Research has shown that students are able to learn better when they’re well nourished, and eating healthy meals has been linked to higher grades, better memory and alertness, and faster information processing. One reason for this is that foods that are rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fats such as eggs, yogurt, apples and oatmeal keep the body feeling full longer, providing enough energy to focus and stay alert throughout the entire day. As a student or a parent, how do you find time to pack lunches that are healthy, tasty, and don’t take hours to prepare? One simple way that you can ensure your student is getting enough of the nutritional foods that they need is to pack foods from every color of the rainbow.
Eating the Rainbow of Healthy Foods
“Eat the rainbow” is a phrase that many nutritionists use to help remind people to incorporate more fruits and veggies in their diet. Naturally colorful foods like blueberries and red bell peppers contain antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, and many other nutrients that support healthy growth, and help prevent problems such as obesity, dental cavities, iron deficiency, and osteoporosis. For example, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables are abundant in vitamins C and A, which prevent cell damage, support healthy joints and eyesight, and lower cholesterol. Green fruits and veggies, such as spinach, asparagus, and avocado, are high in vitamins K, B, and E, which improve digestion and support healthy bones. Purple produce is high in vitamins C and K, which help with memory and support a healthy heart.
See the list below for foods and snack ideas from each color of the rainbow that will satisfy even picky eaters, and provide the nutritional value you need! In most cases, raw versions of fruits and vegetables contain maximum vitamins and minerals.
Sliced strawberries, cherries, apple slices with all-natural peanut butter or almond butter, raspberries, watermelon slices, cooked sweet potato slices with cinnamon, cranberry juice, tomato slices with salt and pepper, bell peppers slices
ORANGE & YELLOW Foods
Pineapple slices, cantaloupe balls, baby carrots with ranch dip, peaches, dried mango slices, oranges, yellow peppers, lightly salted pumpkin seeds, roasted squash, fresh papaya
Sugar snap peas, kiwi, celery sticks with peanut butter, honeydew slices, avocado slices with salt, green grapes, cucumber salad with tomato and Italian dressing, peas, zucchini slices, broccoli, kale or spinach salads, stir fried bok choy
BLUE & PURPLE Foods
Blueberries, blackberries with low-fat yogurt, dried plums, grapes, eggplant parmesan, raisins, pomegranate juice, roasted beats
Banana slices with peanut butter, roasted cauliflower, pear slices, white peaches, hummus dip, sautéed mushrooms, white bean dip with wheat crackers, hardboiled egg, kohlrabi slaw