FAQ

Browse through our FAQ section to learn more about playing Raise Your Rainbow® and the benefits of fruits, vegetables, and phytochemicals.

  1. “FAQ - Game Related” to get the most of playing Raise Your Rainbow®, and;
  2. “FAQ - Nutrition Related” for answers to commonly asked questions including why fruits and vegetables are so important to our health.

FAQ – Game Related

Q: What is considered a serving? Does my child need to eat specific a serving size in order to raise a rainbow band?
A.
A typical serving size is:

  • ½ cup of cut-up fruit or vegetables
  • 1 cup of leafy greens
  • ¼ cup of dried fruit
  • ¾ cup (6 oz.) of 100% fruit or vegetable juice

Serving sizes for small children are slightly less - use the size of their fist to gauge an average serving size. When playing this game, our advice is to simply give credit for each food “encounter” (whatever amount your child eats of a fruit or vegetable), and if the number of encounters is increasing over time then that’s what is important. It’s also a good idea to give credit even for a few bites of a new food.

Q. How many servings of fruits and vegetables should my child eat each day?
A.
The answer depends on your child’s age, gender and activity level. Click HERE to see a summary of the USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans serving recommendations.  For simplicity's sake, if your child is averaging between 5-9 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables a day, then over the course of a week they should receive a wide variety of nutrients from theses foods.

Q. Can you talk more about the Bonus Serving Stars?
A.
The Bonus Serving Stars are designed to provide recognition for additional fruit or vegetable servings from a color that has already been raised. When we tested our product we realized it was very important to recognize the accomplishment of having a second (or third...) serving from the same color. The Bonus Serving Stars can be used on any color and in any amount per color. If you do have a choice when selecting the color of your “bonus” servings though, go for the dark and leafy greens, deep orange and red vegetables, beans/legumes, and fruits that are in the citrus, berry or melon groups - these categories contain many nutritional superstars.

Q. Why are Fruits and Vegetables combined in Raise Your Rainbow®?
A.
The main reason we’ve combined fruits and vegetables is to keep things simple. Some of the same vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals can be found in both fruits and vegetables, they are not mutually exclusive. However if broken down by category, pound for pound vegetables do offer a wider variety of nutrients and are generally more nutrient-dense than fruits; this is why most dietary guidelines advise getting more daily servings of vegetables than fruits. Fruits (and starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn) often contain more sugars compared to vegetables and more sugar means more calories making them less nutrient-dense. So as long as you are eating both fruits and vegetables and in a variety of colors, you should get a healthful mix of nutrients.

Q. There are some fruits and vegetables that come in multiple colors and some that have different colors on the inside vs. the outside – is there a rule of thumb we should follow for color categorizing?
A.
Our advice is to use your judgment in order to make this game work for you and your child - the goal of Raise Your Rainbow® is to eat more fruits and vegetables however you can do this! There are often many different varieties and colors of the same fruit or vegetable available. For example, apples and pears come in yellow, green and red and nutritionally speaking, they are generally equal in value although the darker the skin, the more antioxidants the skin contains and thus the better it is for you. We offer no hard and fast rules because if you’re eating a serving of a fruit or vegetable you should be rewarded for that. Eating a blood orange? Move up the red or orange band. If your child only has the yellow band left and he eats green apple slices, count it as yellow and move up the band. This game was not meant to follow strict nutritional guidelines, it’s meant to be simple, encouraging and fun. We want to keep kids motivated and engaged along the way – so do what works best for you!

Q. Can I consider legumes (beans) a serving of vegetables when we play Raise Your Rainbow®?
A.
Yes! “Legume” is a class of vegetable that includes dried peas, lentils and dry beans, i.e. great northern, pinto, navy, kidney, lima/butter, garbanzo (also known as chickpeas), black beans. Legumes are commonly categorized in the protein section of many food guides because they are an excellent source of protein while at the same time being rich in fiber, complex carbohydrates and other important nutrients, cholesterol–free and low in fat and calories. We include them in our vegetable list because they are a type of vegetable and one that provides more nutrients per serving than most other vegetables - so it’s important to be reminded to eat them in abundance.

