pink—salmon, fish
  • Brown—bread, rice, turkey, peanut butter, beans
  • White—low-fat milk, turkey, chicken, fish, beans, cauliflower
  • Black—beans, blackberries, seaweed

Less Healthy ("Slow") Dinner Foods and Drinks:

  • hamburgers
  • hot dogs
  • bacon
  • french fries
  • soft drinks
  • cookies
  • fried chicken
  • fried fish sticks
  • creamy soups
  • high fat pepperoni pizza
  • sweet and sour chicken

Related National Standards

NHES: 1.8.1, 1.8.2, 1.8.7, 5.8.4, 5.8.6, 6.8.1, 7.8.1, 7.8.2
NSPE: 1, 5
NS: NS.5-8.6

Further information about the national standards can be found here.

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