Alisa Turner - Integrative Health Coaching

Why do we fill at least ½ our plates with the rainbow?

One of the many things that clients are keeping track of during our time together is how much of their plate is comprised of vegetables — and of that portion, how many colors are reflected.

90% of American’s don’t eat the minimum recommended amount of 7-13 servings, and for anyone struggling with any chronic health conditions, the minimum amount won’t be nearly enough. Regardless of how many servings you’re getting each day, you can probably eat more and here’s why you might consider it:

  1. They fill you up on very few calories –

One ounce of Lay’s potato chips is 160 calories and only 1 g fiber. 1 ounce of anything won’t fill you up very much, but this is especially true when it’s low in fiber. We have the opposite situation with vegetables. In order to eat 160 calories of broccoli, you’d have to eat about a pound of it, giving you about 12 g of fiber!

But what if you love potato chips?

It’s ok! I would never foster a scarcity mentality, because if you feel like you’re sacrificing all the time, your results will never be sustainable. Life is about balance. That’s what will bring joy. So, I encourage an abundance mindset instead of a restricted one; I will always allow for a reasonable portion of your favorite snack foods. They just have to be built into our overall plan.

AND… you can see that if you fill up on a giant bowl of veggies with all that fiber FIRST (with an appropriate amount of lean protein and healthy fat for YOUR bio-profile to maintain that satiety), there will not be a lot of space left for calorie-dense, chemically laden, ultra-processed food.

I call this concept “crowding out”

  1. They minimize cravings –

Cravings come from a lot of difference sources, but nutrient deficiency is definitely one of the easier ones to fix. When you start eating enough variety in your produce, it helps minimize the impact that these deficiencies have on your cravings so we can better isolate and work on the other more challenging causes.

Each piece of produce was fearfully and wonderfully made – with a unique set of micronutrients having a unique effect on the body. So, we need to get as much variety as possible to cover as many nutritional bases as we can through whole foods. Eating across the rainbow is a great first step.
Over time, when the other things get crowded out, you will naturally find that you crave less of them. Just trust the process!

  1. Fight Inflammation –

Veggies are anti-inflammatory and protect against oxidative damage. Inflammation plays a role in nearly all chronic health conditions, including obesity, so we should take every opportunity possible to reduce it. Adding more color to your plate every meal with extra veggies is one very easy way because fruit and veggies have a particularly positive effect on inflammation when they’re eaten in a wide variety as they work synergistically together.

Here’s some simple tips to get in more veggies:

  1. SHOP THE RAINBOW –

When you go to the store, start with the produce section, and shop the rainbow. Then move around the perimeter of the store staying out of the aisles except for the few things that are actually on your list. Spices and clean condiments are ok but remember — whole foods don’t often live down the snack aisles!

  1. EAT A SALAD EVERY DAY –

Put something from each color on your bed of greens. This becomes easier when you’ve shopped by color! Just make sure you read the ingredient label of the dressing and then measure it out accurately (made from scratch is even better!). You can easily triple the calories of your salad with just a few tablespoons of dressing if you’re not careful!

  1. COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES –

When you find that a recipe calls for just one or two veggies, don’t stay inside that box. Add red/orange/yellow peppers, onion, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, red onion, cabbage, squash, or any of your favorites! Get creative!

  1. ADD SPINACH TO EVERYTHING –

Eggs, curry, tomato sauce, fajitas, smoothies, anything goes! Greens are one of the most commonly missing foods, but since spinach has a very mild flavor and it cooks down to basically nothing, you can get a lot of greens in your body without even noticing it.

  1. PREP IMMEDIATELY–

Chop everything as soon as you walk in the door. I can almost guarantee there’s a higher likelihood of those veggies getting eaten if they’re chopped up and ready to go in the smoothie, the pan, the bowl of lettuce, or the container of hummus!

  1. FREEZE LEFTOVERS –

Buy large containers to save money, and freeze what you don’t use for later – Those spinach ice chips are great in a smoothie! Peppers, onion, broccoli, and berries also freeze well so really not much should go to waste.

  1. GO BLUE –

Blue foods are rare, but the blueberry has the one of the highest known antioxidant capacities of any common food, so don’t miss out on these and get wild blueberries when you can! Use them for breakfast in a protein shake, overnight oats, in some Greek yogurt, or throw some on top of your salad for lunch.
BRIDGE THE GAP – We can all strive to eat 10+ servings a day, but getting enough variety is difficult. So, consider bridging that nutritional gap with some quality plant powders. Just make sure they are organic/ NSF certified to be free of anything like pesticides or heavy metals.