There are a variety of ailments or chronic deficiencies many people might have and may not even know it.
For some, it can be a noticeable sluggishness, a slow-to-heal injury, or other small differences that may cause them to turn to an extra shot of espresso or find a special ointment for topical use. But a lot of times such ailments are signs of something lacking in the diet.
Merely taking the time to ensure a balanced diet is consumed every day can be the first step to correcting these issues in a healthy and holistic way, and eating the rainbow is one easy method for achieving just that.
What is "Eating the Rainbow"?
The idea of eating the rainbow is you make it a goal to eat something from each of the color groups identified: red, orange/yellow, green, purple/blue, and white.
The foods selected should be some form of a fruit or vegetable. Especially if you are sure to not eat the same foods for each color everyday, making yourself stick to a pattern like this one will help you to eat a wide variety of different nutrients as these foods have different colors due to various nutritional components within them.
You may get to the end of the day and realize you didn't eat a certain color. In that case, you will know what kind of quick snack your body needs. With time, you will likely see an overall improvement in your health - especially if you never realized you had been missing out on certain colors on most days.
The Colors and Their Benefits
While some nutritionists might advocate for six different categories, most often you will see the five colors.
This example will focus on the five broad categories. Here is a breakdown of each color, what benefits each contains, and some examples of how you can get the benefits of eating the rainbow:
Red: The food color red is often affiliated with anthocyanin and lycopene; therefore, these foods are useful in preventing various diseases as well as improving the health of the eyes, heart, and urinary function.
There is also evidence that red foods help with cell renewal, protecting the skin, and decreasing blood pressure. Some good examples of red foods include beets, grapes, pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, and watermelon.
Orange/Yellow: The food colors orange or yellow are known to have beta carotenes that attribute to their coloring. This group contributes to healthy eyes, skin, and immune system function as well as heart benefits, joint and tissue support, and lowering cholesterol.
This large category contains a variety of textures such as bell peppers, butternut squash, cantaloupe, carrots, citrus, corn, mangoes, and sweet potatoes.
Green: The green category of food is known for containing indoles and lutein. These foods are believed to help lower the risk of certain cancers, aid in digestion and bone health, and help improve eye health and immune system function.
For this category, look for foods like asparagus, avocado, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kiwi, melon, peas, and spinach.
Blue/Purple: The combined blue and purple category contains anthocyanins and flavonoids which contribute to its hue. These contents are useful in assisting urinary, bone, and immune system health as well as improving cognitive function like memory, fighting aging, and assisting with blood vessel maintenance.
Some foods you can eat from this color category would include certain beets, blackberries, blueberries, concord grapes, eggplant, purple cabbage, and purple potatoes.
White: Although you may not think of white as a color in the rainbow, technically white light is all of the colors - and it is an important color to not leave off of eating the rainbow of foods. White foods are affiliated with allyl sulfides and therefore eating these kinds of foods can help heart, immune system, and lymph health.
They can also help to prevent ulcers, support colon function, and lower cholesterol. Foods from this category would include bananas (although their skins are yellow), beans, cauliflower, garlic, mushrooms, ginger, onions, pears, turnips, white asparagus, white potatoes.
As you can see, by playing a simple and little game to keep yourself eating a wide array of foods, you will not only remember to diversify your meal plan but have a fun time ensuring you get every color every day.
If you believe you may be deficient in a certain kind of nutrient, you can particularly emphasize the category or the foods that contain those nutrients at least until your deficiency has improved.
For more support on how to use this holistic method of healthy eating and maintenance, there are a variety of resources you can turn to such as by working with a Holistic Nutritionist.
Getting Help With Eating the Rainbow
There are many sources online that can help you find the foods you need, know what those foods contain, and learn how various nutrients will help you. It is also always a good idea to consult with your doctor or another specialist before making any drastic changes in your diet or lifestyle, including medications.
Working with someone knowledgeable with different diets and nutritional topics will ensure you use this method to help heal and maintain yourself in a good state, not put yourself at risk in the event you don't realize you're possibly forgetting to include a certain nutrient or perhaps if you are at risk of not meeting caloric needs by focusing on a rainbow diet.
If you work with a Holistic Nutritionist, you will be able to evaluate the full spectrum of foods your eating and how they are supporting your diet nutritionally. You may even want to work with them to craft a meal plan.
Some holistic health programs may include physical therapy in conjunction with testing for nutritional deficiencies. This testing can be useful to track the improvements over time with your levels of nutrients, helping you to identify which elements you may be lacking and which you may get adequate if not excessive amounts in your diet.
Some Recipes to Get You Started
While it is simple enough to go throughout the day snacking on some carrot sticks here and eating a fruit there, it can also be fun to find recipes that throw all the colors together.
Getting the rainbow into your diet can happen over many settings and not require too much preparation, but incorporating all of the colors at once can be very delicious as well.
Here are a couple of ideas for some dishes you could make that ensure you get your five color categories in a day:
Vegan Stuffed Poblanos: This recipe uses rice and black beans integrated with riced cauliflower, spices, and fresh herbs and vegetables to make a light dish with a variety of colors.
- 4 poblano peppers, or substitute with bell peppers
- Olive oil as needed
- 1/3c red onion or scallions, chopped
- 1c cauliflower, riced into tiny bits
- 1/2c red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2t coriander
- 1/2t cumin
- 1/2t oregano
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1c black beans, prepared
- 1c rice of any kind, cooked
- 3c spinach
- 2T lime juice
- 1/4c tomatillo salsa salt and black pepper to taste
1. Put the oven on preheat to 400F and prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
2. Half the peppers and remove the insides to they are prepared to be stuffed, then line them on the sheet with drizzled oil and dashes of salt and pepper. Roast them for 15 minutes with the cut side facing upwards.
3. Heat up a tablespoon of oil in a skilled on a medium heat setting. Cook to soften the onion, cauliflower, and red pepper along with the coriander, cumin, oregano, garlic, about 1/2t of salt, and black pepper. It should take about 5 to 8 minutes.
4. Removing the pan from heat, stir in the beans, rice, salsa, lime juice, and spinach, then adjust the seasoning as needed. Stuff the peppers with this filling and bake for 15 more minutes.
5. When finished, serve with any toppings you'd like, such as a cashew crema, cilantro, tomatoes, extra limes, or even cheese.
Rainbow Fruit Salad
Here is a very simple way to get all of your colors through a quick fruit salad. Merely chop up a variety of vegetables that suit you from each list of colors and combine in a bowl.
Portion it to however much you want your serving to be:
- Reds: strawberries, raspberries, pomegranates
- Oranges/Yellows: oranges, pineapple, tangerines
- Greens: grapes, kiwis, honeydew melon
- Blues/Purples: blueberries, mulberries, black raspberries
- Whites: apples, bananas, pears
Rainbow Vegetable Salad
Likewise, it is easy to make a rainbow salad cut into slaw-like strips and tossed in your favorite dressing.
As with the fruit salad, you can find what ingredients you have that fit the categories, prepare the pieces, then throw them together with some dressing.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Reds: radicchio, tomatoes, red bell peppers
- Oranges/Yellows: sweet potatoes, orange or yellow bell peppers, carrots
- Greens: spinach, most lettuces, kale
- Blues/Purples: purple cabbage, beets, purple potatoes
- Whites: white potatoes, white corn, jicama
Eating the rainbow doesn't have to be a challenging thing.
In fact, it can be a delicious task!
Enjoy reaping the benefits of eating the rainbow.
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