I can do better. I’ll come up with a more creative title. Someday.
Some months ago I found an article in one of those trashy celebrity sites (now you’re gonna pretend you never read those?) and the headline said something like ZOMG JENNIFER ANISTON REVEALS SUPER DIET SECRET. Not exactly but might as well considering journalism is pretty much dead. Anyway, it was one more of hundreds of articles that promise the answer to everyone’s prayers, the revealing of the mystical elixir of youth– and skinniness. So of course I read it!
Her secret diet? She eats colorful meals.
I facepalmed and rolled my eyes so hard they almost fell out of their sockets, but not because the advice was stupid. It was because groan why did this information have to be released as celebrity news, thus completely stripping it of any credibility? Looking at it on the bright side, maybe the article helped some people change their eating habits for the better by sheer aspiration to be perceived as desirable as Aniston. Har.
Jennifer Aniston aside, I learned about colorful meals a long time ago through my reiki teacher, who also happens to be a naturopath, herbologist and a medical doctor. The logic behind this idea is actually quite simple: Every food’s color is determined by the nutrient they mostly consist of. So, by eating a bit of every color found in nature each day you’re guaranteeing your body is receiving the widest variety of nutrients.
I laugh sometimes (and by laugh I mean I want to cry) when I see how unnecessarily complicated some people make nutrition seem. The bookstore is full of books in which the authors figured how to make money off of you and me, and we fall for it every time. Think about it: If it was absolutely necessary that we carry around our kitchen scale, calculate our intakes like a witch’s potion, avoid entire food groups, and count calories until our head explodes, then humanity never would have made it this far. None of it is sustainable for the course of an entire lifetime.
Of course nutrition is a science (and a fascinating one, too!) and it’s full of awesome complexities, chemical reactions, hormonal releases and even psychological aspects. It is true that when there is a specific goal at hand (say, shaving off a fraction of a second in how fast an Olympic runner runs 100 m.) the elaborate details in the diet are of mayor importance, but it is also true that the act of eating normally, for everyday sustenance and health, is in no way difficult– and it was never meant to be.
If you’re thinking that by ‘colors’ I mean you can down a packet of Sweetarts and call it a day, you’re doing it wrong. These colors must come from wholesome foods: Foods that grow/exist on their own in nature with no human intervention. GASP. There is an amazing world of food out there, and sadly we have limited ourselves to a very small spectrum. Our choices aren’t always what our body needs, and we suffer because of it in the form of disease, lethargy and excessive weight. Changing this doesn’t have to be difficult.
And now, I will share with you the list of foods by color that I use myself as a reminder of some of the options there are available. Because I’m awesome. WHO LOVES YOU.
Simply click on the picture and you’ll be able to print it.
Obviously depending on your area and availability some of these items will be more difficult to find than others. Stick to what is affordable and readily accessible to you. Remember, easy does it. For example, if some fresh fruit is off-season and very expensive at the moment, maybe consider using frozen fruit instead. I do use frozen fruits and veggies when prices are too hacked up here (usually in the middle of the cold, dead winter), but I generally steer away from canned stuff. Do whatever works for you. Also, feel free to add or delete items from the list above to your liking– make this yours.
And because I know it can take a bit of time to get used to new habits, here’s a little something to help you along the way. Print the following chart and simply write down by day the foods you’ve had so far. It’s a great way to see which color is the most evasive in your diet, and so you can focus on consuming a bit more of that.
For example, yesterday I ate
Smoothie: Blueberries, strawberries, cherries, blackberries, pomegranate, flaxseed.
Hot cereal: Bob’s Red Mill mix with corn, wheat and buckwheat; almond milk, almonds and walnuts added to it.
Lunch: Chickpea soup (tomatoes, ginger, yellow onion), and avocado sandwich in whole wheat bread.
Dinner: Green salad (spinach, lettuce, beet greens, arugula), vegetable cream soup (carrots, potatoes, red onion, leeks, zucchini, almond milk), shrimp.
So my chart for yesterday would look something like this:
It isn’t necessary to write down every. single. thing. you eat, though you can certainly be as detailed as you want. I mostly conform with writing one item per color even if I ate more, just to know that I’ve had something in that color for the day. As you see, yesterday I didn’t have anything black so today I’ll remember to add some raisins to my cereal.
Bonus? This chart is awesome for kids, too. It’s like a game, the challenge of getting one in every color by the end of the day! Even better when they get to pick and choose from the list what it is they like to eat. Involvement never hurt ’em.
I find that starting my day with a fruit smoothie not only guarantees that I consume a whole lotta colors right off the bat, but it also gives me that extra humpf of energy. Plus they’re delicious.
And now you’re ready, my little grasshopper, to take charge of your beautiful body and treat it like it deserves. Go on and make me proud.