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What is a Rainbow Plate?

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Whether you've been following us for a while or have just joined, we thought it might be a good idea to answer this question!

So, what is a Rainbow Plate? It’s simply any plate or dish of food that includes any fruit or vegetables in any colour! 

We want everyone to feel good about eating, and we’re on a mission to make healthier eating simple and fun! We wanted to make it clear that there’s no “right” amount, type or colours of fruits and vegetables required to make your plate a Rainbow Plate. The idea is to look for and celebrate however many colours you’re eating, and to find a simple way to help everyone add more of these yummy and healthy foods to their plates every day!

 A Rainbow Plate might look like the one above, with lots of different foods in a whole rainbow of different colours. But, a Rainbow Plate might also be a plate like this one:

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with one or two colourful veggies or fruit included as part of a simple meal or snack. They’re both equally awesome! 

We know that everyone’s plate looks different. What ends up on our plate is influenced by so many different things, including: where we live, our budget, our culture, the seasons, our personal preferences, and our family’s traditions. Eating plenty of vegetables and fruit every day is a guideline that’s widely recommended and proven to be good for your health at any age.  Creating a Rainbow Plate every time you eat is a simple and fun way to do it! We use this rhyme in our work to help inspire and and remind kids to embrace this idea:

“Rainbow Plate, Rainbow Plate, tell me the COLOURS that you ate!”

We’d love to see YOUR Rainbow Plate! As you prepare your meals or snacks, think about how to add a bit more colour to your plate. Keep it simple - think about what’s in season or what fruits and veggies are on sale this week where you shop.  Frozen or canned produce is great too, just stick to items without added sugar or salt.

Post a photo of your Rainbow Plate on your Instagram or Facebook page with the hashtag #myrainbowplate. Don’t forget to tag us @rainbowplate! Tag a friend who would love to add more colour to their meals too!




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Canada's New Food Guide is here!

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Canada's New Food Guide is here!

It’s finally here!! After years of waiting, Canada’s new Food Guide was revealed this morning in a live broadcast from Montreal’s Jean Talon Market (one of my favourite places!) The new Guide reflects a shift away from the old rainbow image with food groups and prescribed portions of foods. It includes a simple graphic and guidelines that emphasize variety and proportion, and an overall “real-world” approach to everyday eating. The reviews so far have been positive. Personally, I’m over the moon.

For starters, the new graphic clearly looks like a Rainbow Plate! The message is to load up your plate with colourful vegetables and fruit (sound familiar?!!) and to round it out with whole grains and “protein foods,” emphasizing plant based sources. Meat and dairy are still there (as they should be), but there are lots of other options which reflect the dietary reality of our culturally diverse population, as well as a sustainable and affordable way of eating. There will be much discussion and dissection of the fine details in the days and months ahead, but I think that what we’ve seen so far is simple, practical and easy to understand.

In other highlights, the Guide adds a big focus on the “how” of eating along with the description of “what” to eat. I love that there is a clear mention of food as more than just a source of nutrients, and how “healthy eating is more than the foods you eat.” In her introductory remarks, Minister of Health Ginette Petitpas Taylor quoted the late Anthony Bourdain, saying “… food is everything we are.” She shared some personal examples of how food is about culture, family, and sensory memories. Amen to that.

Some of the key points in the “how to eat” content of the guide include:

  • Being mindful of your eating habits: taking the time to eat, noticing if you are hungry or full

  • Cooking more often: plan what you’re going to eat, involving others in planning and preparing meals

  • Enjoying your food! recognize that culture and tradition can and should be a part of healthy eating

  • Eating with others

All of these guidelines reflect factors that are just as important as nutrients when it comes to cultivating lifelong habits that promote health and a positive relationship with food. I’m thrilled to see them articulated so clearly.

I’m a realist and know that most Canadians don’t keep a copy of the guide taped inside their kitchen cupboards for reference before each meal (sorry, Minister Petitpas!) However, this document will drive strategy, policy and publicly funded food education activities for years to come. I think it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Rainbow Plate’s food education programs and resources have always been based on this approach and we have the evidence to show that it makes healthy eating simple, practical and enjoyable for people of all ages. It’s also easy to adapt to keep it accessible and relevant to anyone within our culturally diverse nation. It's so exciting to see that this is finally being officially promoted across our great country!

To see the full content of the new Canada Food Guide click the link and check it out.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Reach out at hello@rainbowplate.com to start a conversation, purchase our Educator Toolkit or book a workshop for your group of educators or health professionals!

Colourfully yours,

Janet

Canada’s Food Guide is a Rainbow Plate!

Canada’s Food Guide is a Rainbow Plate!

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Exciting news!! We're extending the Rainbow's reach!

