The weight loss and health world is full of all sorts of slogans and sayings that are supposed to help you out. Think about it, and I’ll bet you can come up with a few that have helped or hindered you along the way.
A moment on the lips, forever on the hips.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Leave a little, lose a little.
Eat to live, don’t live to eat.
One particular phrase I kept coming across: Eat Across the Rainbow. Well, why? And what the heck does that mean?
The first thing that pops into my mind after hearing something like that is this old memory of mine from middle school. This very, very pale white kid was being teased on the bus because he kept talking like he was (without being at all PC), black. The other kids were all calling him out on it, and I have to hand it to him—he stood up to them, even though he was really little, scrawny, and very much a poser. Anyway, his response…and I’ll never forget this…was (in deep, overly emphasized Ebonics), “I am every color of the every rainbow.”
So why eat “every color of the every rainbow?”
I found out the answer while working at Jenny Craig, and it’s actually pretty fascinating. Fruits and vegetables have what are called phytonutrients, and those phytonutrients change depending on their skin color.
What? you ask. Not all fruits and veggies are created equal? How dare you!
Well, they’re not (but don’t worry…it’s a good thing). They’re all healthy. Their volumizing effects keep your tummy filled so you’re not eating junk. And most of them help fight off the risk of cancer. But they all have their particular phytonutrient benefits as well. Some of these you probably know already. For example, white is good for the immune system…so garlic, onions, shallots…that sort of thing. That’s why taking garlic supplements is a good idea when you’re starting to feel a cold coming on. The phytonutrient is called allicin, and it’s known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects.
This color scheme thing affects which phytonutrient your fruit or veggie has. If you’re eating something orange: beta-carotene. Something red: lycopene. Blue/Purple: anthocyanin.
Now I don’t expect you to remember all these fancy phytonutrient names. I sure don’t know them off the top of my head. One of the best articles I can find that quickly lists the benefits of each phytonutrient and which fruit/veggie falls into that category is 7 Colors of the Phytonutrient Rainbow: How Eating a Variety of Colors Can Keep You Healthy, by Elisa Lenox. Maybe use that as a reference.
Otherwise, just keep in mind that eating a variety of colors has real benefits. And sticking to the same color every day, such as a romaine or spinach salad, has its limitations. Instead, stock up on those super beneficial phytonutrients and give your body a boost. Chop up some red pepper, orange carrots, purple radicchio, and white onions to add to that salad, and you’ll be eating “every color of the every rainbow.”