What is in a rainbow? Legend says there is a pot of gold waiting at the end of the rainbow, whilst Greek mythology believe a rainbow to be a bridge between god and humanity or in Indian Mythology an archers bow. Whatever your belief; the rainbow is a mystical prescence delighting young and old with its wonder of beauty.
Mother Nature has provided us with an endless amount of nourishing elements to sustain our bodies, nurture our minds and comfort our soul. From the air we breath to the food we eat and the beauty which surrounds us; humans are spoiled.
In modern, western society we are most certainly spoilt for choice when it comes to food but unfortunately a lot of those choices are doing us more harm than good. Food is readily available, and whilst this is great because our men folk no longer have to chase saber tooth tigers to get dinner, it means we are eating more than our bodies are designed for; creating a whole myriad of health issues. Especially, when that food is crammed full of inadequate fat, salt, sugar, chemicals, simple carbohydrates, additives, preservatives and nutritionally deficient food-like substances.
Deciding what to eat can be stressful for some people. Others enjoy the whole process from choosing a recipe, coming up with a great meal idea, shopping for the ingredients and then spending time in the kitchen creating a taste sensation. Myself, I’m the latter. I have an obsession with recipes and thoroughly enjoy grocery shopping.
There is no doubt a combination of events have led you to deciding how you are going to eat everyday. Maybe you were taught how to cook by your mum, dad or another family member. You may have grown up on takeaway food so this is all you know. Life may have gotten so ridiculously busy it’s hard to find the time to get in the kitchen. Whatever your take on cooking is, you need to eat. And so does your family.
So. What to eat?
Arainbowof food is theanswer!
Each colour of the food rainbow is going to nourish your body in multiple ways.
“How?” you ask.
Our food is designed to nourish our bodies and provide the living cells within us particular nutrients to keep them functioning optimally. There are many components to one piece of food but this article will focus on the phytochemicals which produce the wonderful rainbow of colour on offer for us to eat.
Not only do phytonutrients give food their colour; they are also responsible for the delicious flavours and natural toxicity for keeping pests away.
Although phytonutrients do not provide any nutrition they still have a very important role in the health of our bodies. Evidence has shown they have a protective role supporting other body systems to fight against a number of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease; and further into gastrointestinal health, eye health and bone health. To name a few.
I will briefly expand on each of the colours of the food rainbow and discuss the phytonutrient present and its role in maintaining our health.
Let’s start with the red foods.
Red foods such as tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon and papaya get their colour from lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant. Lycopene can be found throughout the body in the adrenal glands, testes, serum, liver, adipose tissue, prostate, kidney and ovaries. Because so many elements rely on this phytochemcial, the body needs to be replenished everyday through the diet.
Yellow, orange and some of the other red foods contain carotenoids. The important role carotenoids take on inside of you enhance immune system function, act as an antioxidant, improve gap junction intercellular communication as well as having anticarcinogenic properties.
Blue and purple foods are made up of Anthocyanin. This is another powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Green foods have a few different types of phytonutrients such as carotenoids, indoles and saponins. All of which have numerous health benefits including preventing heart disease, acting as an anti-inflammatory, working as an antioxidant, promoting a healthy metabolism and reducing the risk of cancer .
Brown and white foods consist of many phytonutrients including allacin and lignans; powerful components associated with liver, gastrointestinal and heart health.
I have included a download at the bottom of the page of all the vegetables and fruit belonging to the food Rainbow. Print it out and keep it on your fridge. Choose AT LEAST 5 vegetables per day and only 2 fruits. If you only eat a minimal amount of veggies at the moment increase your intake by 1 serving each day for 5 days and keep increasing until you are eating 5. Ideally your diet should be predominately plant based, with protein, good fats and a small amount of complex carbohydrates completing your meal.
If you don’t like vegetables it is easy to add them to your meal without noticing. throw a couple of cups of veggies in with some eggs. whisk them up and cook in a frypan. whip up a simple stirfry with some protein and a couple cups of veg. Add a touch of oyster sauce and voila…a yummy dinner. When choosing which veggies you would like be sure to stay away from too many potatoes, peas and corn.
It is also possible to train your tastebuds to enjoy eating 5 serves of veg a day. By eliminating sugar and processed foods your taste buds come to enjoy what natural wholefoods actually taste like. Decrease your intake of processed foods little-by-little everyday whilst also increasing your intake of real, wholefoods. After a week you will notice how yucky packaged foods taste.
Well, that’s the adults sorted. What about your kids? They are going to be a bit more complicated. Or not. That will depend on whether they already enjoy a rainbow of fresh food. It certainly is a challenge getting your kids to eat anything healthy. I have written a book for parents and carers who struggle at meal times, for parents who’s child is about to start eating solids; basically anyone who’s kids are eating solid food. You can find it here How to get children to eat healthy food. And love it.
The above advice for adults on retraining your tastebuds can also be done for your children.
My number 1 tip for getting kids to eat is to get them involved in the process. Like adults, our little ones want to be in control of what they do and how they do it. As much as it may be a nightmare to take your kids grocery shopping if they can help push the trolley, choose some food and have a say in what they would enjoy eating it gives them a sense of control which leads to less tantrums. When you are making dinner ask them to help prepare the meal. Having a task which is achievable, even if they only help for 2 minutes, instills confidence in the kitchen providing a lifetime of necessary skills.
Everybody needs to learn how to prepare and cook a meal. Eating is essential to survival, and we want our survival to be energetic, happy, fulfilling, healthy and joyful. It doesn’t matter whether you are creating a simple meal or one that rivals a 5 Michelin star restaurant; cooking is a fundamental part of our existance. Without food our bodies shut down and give out eventually; and starving our bodies of the appropriate nutrients eventuates in a life of illness and feeling pretty shitty. Who wants that?
My mantra for life is:
Eat Colourful. Live Colourful
You can’t go wrong with that. If you live it then your children will take it on as their own and continue to pass it on through the generations.
Taste the Rainbow. You won’t regret it.
Here is a list of the Rainbow of foods we have to choose from.
Here is a PDF version you can download to keep on your fridge