For truly superior health eat the rainbow in vegetables every day
Step Three: Add a variety of colorful vegetables to your meals
When you eat a variety of colors on your plate such as red bell peppers, yellow tomatoes, green onions, purple eggplant, etc. you will have a sparkle like the brightest diamond! You can't go wrong with any plant that has bright, vibrant colors! It is because fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals (that is the substance that makes them have color) which are full of antioxidants that help your body to be healthier.
David Heber, MD, PhD, and Bowerman attempted to group foods according to their predominant phytochemical group, coding plant foods into seven color categories: red, red/purple, orange, orange/yellow, yellow/green, green, and white/green so we now see our fruit and vegetable rainbow!
Why you should eat more vegetables:
- can significantly reduce risk for heart disease
- can protect against certain types of cancers.
- especially those with fiber may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
- focusing on fruits and veggies rich in potassium contributes to lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones as well as helping to decrease bone loss.
- Vegetables are typically lower in calories per cup than other higher-calorie foods, this helps to lower calorie intake. This can reduce your risk for obesity and other related diseases.
- Eating vegetables floods your body with healthy enzymes that in turn, makes your skin healthier and gives you that beautiful healthy glow
When eating the rainbow, try to focus on vegetables as much as possible and limit your intake of fruit. (To read more about why, see the footnote at the end of this post.) Make sure you are adding at least two, but preferably even more vegetables to each of your meals daily. Remember: Eat the rainbow and you will sparkle like a diamond.
Some great suggestions for increasing your intake of vegetables:
- Superfood salads, side salads, and salad sandwiches
- Vegetable stir fries
- Vegetable soups and Cream of Vegetable soups are a great way to get in lots of servings of your favorite vegetables.
- Smoothies: not just “green” ones; I often add a handful of spinach to my childrens smoothies and they never even know.
- Be deceptive. You can always go veggie ninja and add purees to your recipes without your children even being aware of it. Try this sneaky mac-n-cheese recipe full of butternut squash puree!
How to make eating vegetables more fun if you are not used to eating them:
- Raw broccoli, red and green peppers, celery sticks or cauliflower taste great dipped in salad dressings. Try making your own using one of our favorite recipes.
- It’s easy to add color to salads by adding baby carrots, shredded red cabbage, cubed or sliced beets, purple onions or spinach leaves. Include in-season vegetables for variety through the year.
- Try adding beans or peas in flavorful mixed dishes, like chili, vegetable soup or minestrone.
- Spend a couple of minutes decorating dishes with vegetable slices arranged nicely. Fancy restaurants do this all the time!
- Keep a bowl of cut-up vegetables in a clear container in the fridge, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, celery sticks, sliced bell peppers, small broccoli florets, sliced cucumbers and even non traditional veggies like jicama!
Getting your children to eat their vegetables might be easier than you think when you follow these tips:
- Be a good role model for children by eating vegetables with meals and as snacks, keeping cut veggies within reach for children, while keeping sugary snacks out of sight.
- Consider letting children choose the dinner vegetables or keeping a buffet of containers of veggies in your fridge for easy salads.
- Depending on their age, children can help shop for, clean, peel, or cut up vegetables.
- Encourage children to pick a new vegetable to try if they go with your shopping.
- Use cut-up vegetables as part of afternoon snacks, keeping these within easy access will increase the odds your child will eat them.
- Many kids do not like mixed vegetables, many do not like their foods to touch. To remedy this, try serving two vegetables separately. I have had a lot of success preparing meals for my children in Bento trays even at home.
For more sneaky recipes get a copy of this book:
Footnote: here's why: Read this article (scroll down about halfway to the charts about fruit). Typically, I tend to mostly consume my fruit in the form of berries, but here is a great article explaining the best choices in fruit. If you have been reading about the trend of eating a mostly fruit diet, please read this article: Surprising Health Hazards of an All Fruit Diet
My family and I tried the raw vegan lifestyle for a couple of years. We ate a large amount of vegetables, nuts, and seeds however, I consumed a green smoothie every morning with what I considered a low to moderate amount of fruit, however, after about 9 months, I had full blown hypoglycemia. According to my doctor at that time, it was from eating too many fruit sugars and not enough protein. Certain disorders of the adrenal glands and the pituitary gland can also result in a deficiency of key hormones that regulate glucose production (1) resulting in non-diabetes related hypoglycemia in adults. It is more likely that people will suffer from eating too many processed foods than eating fruit, so I wanted to keep this as a footnote. I would much rather you eat some fruit than a candy bar or sugary processed snack, however, this is just for those all or nothing people (like myself) who think if a little fruit is good, then a lot of fruit is better.