Rainbows make me so happy. To me they have always represented hope and brought reassurance that everything is going to work out ?My favorite candy slogan is definite from Skittles…”Taste the rainbow”. Just the thought of easting a rainbow brings with it a sense of fun and adventure.
With such good connotations attached to rainbows, there is no need to wait for rainy days to see them. Why not create rainbows on your plate???
I think this has got to be one of the most fun and creative changes I have made to me diet over the last few years. So, what do I mean by creating rainbows on your plate?
I am talking about eating foods rich in color, a variety of color. And no, unfortunately I do not mean colorful foods like skittles and M&M’s. I am talking about the variety of wonderfully colored whole foods we find in nature.
We can classify all plant foods into 6 color categories:
Our goal should be to eat at least 2 foods from each category each day. This may seem like a lot, but it becomes super easy when you incorporate a variety of color into your smoothies or salads.
So why is it important to eat color?
Plants contain substances called Phytonutrients or phytochemicals. These substances are what give the plant their color. The richer the color the higher the phytonutrient content is.
Phytonutrients are what you could call the plants immune system. They protect plants from damage done by bacteria and disease as well as from outside factors like wind, rain and bugs. The incredible thing is that when we eat plants high in phytonutrients, we receive the same protective benefits from them. There are thousands of different phytonutrients known to us and each has a different protective benefit on the body therefore incorporating a variety of them into your diet is important to keep us healthy.
It is also a good idea to vary the foods within each color category. If you are used to eating spinach, try mixing it up with some Kale. If you eat a lot of tomatoes, try getting some phytonutrients from red bell peppers, etc. One easy way to incorporate variety is to try one new food each week that you have not had before or have not had in a very long time.
RED foods have protective benefits associated with IMMUNE HEALTH
ORANGE foods are associated with REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH
YELLOW foods are for DIGESTIVE HEALTH
GREEN foods improve CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
BLUE/PURPLE foods benefit BRAIN HEALTH AND COGNITIVE FUNCTION
One of the biggest reasons to choose organic produce over nonorganic is due to phytonutrients. Because organic produce has not been grown with a bunch of chemical pesticides to protect it, it has to increase its phytonutrient content in order to protect itself. So not only does organic produce contain less chemicals, but the food itself is healthier, providing your body with more beneficial substances than non-organic food.
A helpful way to keep track of what colors you need to eat can be to keep a color category chart on your fridge and every meal you are preparing, take a look at the color chart and see if you have added every color or as many as you can to that meal. Another way is to keep a meal tracker on the fridge or using a mobile app. Every meal you have, tick off the colors it had. At dinner time tally up how many colors you have eaten and note if there is any category that you have no eaten and make sure to incorporate it into dinner. Remember, we need to have at least one of each color every day, but ideally should strive for 2 or more
Easy ways to eat the rainbow
- Make colorful salads: Toss in a mix of whatever fruit and veg you have laying around the house.
- Green – Mixed greens, celery, cucumber
- Red – Tomatoes, strawberries, radish
- Orange – Carrots, Orange bell pepper
- Yellow – Pineapple, nutritional yeast, Yellow bell pepper
- Blue/purple – Grated beets, blueberries, raisins
- White/tan/brown – Nuts and seed mix, coconut amino dressing
2. Smoothies and smoothie bowls: You can get so creative and change up the flavor everyday
⦁ Green – Handful of spinach
⦁ Red – Strawberries, raspberries
⦁ Orange – Turmeric root, carrot
⦁ Yellow – Banana, ginger root, bee pollen
⦁ Blue/purple – Blue berries, blackberries
⦁ White/tan/brown – almond milk, chia seeds, flax seeds, nut butter
⦁ Add in some plant based vanilla protein powder for added flavor and protein.
3. Spice up your tea and coffee: Add cinnamon to your coffee or try substituting one cup of daily coffee for green tea – bonus if its matcha. Here is one of my favorite substitutes
⦁ Matcha tea
⦁ Almond milk
⦁ Dash of cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric
Through this simple substitution you have taken a plane cup of coffee and exchanged it with a drink that incorporates 4 phytonutrient color categories
4. Dice up a variety of colorful veggies and add it to your scrambled eggs
⦁ Mixed bell peppers
⦁ Spinach and kale
⦁ Red onion and garlic
5. Make the most of nuts, seeds, and spices: Play around with spices and get creative. Add nutmeg to your cereal, sprinkle turmeric and thyme on your roasted cauliflower, put a dash of cinnamon on sweet potato. Think of adding roasted sunflower seeds or almond slices to sautéed spinach with a bit of smoked paprika. Sprinkle ground flax onto eggs.
There are a variety of ways to make any meal healthier and increases its phytonutrient content.
If you would like more ideas on how to eat the rainbow without adding stress or a ton of planning into what I am sure is an already very busy schedule for you, reach out to me for a free discovery call and together we can use color to unleash and UNLIMITED YOU! I can help you take the confusion and intimidation out of eating healthy. Lets keep it clean, simple and convenient
Recommended reading – The rainbow diet: A holistic approach to radiant health by Dr Deanna Minich