Which Are the Most Appetizing Colors in Children's Food?

The most appetizing colors in children's food are a tool to stimulate their appetite and the acceptance of new flavors. Learn more.
Which Are the Most Appetizing Colors in Children's Food?

Last update: 28 June, 2023

It’s normal to feel worried when our children have no appetite. Therefore, we start looking for thousands of ways to get them to eat, often with unsuccessful results. Fortunately, there are some strategies that, although not new, are little known. One of them is to use appetizing colors in children’s food to awaken their appetite and teach them to eat.

What’s the basis of this technique, how does it work, and what’s its advantage in children’s feeding? These questions are just some of the points we’ll address in the following article. Keep reading and you’ll see how the colors red, green, or yellow can affect the acceptance or rejection of food, especially in the youngest members of the household.

Food colors, sensations, and emotions

When a food is consumed, thousands of sensations are perceived through the senses. Taste, texture, appearance, smell, and color, as a whole, produce a series of emotions that condition its acceptance or rejection.

But of all the stimuli, color is the one that has the greatest effect on emotions and influences other perceptions. It’s capable of stimulating or depressing and making us happy or sad. Some arouse active sensations and others passive, but in the end, they affect the perception of food.

For example, studies have looked at how vision directly affects taste and smell. This is reported in an article in the journal Brain and Cognition. This article states that “we eat with our eyes” and all visual elements, including color, influence taste appreciation. For that reason, they also affect appetite.

Likewise, Appetite magazine shows a work developed by Piqueras and Spence where they also highlight that the color of food and drinks is the most important visual characteristic related to taste and appetite.

Which colors stimulate hunger and which do not?

An article published in the magazine Just Agriculture in 2022, which deals with the psychology of colors in food, explains that our brain tends to react differently to colors. Color even gives the brain a signal of how a certain food tastes.

They also say that the visual perception of taste begins in childhood and increases as we grow up. The truth is that each color has its own psychology, which will influence the selection or rejection of certain foods or food products. Let’s see what is the meaning of each one of them:

  • Red: This is one of the most striking colors in food. When seen, it stimulates the taste buds and appetite.
  • Blue: This inspires freshness, cleanliness, and relaxation. However, it’s not one of the most appetizing colors.
  • Green: This is the color of nature. It’s associated with freshness, natural, and healthy food. It stimulates appetite.
  • Yellow: This is the color of happiness and positivism. It’s among the most appetizing colors.
  • Orange: Being a mixture of red and yellow, it also stimulates appetite.
  • Black: This color reduces appetite because it’s associated with bitterness.
  • Brown: This color is an appetite stimulant, as it’s related to healthiness and warmth.
  • Purple: This a color that produces emotions similar to those of blue, that is, it’s not among the most appetizing colors.
A colorful plate of food.
A plate full of colorful food can awaken your child’s appetite.

As we’ve seen, color is a characteristic integrated into the taste and smell of food. Therefore, it has a marked influence on appetite. Depending on the color, which foods stimulate appetite and which do not? Let’s see below.

Foods for children with the most appetizing colors

In this group, we find red foods, such as cherries, tomatoes, watermelons, and red peppers. Yellows and oranges, such as pumpkin, carrots, pumpkin, orange, pineapple, tangerine, mango, peach, and banana are also part of this group.

Other foods that can stimulate appetite are green vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage, chard, and asparagus. Foods and preparations such as baked bread, cakes, cookies, and gratins, stand out for a brown color typical of baking that stimulates appetite.

Foods that don’t stimulate appetite

Blue or purple foods fall into this category. Such is the case of eggplant, blueberries, purple grapes, fresh and dried figs, blackberries, and blue tomatoes.

Raisins, black beans, black rice, cocoa or dark chocolate and black olives have a blackened color that can cause rejection to their consumption. To combine all these foods so that your little one can enjoy their food, you can incorporate games and playfulness.

A colorful game to teach children to eat

During the first years of age, children discover their environment by activating their senses. So, you can take advantage of this condition and use it to teach them to eat. The rainbow color game is a good alternative.

For example, the most difficult foods to introduce to them are vegetables, greens, and fruits. Because they have a wide range of brightly colored pigments, what you should do is separate them according to the colors of the rainbow.

By grouping foods by color, you teach your children to relate each color to the power it has to nourish them, just as if they were superheroes! This way, they can be motivated to eat them.

Here are some examples of food groups according to color and their nutritional powers.


Tomato, strawberry, paprika, watermelon, beet, cherry, pomegranate, and others are in this group. They provide anthocyanins, which protect the body from oxidation, and lycopene, which helps them to have a healthy heart.

Orange and yellow

In this group, we include carrots, oranges, tangerines, pineapple, mango, pumpkin, corn, and bananas, among others. They contain vitamin A, which empowers their eyesight to see better, and vitamin C, which increases your defenses to fight disease.


Here we find chard, spinach, broccoli, zucchini, asparagus, peas, cabbage, and lettuce, among others. They contain vitamins A and C that work as antioxidants and boost the body’s defenses, as well as vitamin K, which helps strengthen bones. Likewise, the fiber present in them allows children to digest food better.

Blue and purple

Eggplant, blueberries, blackberries, purple onions, grapes, purple cabbage, and plums, among others, have antioxidants that will keep them young for longer, in addition to promoting the health of the heart.


Although it’s not part of the rainbow, it should be noted that onions, mushrooms, potatoes, pears, leeks, and cauliflower, among others, contain fiber, and this helps them to keep their stomach healthy.

A mother and daughter sitting at the table eating colorful fruits and vegetables.
This game can make your little one eat a healthy and varied diet.

The perception of colors in children’s food

A study published in the journal Food Quality and Preference published in 2018, agreed that the more colors in children’s diets, the greater the acceptance of food. However, it’s not only the food that influences their perception but also the presentation of the food, including the dishes on which it’s served.

It was found that children under 10 years old chose dishes with the most appealing colors, such as yellow, green, red, or blue. While those older than 10 were more inclined to choose white or black plates.

Another interesting finding is that food served on colorful plates increased the taste acceptance of new foods in young children.

More work in this area, such as that reported in the International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management in 2019 indicates that brighter and more saturated colors were more effective in children for taste acceptance and food preferences.

The good news for parents and caregivers is that the use of colors in feeding children and the presentation of food on colorful plates is an effective strategy to increase appetite and acceptance of new flavors. It also prevents them from suffering from picky eating disorder.

The trick is to make feeding a rainbow of colors and flavors

As a result, the use of appetizing colors in children’s feeding is a powerful strategy to increase appetite and taste acceptance in our children’s new preparations.

One effective way is to combine bright, intense colors, such as red, orange, and purple, with others that may not be as appealing. For example, mixing dark-colored raisins with strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries in a salad will improve their acceptance.

Another option is to make brightly colored drinks, such as carrot juice, and add some foods that are a source of the nutrients we need to supplement. For example, add chia or flaxseed, as a source of omega-3.

And, if we serve the food on colorful dishes, we’ll have greater success!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.