Do You Have All The Colors On Your Plate?

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We all have come to the point where we promise to eat healthy and follow a diet plan. Have you ever heard of “Rainbow eating”? Let’s elaborate further.

Rainbow eating, or having a rainbow of different colors in the foods we eat means to incorporate food items representing all the seven colors of the rainbow in our diet. So, if you think colorful food is appealing to the eye, you should also observe on the diet chart that color means more than just eye appeal, it also means antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, all sorts of nutrients that we need to have. Amidst the race to healthy eating, people often assume that beige, bland-looking foods are nutritious. Yes, oatmeal and grains are good for us, but they are not healthy just because they are no fun to look at. A colorful diet is as packed with nutrition as any beige-looking diet can be, in fact beige is also another color among the many colors of the rainbow. So, take it to heart, your food can be rich in red or bold in blue, lustrous with green or white like soft icing and still hold all the health benefits you need.

Colors, aside and apart from eye appeal, are phytochemicals of plants which are rich in specific compounds which are healthy for human cells. The green color signifies a high chlorophyll content while yellow and orange come from the carotene compound in them, Purple and blue colors have phenolic compounds and ellagic acid while the color red signifies foods rich in carotene as well as anthocyanins and flavonoids. All these scientific names are phytochemicals, which means color-pigmented chemicals which have immensely beneficial effects on the human health system. These are often found in the natural composition of vegetables, fruits, and herbal spices. Incorporating such food items in the menu thus maintains the daily supply of nutrients which we miss in going after monochromatic food.

It is like food fashion happening on your plate every day

Rainbow eating doesn’t mean requiring all seven colors with every meal. It is just a metaphoric way of telling you that colorful foods are a good way of obtaining the nutrients your body needs. So you can decide what color varieties to put on your plate to make it more nutritious, and appealing. And if you are thinking there is only eggplant for purple and lettuce for green, or carrots and beans for the rest, then no. You don’t even have to repeat all the colors of the rainbow every day. There are different shades and color mixtures available to get you the multi-colored diet you need. Nature is an abundant supplier, with a variety of color options available. One day can be good for cherries, the next day for strawberries, it can be pistachio green or spinach green, orangey orange or carrot-like, any array of colors on the chart and you can get complementing food for it.

Coloring a plate doesn’t come from a fast food procession, however. Artificial coloring is not going to help you one bit. Most processed food, including vegetables, spices, even the vitamin gummies, are dyed with artificial colors. They claim that these are edible colors, but edible is not always healthy! So before bringing home a variety of colorful picks from the supermarket, check out the labels. Artificial dyes are used to make naturally colored foods (veggies and fruits etc.) hold their color to look fresh after prolonged exposure – that is why they look ever-green in the market! So one needs to be extra careful while picking them, or cleaning them at home before eating.

Another wrong concept about rainbow eating is that people tend to think it’s a plate full of only colorful veggies or fruits. Because there is so much commentary about health, diet, nutrition, and natural foods, it is inevitable that people picture the right approach to be a plate full of freshly picked raw veggies or fruits. But it is not so, putting a rainbow diet on your plate also means eating cooked meals: eggs and meat, spices, dried fruits, etc. can turn your plate into a colorful occasion. Take for example a curry. What makes the curry so appealing, apart from its vegetables? Of course, the spices. Turmeric, chilies, cumin, coriander, pepper, saffron, and what not. Turmeric, saffron, and chilies are natural food coloring agents, but more than their coloring properties, they are rich in herbal benefits and are good sources of antioxidants, minerals, and other healing effects. Using a bit of them to bring joyful color in your otherwise plain food can attract the eye, satisfy the palate, and benefit your health, all at once.

Your plate can be a place for baked items, too, but make sure the nutrients are not baked away. And let’s not avoid chocolates here: the darkness of coca, unless you are super conscious about calories, in fact is rich in antioxidants, the same thing your tomatoes or berries contain. But they also contain fat. So chocolates can be just a way of adding delight to your final bite rather than a compulsory diet portion on the plate.

Rainbow eating can be very helpful if you have kids in your home. For parents, it is a real challenge to make kids eat what they want them to eat. A colorful presentation of food, cut in different shapes, can entice children to enjoy their meal, which otherwise kids neglect. It is another way of introducing different colors and food names to the kids. It works both ways, using colors to identify vegetables or vegetables to identify colors.

Color can also give a boost to creativity. The availability of foods of various colors influences you in assembling, designing, and presenting them creatively. It is a way to help you to exercise your brain with something you know, but have not tried often.

Overall, a rainbow diet is wake-up call to help people incorporate as much variety of natural food color as possible to maintain the right nutrient supply for the body. Many researchers think it is a pre-mature concept, and there is no scientific way of saying how much of what color should be included in a meal. But a rainbow diet can’t have any adverse effects. So make sure to have all the colors on your plate, because a colorful plate is an attractive way to convince your body to eat what it needs to eat.

Meanwhile, let’s remember the spices, keeping in mind that spices and spicy food are not the same thing. If you are adding jalapeno to increase the heat of your sauce or dip, then that’s a different thing, but the right amount of natural green and dried chilies (not the red dyed chili powder) have positive effects on the digestive system. It is healthy to eat chilies, if taken in the right amount.

If you are pleased with yourself for eating vegetables in the form of French fries, well then you are eating a pinch of potato squeezed into a solution of fat, not even the first degree of pure fat, but rancid and over used.

Photos: Shutterstock

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