ROYGBIV your next meal—there are surprising health benefits to creating a rainbow-themed plate!
I never thought I'd approve of a candy's motto, but Skittles has got it going on when it suggests you "Taste the Rainbow." While I'm pretty sure a diet of artificially colored corn syrup and hydrogenated oil isn't the way to go, including a colorful variety of whole foods as part of a rainbow meal is.
Enjoying a rainbow meal could not be simpler. Ideally, you want to have a variety of foods on your plate that represent every color of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. I can hear Kermit the Frog singing it now, "Why are there so many songs about rainbows?" Because they're gorgeous, eye-catching, and fun, and that's one of the many reasons eating a rainbow is good for your health. Here are a few more reasons to start creating rainbow plates.
1. Beats Boredom
Forget opening your lunch to find another dull sandwich. Making a point to eat new, vibrantly colored foods every day will make you excited about eating, which can curb unhealthy cravings.
2. Boosts Nutrition
Different foods offer a unique blend of vitamins and minerals, so the best way to ensure you achieve ideal nutritional intake each day is to include a wide variety of foods.
3. Encourages Weight Loss
Choosing foods that are bright and colorful inevitably means eating more fruits and veggies, and since they're low in calories and high in fiber, you'll feel satisfied even though you're consuming fewer calories. Downing a big bowl of one-color pasta isn't the best choice if you're trying to lose weight. But if you add roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, and black beans, then you'll feel more satisfied while also consuming fewer calories and carbs.
And because a rainbow meal is more like art, you'll want to slowly savor each bite. Eating slower helps you appreciate your food more, and you'll also be more in tune with your body's "I'm full" signal, helping you stop eating when you've had enough instead of robotically inhaling whatever's on your plate.
4. Bold Color Means Big Health Benefits
Foods get their deep and vibrant hues from antioxidants, which can boost your immune system and prevent certain diseases. Red foods such as tomatoes, beets, and watermelon provide lycopene, which can reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancer. Blue and purple foods like blueberries, eggplant, and grapes can reduce your risk of heart disease as well as age-related memory loss. Rich, green-colored foods such as avocados, asparagus, and spinach can help protect against cell damage and maintain healthy eyesight.
How to Get Started
Begin by adding one rainbow meal each day. Since this takes a bit of planning, it's best to pick a meal you normally eat, and salads are perfect since fresh produce comes in so many wonderful shades. Write down every color of the rainbow on a piece of paper, and then think of a food for each of the colors. Need an idea? Try making the layered salad above with these ingredients:
Red: red bell peppers
Yellow: yellow peppers
Blue/purple/black: blueberries and purple cabbage
Brown/tan: chickpeas and sunflower seeds
White: cucumber and tofu