Q. Can I move up rainbow band if I have a serving of fruit or vegetable juice?
A.
As long as the juice is labeled as “100% (fruit or vegetable) juice” it can count as a serving. Although 100% juice is a healthy alternative when compared to other juice products like juice “cocktails” or “blends” that contain added sugars and sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup, it can still have a high concentration of sugar. Also, drinking juice does not give you the same benefits you get from eating fiber-rich whole foods. So limit juice consumption to one serving per day (about 3/4 cup or 6 oz.)

Q. Do you have any suggestions for how to use Raise Your Rainbow® when my kids eat at school?
A.
Remind them in the morning before they leave for school that they can move up a rainbow band for the fruits and vegetables they eat at snack or lunchtime. Then give them credit for what they ate at school when they get home. Surprisingly enough that often motivates them to make healthy choices.

If your kids bring their lunch to school, the opportunities for a healthy brown bag lunch are endless. Here are some great lunch ideas from one of our favorite websites on brown bag lunch tips or from this Australian website with healthy lunch box ideas.
 

Q. We usually have trouble achieving the Blue/Purple color rainbow band, do you have any suggestions?
A.
We also found that the Blue/Purple color category is the most challenging color to achieve just for the fact that it contains the least amount of fruits and vegetables and many of them are not necessarily common or kid-friendly. The main focus of Raise Your Rainbow® is to get kids eating more fruits and vegetables so if blue/purple is the only color left to move up and you don’t have anything available to eat in that category, choose instead some dark red fruits or vegetables such as red grapes, red leaf lettuce or cherries. The deep red fruits and vegetables contain much of the same powerful antioxidants and nutrients that are found in the blue/purple category - so move up the blue band for eating those foods. There are no hard fast rules to this game, so be flexible, creative and make it work for you and your child – that way everybody wins!

Here are some helpful tips for earning your blue/purple band:

  • Sprinkle blueberries on cereal or yogurt or eat them in a bowl topped with yogurt or whipped cream for a snack or dessert (i.e. a “Blueberry Sundae”).
  • Add canned black beans to rice, corn, soups or sprinkle on a salad.
  • Shred purple/red cabbage on salads, sauces or main dishes.
  • Drink a smoothie made with blueberries or blackberries (keep a bag of frozen berries on hand.)
  • Drink a serving of 100% fruit juice made from concord grapes or acai berries.
  • Have a handful of raisins or black currants as a snack, sprinkle on hot oatmeal or add to many recipes, salads, etc.
  • Offer whole or sliced black olives as a condiment or sprinkle slices on salad or pizza.
  • Dip pita chips in black olive tapenade.
  • Some stores may carry the following vegetables in purple: peppers, potatoes, cauliflower, onions, asparagus and even carrots!

Q. Why don’t you also incorporate keeping track of the other food categories such as protein, whole grains, healthy fats, etc.? Isn’t it just as important to teach children about a well-balanced diet?
A.
The purpose of this product is to bring fruits and vegetables to the forefront and to get children actively involved with choosing and consuming more fruits and vegetables. The consumption of the other food groups is usually easily achieved with minimal effort as most children naturally like the taste of breads, pasta, oatmeal, rice, peanut butter, nuts, eggs, etc. Raise Your Rainbow® puts the focus on fruits and vegetables because they are commonly lacking in everyone’s diet (only about 25% of Americans eat the recommended five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables. Source: CDC Facts About Obesity in the United States).

FAQ - Nutrition Related

Q. Why is it important to eat fruits and vegetables?
A.
Fruits and vegetables are naturally:

  • Low in fat
  • Low in calories
  • Low in sodium (some are sodium-free)
  • Cholesterol-free
  • Rich in fiber
  • Chock full of vitamins, minerals and powerful phytochemicals

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables enhances your health. The vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals found in produce work hard at boosting your immune system and in the long run help protect you against disease. The dietary fiber in fruits and vegetables fills you up, is great for your digestive health (relieves constipation), and carries out undesirable fats, toxins and carcinogens from your body. Also, if you’re eating a fruit or vegetable that means you’re not eating something processed which usually provides empty calories along with often times unhealthy ingredients!

Tell your children that every time they eat a fruit or vegetable it’s like eating a vitamin from nature – it’s good for their body and helps keep them healthy and strong.

Q. Why is it important to vary the colors of the fruits and vegetables I eat?
A.
The color of a fruit or vegetable is a prominent indicator of the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals it contains. Phytochemicals, also referred to as phytonutrients (i.e. nutrients derived from plants) are health-promoting compounds that give produce their color and also act as powerful antioxidants in both plants and humans. Each color group supplies a unique mix of nutrients which target different areas of your body, so it’s important to vary the colors you eat in order to get a wide range of these nutrients. Also, when phytochemicals from different color groups work together their protection powers become even greater. For more information regarding the health benefits of each color group, see our color guide under the Parents Tab.