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Exciting news!! We're extending the Rainbow's reach!

Erika and Molly at our recent focus group

Erika and Molly at our recent focus group

I'm thrilled to share news about a recent collaboration between Rainbow Plate and the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph. This will enable our proven approach to be incorporated by educators and parents everywhere; to engage and inspire many more children to eat fabulous fruits and veggies! The article below was written by Monica Gallant, a recent MSc graduate (pictured above, on the right), who was the recipient of a Special Project Grant from the AFI. We've been working together with Monica and Guelph Nutrition student Erika Pateman (pictured on the left) on this exciting project for the past several months:

Did you know that what you eat is one of the most significant influences on your health for life? If you’re a parent or caregiver of young kids, this means that you have an important job:  to nourish little bodies, and to lay the foundation for a healthy future. Children’s eating habits and food preferences form early on.  They can be firmly entrenched by age five or six! So, how do we inspire and encourage children to eat and enjoy those foods that will make them healthy and strong? Enter Rainbow Plate. 

Rainbow Plate is a social enterprise that creates and delivers evidence-based, interactive food education programs for children, parents, educators and health practitioners.  Their joyful, sensory-based approach steers away from nutrition lectures (which don’t work!) and uses rainbows of real food to spark children’s imaginations, change behaviour and cultivate lifelong healthy eating habits. In short, they encourage people to relax around food, and they make healthy eating simple and fun!

While Rainbow Plate programs have directly reached thousands of children around the Greater Toronto Area since launching in 2012, the founder, Janet Nezon, realized that there was a need to make this simple and impactful approach available to a wider audience.  She recognized that there were few practical resources available for preschool educators, parents and daycare providers working with children in this critical age and stage of development. In collaboration with the University of Guelph’s Arrell Food Institute, Rainbow Plate is on a mission to bring the Rainbow Plate approach to food education to more preschool-age children across Canada by developing a new Rainbow Plate Resource and Toolkit.

This toolkit translates Rainbow Plate’s core principles and proven, innovative approach into key educational tools and compact, single-page activity sheets. Supported by sensory exploration tips and fun facts, these activities are designed to make food literacy education simple to implement and engaging for children and adults alike. Easily adaptable to any classroom or home environment, it is our goal that the activities provided in this resource will make healthy eating simple, colourful and fun!

The toolkit is currently in the testing phase and is expected to launch later this year.

Want to be first in line for updates and the launch of this great resource? Email hello@rainbowplate.com and we'll put you on the list!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sweet thoughts for the end of summer

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Sweet thoughts for the end of summer

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Today I made jam from some late summer concord grapes I had on hand. I cooked them slowly until they burst from their bluey purple skins, then simmered them down until they became a thick, sweet and tangy grapey heaven.  I sealed that jam into two precious jars and put them on my shelf. I’ll open one when I want to remember how today feels.   

Is it possible to bottle this lovely last day of summer? Can you preserve this easy, relaxed pace? The soft breeze and the chirping of crickets. The smell of the garden and the sound of children with nothing to do but play.  Can you take this sweet feeling of peace, and time and space and seal it into a jar, to open and dip into when you need a reminder later this year? 

I hope so.

Sending you and your family my warmest wishes for a peaceful, happy and healthy new school year.

 

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We’re So Confused: The Problems With Food and Exercise Studies   - By Gina Kolata

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We’re So Confused: The Problems With Food and Exercise Studies - By Gina Kolata

I love this article by Gina Kolata in the New York Times. The media are quick to publish the latest health research findings, and to reduce those studies to blanket statements that send people running off after the latest solution to health woes. Let's face it; everyone's looking for a quick fix.  The problem is that research is complicated, and it's pretty tricky drawing a straight line between individual foods, nutrients or behaviours to specific health outcomes.  Things are never as simple as we'd like them to be.  The good news? Relax. What the research does consistently show is that the best approach is to step back and take a "big picture," long term approach to the way you eat and the way you live your life. Don't obsess over individual foods or nutrients.  Eat mostly good stuff; lots of rainbows for sure. Keep the crap to a minimum. Get moving regularly, doing something that makes you happy. That's what works.

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Because It's Good

Isn’t that enough? Think about it. You’re standing in the kitchen, hankering for a meal or snack. Why do you choose to eat what you do?  

Because it’s good.

Because you like it.

Because it appeals to you.

Because it’s easy and it’s available.  

Let’s face it.  We eat what we like, and we like what we know. Most of us tend to eat the same foods pretty regularly. The ones we’re comfortable with, and the ones that we enjoy because they’re delicious, easy and familiar.

