By Blair Doucette, MScN
Somewhere along the way, eating healthy has gotten the reputation for being difficult and a little expensive. I can see why the rumor has been sustained: large grocery corporations and pricey health food stores have found that they can make a pretty penny off of the confusion. Mix in some fancy marketing and the constant race to find the world’s next expensive superfood is on - and the prices are rising! In reality, eating a nutritious diet is actually quite easy and doesn’t have to cost much more than the average grocery bill. The key is to eat local (which conveniently guarantees that you’re more likely to eat food that is in season and fresh), simplify (focus your diet on single-sourced ingredients rather than processed items), and eat foods across the color spectrum to guarantee diversity.
All naturally grown food items have health-giving benefits. In fact, I believe that, for the most part, food can be used as medicine and should be seen as the first line of defense in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Looking at produce, you can see that it gets its coloring from a variety of different phytochemicals that are present in the genetic makeup of the food. These phytochemicals offer different nutrients when consumed - like little packets of medicine! For example, red and pink foods contain lycopene, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body counteract the negative side-effects of free radicals, which cause cellular damage, and helps prevent blood clotting. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that gets converted into vitamin A in the body, which is then used to promote eye, skin, and muscle health. And lastly, vitamin C is essential for all tissue growth and repair. All of these nutrients are essential to healthy living, but they’re definitely not enough by themselves. When we focus on simply eating foods from the entire rainbow color spectrum, we basically ensure that we’re getting a complete and diverse group of nutrients. This strategy takes away the guessing game and makes eating a variety of fresh and healthful foods easy.
Easy Tips for Eating the Rainbow:
- Start with breakfast. Opt for a fresh smoothie or a hardy slice of toast with all your favorite toppings: smashed avocado, soft-boiled egg, sliced radishes, chopped peppers, etc.
- Challenge yourself to a full rainbow meal. This could be a fun task for kids to do to help with the dinner process. See if they can come up with toppings of every color for a pizza!
- Stir-frys are a great way to use up the leftover produce from last week’s farmer’s market as well as incorporate lots of colors into one meal.
What’s your favorite way to eat the rainbow?
Blair Doucette, MScN is a Holistic Nutritionist and Farm Hand at Woodside Farms and will be teaching classes and offering Nutrition Coaching in the coming months. Blair holds a masters degree in Nutrition and a bachelors degree in Environmental Policy and Anthropology. She is passionate about community development, sustainable agriculture, and nutrition.