The “February Funk” has set in for many of us and we now are longing for warmer, sunnier days and all the wonderful produce we are able to cultivate, gather and forage from our gardens, forests, and farmers market.
When I had a large family garden, I couldn’t wait for the seed catalogs to arrive during the winter months. I would snuggle under a warm blanket and stare out the frosted window, drawing out my rotation plan for the garden while waiting patiently for St. Patrick’s Day to start my seedlings indoors. In fact, a few weeks ago my daughter received her first of four seed catalogs she was waiting to receive for the new year and I could help but giggle as she squealed with excitement.
With the flu/pneumonia season in high swing and daily reports of the climbing number of people testing positive and dying from the dreaded coronavirus – COVID19 and influenza; eating healthy and keeping our immune system in tip-top shape is even more important than ever. That means we need to eat more COLOR everyday.
Obviously, it’s important to get your bum off the couch, sleep at least 6-8 hours a night and practicing good hand hygiene and drink lots and lots of water. YadaYadaYada… Right? Nothing we all don’t already know but how many of us really live it daily?
You don’t have to be a vegetarian/vegan or wait until the warmer weather returns to eat more colorfully. When I modified my daily intake of nutrition by eating low calorie and low carbohydrate foods for several months, I was eating tons of seasonal veggies. I had significant success with weight loss and my fasting blood sugars returned to normal. My psoriasis cleared up and I had more mental clarity and energy like never before.
But maintaining a very strict low calorie and low carb food diet became mundane and eventually unrealistic for any long length of time.
I realized that I felt energized with the vibrant fresh colors bouncing off my food. I no longer was eating “muddy brown” meals. The colorful food was feeding my body and my artistic soul.
Let’s take a look at two different breakfasts I ordered last summer while traveling for my job. Both meals had nutritional value and gave me plenty of morning energy. But which meal do you think is a bit healthier?
This is an example of what I call the “brown meal”. Mostly protein and carbs. It’s missing color, right? What could you add to make it more colorful? How about an avocado with a slice of tomato? Berries, citrus or melons?
This is an example of a “colorful meal”. Also, a breakfast with mostly carbs and protein but it has sweet potatoes, red peppers, green spinach and a vibrant yellow hollandaise sauce.
When choosing or planning your meals, think COLOR.
Do you like peanut butter toast? Who doesn’t, right? But it’s pretty “brown”. Why not add “colorful” fruit to the top instead of honey or jam/jelly.
How about avocado toast? Pretty healthy right? But what if you add some thinly sliced tomato slices, cucumber, RAW yellow zucchini or carrot. (Use a mandolin or a veggie peeler and beautiful veggie ribbons) Be creative!
Take it up a notch! Emeril Lagasse would say.
Do you like waffles, pancakes, oatmeal? Add a triad (a set of three) of colorful fruit or more.
I make a beautiful and delicious Rainbow Oatmeal. Vanilla essence and the fruit provide all the natural sweetener you’ll need.
I can hear many of you saying, “I don’t have the time”, “My kids hate veggies”, “Fresh veggies and fruits are expensive”, “I don’t have a green thumb” .
YOU ARE WORTH IT! Your health and family’s health is what makes my job as a nurse so damn important. Food can be healthy medicine for your body just by adding more color to your meals.
I’m not going to get all science geek here. But there are tons of information bombarding techno-land with Infomercials, Pinterest Pins, Google Search, YouTube, etc. about the importance of eating a rainbow of colors everyday. Micro-nutrients can heal the body from the inside out.
As a inpatient nurse, I am constantly either replacing or reversing major micro-nutrients in my patients. There is a lot of great information and studies done by prestigious medical communities regarding the importance of getting essential vitamins and minerals to prevent nutrient – deficiency diseases and ailments. through eating healthier. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/micronutrients-have-major-impact-on-health.
But how can you make simple changes that don’t eat up paychecks or make you buy lots of expensive pre-made meals or supplements that just leave you wanting to do this:
Below are 5 easy steps to get you and your family to eat more color. *
- Go invest in a color wheel or print one off from online. Take it shopping with you and make it a game. How many colorful foods can you find?
- Stick with fresh or frozen veggies/fruits. Canned foods are okay, but they do have less minerals and vitamins due to the high heat needed to safely process for a longer shelf life. Just read those labels and look for low sugar/low salt varieties preferably BPA free.
- Do a 30-day challenge. Pick one meal, (breakfast, lunch or dinner) and plan a menu. Make what you would normally eat for that meal but the goal will be to add at least 3 colorful fruits or veggies. Example: Mac and Cheese (box dinner) but add no less than three colorful veggies to that meal.
- Add a colorful fruit for dessert maybe with a little dab of Greek yogurt. For the kiddos, cut fruit out with cookie cutters or make “Ants on a Log” or Apple/Peanut Butter smiles. Make it fun!
- Track your progress. Make a color chart. Hang where you can see it and check off each time you eat something of that particular color. Here you will notice patterns. Are you eating a lot of greener things but less orange? How about purple and blue foods? Greek olives or pickled veggies are a great way to get those unique colors into your diet.
*If you are taking medicine that requires special dietary restrictions, please consult with your primary care provider.
Feel free to like and share this 30-day challenge with others. Please subscribe and share your comments and pictures with me about your experience after adding more color to your meals.
Here’s to a Colorful Healthier YOU, Cheers!