Somewhere Over the Food Rainbow
Have you ever heard the phrase – Eat A Rainbow? This is a phrase we use often in our school and corporate workshops as it is an easy way for us to communicate to people to start eating a more nutritionally balanced diet. We see many people who eat the same breakfast every day, the same lunch every day and only vary their food intake at dinner time.
Every food is categorised into one of the five food groups according to its nutritional profile. For example, the vegetable food group provides us with carbohydrate, water, fibre and a range of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A. The main nutrients found in food are fat, carbohydrate and protein and we use these primarily for energy. Vitamins and minerals, also nutrients, are used for a range of functions including cellular function, utilising the energy from food, a healthy immune system plus so much more.
There is also a range of compounds found in food known as non-nutrients. These are beneficial for our health but not essential for good health like nutrients. They include compounds such as polyphenols found in citrus fruit, green tea and fresh herbs and act as an anti-inflammatory. Many anti-oxidants are also found in non-nutrients such as lycopene in tomatoes. So, it’s important that if you want to be healthy that you eat a range of food to give your body a range of nutrients and non-nutrients to function at your very best. If you limit your food variety you are limiting your nutrient variety.
So, what does “Eat a Rainbow” mean? It simply means eat a range of colourful, fresh, wholesome food that will provide a range of health benefits for your body. It doesn’t mean eat a packet of Smarties! The more colourful whole food is, the more nutritional benefits it is likely to have as the nutrients and other healthy compounds contribute to its colour, flavour and aroma. We suggest aiming for about 20-30 different types of food per day and while this may seem like a lot it is quite easy to achieve. Here are some meal ideas to show you how you can eat a rainbow of food.
Natural or Bircher Muesli – Muesli contains about 5 different types of food such as rolled oats, wheat bran, coconut flakes, sultanas and other dried fruit and sunflower seeds. If you serve it with milk or yoghurt that adds more variety and then you can top it off with some fresh berries or fruit of your choice. So, before you’ve even left home, you’ve kick started your day with 6-8 different types of food and a range of nutrients to nourish every cell in your body. Not only that, you’ve eaten a meal that is full of colour variety and foods from four out of the five food groups; grains, dairy, fruit as well as protein which is found in the grains, seeds and dairy.
Sandwich, Roll or Wrap – Try adding a couple of extra foods into your lunch. Instead of chicken, cheese and tomato, try adding some salad greens, carrot and cucumber. Also choose multi grain breads, rather than a white bread or roll. The grains found in multi grain bread products are full of health benefits and a variety of grains that the white, refined bread products lack.
Dinner Minestrone Soup – Check out the recipes page on our web site for our Minestrone Soup recipe. Included in that are twelve different types of foods for a boost of goodness and a rainbow of colour.
Get the idea? In three meals, you’ve consumed nearly 30 different types of food all packed with different colours, nutrients and health benefits. Plan your meals to eat a rainbow of food every day and every cell in your body will be reap the benefits.