The easiest way to guide anyone in creating a healthy diet is to simply choose colorful food. It is no coincidence that Mother Nature provides a full spectrum of colorful fruits and vegetables, each possessing its own combination of vitamins, minerals and fiber at our disposal. In short, it makes sense that we need to consume a rainbow of colors to meet all of our nutritional needs.
Benefits of eating 5-8 colors of fruits and vegetables each day
- Control your sugar consumption. By adding in more color, you will crowd out sugary snacks and processed foods. For example, instead of ice cream, choose plain yogurt, strawberries and blueberries; instead of cookies or chips, choose cut-up yellow, red and green bell peppers with hummus; instead of French fries, choose a salad, or carrots and guacamole.
- Strengthen your immunity and improve your energy. We need to eat vegetables several times each day in order to keep up with our bodies’ need for water soluble vitamin C, and the B vitamins. Since these vitamins cannot be produced by the body or stored for very long, they are called “essential nutrients,” which is why US government guidelines recommend that adults consume at least 2-2 ½ cups daily. We can survive with the minimum, but we cannot truly thrive without eating a generous helping on our plates.
- Detoxify and improve digestion. The fiber in fruits and vegetables naturally and efficiently moves your waste through your system. Cooked vegetables and leafy greens, such as kale, collards, bok choy and chard in particular, will make a noticeable difference within a day or two.
- Lose weight more easily. Vegetables have the highest density of nutrients and the lowest number of calories compared to fats, proteins and grains, making it vital that they be well represented in everyone’s diet, especially for weight loss. For example, instead of pasta, pizza or a burger, choose a stir-fry of broccoli, purple onions and cabbage with black beans and rice; or roasted Brussel sprouts, carrots and cauliflower with quinoa and fish.
- Children can easily embrace the concept. Instead of struggling with your kids to make better food choices or finish their vegetables, make it a family game to count your colors every day. Fun food for kids can include celery and low-calorie dips; sliced apples and almond butter; roasted acorn squash with cinnamon on top; homemade fruit juice popsicles.
- Menu-planning or spontaneous eating that always includes a few colors is easy to remember and a challenge that anyone can implement! If you need more help fitting it all in, or getting the food from pan to plate, ask me about a one-time cooking inspiration appointment here.