Q. Why are phytochemicals (a.k.a. phytonutrients) so important to our health?
A.
Fruits and vegetables provide a concentrated source of phytochemicals which act as powerful antioxidants (a single orange contains about 170!) Antioxidants clear our body of free radicals which can damage our DNA. They also boost our immune system and in the long run can protect us against the effects of aging and help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. If you have 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day along with the other plant-based phytonutrient-rich foods (whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds) you will supply your body with thousands of these disease-fighting compounds.  It's important to note that phytochemicals are only found in plant-based foods and are not found in processed foods or animal-based foods such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, etc.

Q: Should I aim to eat more vegetables than fruits? If so, why?
A:
Overall, vegetables are more nutrient-dense than fruits – meaning they are packed with many health-promoting vitamins and minerals in a smaller number of calories and the more nutrient dense a food is, the better it is for you. In general fruits contain more natural sugars which is why they are great for an energy boosting snack, but the added calories from the sugar often make them less nutrient dense than vegetables. Although many vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals are shared between the two food groups, for the reasons listed above you should aim for more servings of vegetables – even if it’s just one or two more per day. Both fruits and vegetables are great, healthy food choices and contain many valuable nutrients that can only be found in plant foods, so we recommend keeping the focus on variety - you don’t need to be too focused on the ratio you eat on a daily basis because if you’re eating an average of 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, over the course of the week you should be getting a healthy mix of nutrients.

Q. Can I eat more than 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day?
A.
Exceeding 9 servings in a day is great as long as you’re eating a well rounded diet (whole grains, proteins, healthy fats.) In fact, depending upon your age, gender and physical activity level, more than 9 servings may be recommended (click HERE to see a summary of the USDA’s recommended daily servings.) Also, if you’re obtaining your main protein and healthy fat sources from plant-based foods, more than 9 servings of fruits and vegetables will most likely be needed.

Q. What are the best vegetables to eat?
A.
The most important thing is to think “variety” when selecting your vegetables for the day or week. Some vegetables are more nutrient-dense than others and therefore you can try to include these more often in your diet and usually the darker the better. Great choices are dark leafy greens such as watercress, swiss chard, spinach and collard, mustard & turnip greens; dark green vegetables, members of the cruciferous or cabbage family such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and bok choy; orange and red vegetables, and legumes, i.e. navy beans, kidney beans, black beans. As a general rule the deeper or darker the color, the more nutrients and antioxidants that vegetable will contain. For example, butternut squash is more nutrient-rich than yellow squash.

Q. What are the best fruits to eat?
A.
The same thing holds true for eating fruits as does eating vegetables – variety is the key and generally the darker the skin, the more nutrients and antioxidants that fruit will contain. For example, a red apple has more antioxidants in its skin than a yellow apple. So if given a choice, choose red/pink grapefruit over yellow, or purple/red grapes over green. Berries, citrus fruits and melons are highly nutritious fruit categories and individual powerhouse fruits are: cantaloupe, avocado, papaya, guava, mangoes, and kiwi. So remember, chose a variety of fruits in a variety of color - what one fruit may be lacking can be made up by eating a different one.

Q. Are canned fruits and vegetables just as good as fresh?
A.
Ideally you want to eat fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables whenever possible but canned fruits and vegetables can be a healthy alternative. Just make sure you select canned fruits that are not packaged in “heavy syrup” – the syrup is basically added sugar – and sugar contains absolutely no nutrients but adds many calories. Purchase canned vegetables that are low in sodium. Rinsing canned beans before eating will reduce sodium by 50%, and always drain the canned liquid that comes with vegetables. NOTE: Look for products that have BPA-free can linings to avoid exposing yourself to potentially harmful chemicals.

Q. Should I limit the amount of dried fruit I eat?
A.
It’s best to limit dried fruits to ¼ cup per day because of the high concentration of natural sugars – they contain about four times the amount of sugars and calories per ounce as their fresh counterparts. Avoid dried fruits that contain added sugars and sweeteners. Choosing the fresh version of the fruit is always best, but snacking on a small amount of dried fruit for variation is a good alternative.