So why are we spending all this energy trying to convince kids to eat certain foods because they’re healthy? We sing and dance, and tell kids that veggies are full of vitamins and minerals (what are those anyways??) We tell them they’ll grow up big and strong if they eat this or that (does a 5 year old really care?) We tell them that they can have a cookie if they finish their greens.  It’s no wonder kids turn up their noses at that plate full of broccoli - most of them can smell a sales pitch a mile away.  You know how it feels when you’re being “pitched” - your guard goes up and you’re naturally skeptical about the product. Flat-out pitching often backfires, and it’s no different for your kids.

So relax.

Cook up and serve that broccoli (try this recipe for an irresistible twist.) Put it on the table with dinner, and don’t say a word.  Just eat it and enjoy it.

Because it’s good.

See what happens.

 

 

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The Joy

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Thank you Julie.

Your two simple words brought me to a screeching halt. I looked down at what you wrote on my feedback form, and a soul-warming smile spread through me. I asked you to share what you thought was the best part of the Rainbow Plate workshop I’d just conducted at your school, and you simply wrote, “The Joy!”  

Thank you for telling me that my message is coming through loud and clear.

Thank you for validating what matters most in the work that I do and the way that I do it.

Thank you for bringing me back to why I started this journey in the first place: to inspire a joyful connection between people and food, and to commit myself to work that I am truly proud of.

Thank you for helping me see that following my heart and my passion is making a difference to others.

Thank you for inspiring me to keep at it, because it matters. 

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Just One Word

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Just One Word

Would you say I’m a little late to the party? It’s January 3rd and I haven’t shared a New Year’s post or pronouncement of any sort. For the past few days my inbox and newsfeed have been flooded with sparkly, shiny features from all the “experts” out there. I’ve sat here, curled up in my sweatpants, reading about all the resolutions, goals and changes that everyone else is suggesting or making for the New Year. There are lists galore of the foods I need to eat or avoid in 2016. The recipes I need to cook. The changes I need to make to be healthier—and the 15 things I need to do to get my house and my life organized. Honestly, just reading it all has made me tired.

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If You Do Nothing Else Over The Holidays

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If You Do Nothing Else Over The Holidays

Here's me with my late night garden harvest. I can't believe these luscious green and purple kale leaves lasted till December 27th! #thelittlethings

Here's me with my late night garden harvest. I can't believe these luscious green and purple kale leaves lasted till December 27th! #thelittlethings

We’re all in such high gear these days, aren’t we? Fitting endless tasks into our jam-packed schedules and busy lives. Even if it’s all “good” stuff, there’s only so much we can do well. There's only so much we can really be present for in a meaningful way.

I made myself a promise for the holiday break, and I’m challenging you to do the same. Just. Slow. Down.

For the past week I’ve taken the time to savour slower days. I’m on a lighter schedule, and I’ve really felt the difference. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the people I love; lingering over lazy mornings, casual family meals and lots of memorable moments. I’ve taken the time to really drink in the feelings, the fragrances and the flavours all around me. What does all this reflection have to do with eating well you say? I’ve noticed that all food seems to taste better when I’m relaxed.

I had a huge “to do” list for the break. I'm coming to terms with the fact that many of those items likely won’t get done. It’s ok. I’m happy with what I have accomplished. I’m feeling so much better for having taken the time to shift into lower gear.

I’m determined to hang on to this relaxed pace for the second week of the break. I want to luxuriate in this feeling for the New Year. It's approaching with all its bright and shiny frenzy.

Will I do it? I promise I’ll let you know.

 

 

 

 

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What is a 'Rainbow Plate'?

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What is a 'Rainbow Plate'?

It occurred to me that it was time to answer this simple but important question. Perhaps you’ve just joined us for the first time, or maybe you’ve been following Rainbow Plate since the beginning. Either way, I thought I’d take a minute to talk about the concept that’s behind our name and everything we do.

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Help To Shape An Innovative Nutrition Program

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Help To Shape An Innovative Nutrition Program

Do you work in the community, public health or health promotion setting? Does your role involve program planning and or implementation? 

The Rainbow Food Education Foundation is exploring how we can work directly with Health Practitioners and Educators to train them to deliver the Rainbow Plate approach in their own settings, wherever that may be. We are on mission to connect with Registered Dietitians, Public Health Nurses and Educators in the field who could help us gain more insight into how we can share our approach with this audience. Your expertise and insight into the realities and challenges of program planning, development and facilitation in the community setting will be used to help Rainbow Plate programing grow across the province. Wouldn't it be great if you were a part of that story?

If you are interested in sharing your knowledge or filling out our survey then please contact our Rainbow Food Ambassador Alissa Vieth R.D - alissa.vieth@gmail.com (in picture above!)

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