Five reasons why it’s important to eat the rainbow and fill your plate with a variety of different foods, all year long.
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed I use #EatTheRainbow quite frequently. Truth is, I feel very passionately about eating the rainbow, and no, I’m not talking about those fruit-flavored candies that rhyme with shmittles.
While this topic is certainly not rocket science nor a phrase I came up with on my own, after chatting with my beautiful friend Ali it dawned on me that perhaps not everyone realizes the specific reasons why it’s important to eat a brightly colored diet so I decided to share my thoughts on the subject.
Eating the rainbow is one of the most fundamental rules of proper nutrition that I try to practice on a daily basis. This playful mantra inspires me to eat a variety of foods in a multitude of colors, every single day, every day of the year.
For whatever reasons, I’ve noticed that a lot of people eat a fairly monochromatic diet. In other words, they eat the same 5-10 fruits and vegetables again and again. Perhaps they grew up eating steamed green beans every night at dinner or they simply can’t imagine breakfast without a banana.
While I love bananas and green beans (and eat them both frequently!) I also love Swiss chard, eggplant, and cauliflower. Beyond that, in order to achieve optimal health, it’s important to avoid monochromatic grocery shopping — the type of shopping you could do with your eyes closed because you tend to shop from the same 20% of the grocery store, 80% of the time.
But why? Why shouldn’t I continue to eat a red delicious apple with my turkey sandwich every day for lunch? Here’s why:
Why is it important to eat the rainbow every day:
Every shade of the rainbow in the produce section represents a different health benefit. For example, red foods like tomatoes, watermelon, and red peppers contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin and can prevent heart disease among other things. Orange foods like sweet potatoes and butternut squash contain potassium and folic acid. The list goes on but the message stays the same: the more variety of color on your plate, the more health benefits your body will reap.
One of the many reasons I love the farmers market season is because I get inspired and excited to try new foods. This yearning to try new fruits or learn how to prepare different vegetables is what keeps me excited and motivated about healthy eating. If I was eating the same bunch of grapes with lunch and boiled broccoli with dinner it would be boring and I would have a harder time sticking with my long term goals.
Shopping seasonally is not only an easy way to ensure that you’re eating a wide variety of colors all year long but it will also help you save on your food budget. Look, I love raspberries just as much as the next gal but depending on the time of year it may be more cost-effective to feed my family pomegranate or cranberries.
Another benefit of seasonal eating, aside from saving money, is the fact that you’re guaranteed to eat produce picked at their height of freshness. Don’t be afraid to use your nose and look for the ripest, best smelling items you can find. That may mean leaving your romaine-salad-comfort-zone and trying baby kale or spinach instead. And that’s ok.
With a constant stream of alarming news reports and non-stop food recalls, trying to pick out the best foods to feed your family can be downright stressful. Dirty dozen, pesticides, cross-contamination, GMOs… the list goes on. While I’m not a food scientist or a Registered Dietitian, I can tell you this: moderation in all things is not only good for your waistline but it limits risk. In other words, eating the rainbow naturally reduces your risk because you are enjoying a diverse diet and not eating the same foods day in and day out.
Now it’s your turn! Show me your colorful plates by tagging me (@TheLemonBowl) and using #EatTheRainbow on Instagram and Twitter. I can’t wait to see what you’re dishing up!
Your fork is waiting.
I need more variety in my diet! I do try different things sometimes!
I wish we had good farmers markets here. That’s the one downside to living in the desert…
That’s a good point.
Beautiful photos! I just love fresh fruits and veggies…so many wonderful colors and flavors!!
Thank you so much my friend!
I love this post! Eat the rainbow, indeed!!!
OMG LIZ!!! This post is super perfect timing! I JUST TODAY published a post on a rainbow salad, no joke, then I saw this post on 5 reasons to eat the rainbow every day and it made me smile because I was exclaiming ‘YES’ after each of the points you made. Nothing makes the bleak weather seem to go away like eating vibrantly colored fruits and veggies.
Oh that is too funny!! GREAT MINDS!!
I think I love the idea of buying and trying the rainbow, but those beautiful veggies that you found are very hard to find in my year round farmers’ markets in FL. Plus I feel like a lot of food comes in from California, so it’s not really local. I shop regularly and would love too see more colorful produce than your average lot.
Since the ground is frozen here half the year, we aren’t able to eat locally all the time. I think the health benefits of eating a varied diet outweigh the cons of having to eat fruit from other parts of the USA part of the year. :)
Thanks so much for a great post! I love colorful eating, too!
I totally recognized Ali in the photo with you (I stalk,….I mean read her blog as well) Totally agree with everything you said. I used to spend a lot less of groceries, try to keep it under 500 a month (and groceries are cheaper where I live) And now I spend at least $800. But I’m feeding my family foods I’m proud of and we actually can afford to “eat the rainbow” more when we don’t go out to eat….which is very white/pasta like food.
Yes I totally agree. Isn’t Ali the best btw? :)
You have definitely inspired me to expand my fruit and veggie selections! I typically go for all things berry and apple for fruits and stick with dark greens like spinach, green beans, and broccoli for vegetables. Thank you for the incredible inspiration!!
I’m so glad to hear it!! Have fun eating the rainbow!
Love this post Liz! I agree that it is so important to eat the rainbow not only because it is beautiful, more exciting but there are so many added health benefits.
I love that we were on the same page friend!
Ok, now I’m much more motivated to change up the usual fruits and vegetables in my basket on the next trip to Kroger! My family is really good at trying new foods I just tend to go with the familiar through habit.
Yes I know so many of us do that!! I’m so glad to inspire!
You hit the nail on the head with every single one of these reasons, Liz. On our trip to Hawaii, I was so excited to see my kids sampling (and enjoying) so many new-to-them fruits…hopefully they’ll keep eating the rainbow for a lifetime.
Oh I bet the produce was out of this world over there Dara!!!
Great post! I’ve been really focused on variety for the last year. I’ve thought of it mostly for the health benefits, but your other points are great. I will share this on my blog’s Facebook page today. :)
Thank you for sharing it!!