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Eating by Color

After years of trying to get my 5-7 a day of fruits and veggies and feeling as though I was consistently failing--in part because my mind could not parse a giant apple as 2-3 servings, and in part because, whatever I do, I don't think in numbers* in any way that makes counting servings rational...

I recently came across the notion of eating your 5-7 a day according to color. It's actually from a book called Getting Ready to Get Pregnant, since, you know, that's what I'm getting ready to get ready to be--and the nutrition advice in that book makes the most sense of any book I've ever read. Maybe because it's in easy-to-memorize gotchya lists? I really don't know, but it's really working for me in a way nutrition advice usually doesn't.

Anyway, the fruit/veg advice is so simple, so in tune with my brain: eat a rainbow every day. Have something orange, something yellow, something green, something blue/violet, and something red. The theory is, each color family has a similar set of good benefits--orange usually harbors beta carotene, or something like that, and so on.

Yesterday, amongst the many things I ate, I had green from spinach, guacamole, and beet greens; red from salsa, red peppers, and beets (or maybe beets are violet--I probably should re-read this section of the book, since this violet thing seems to be a stumbling block); orange from an orange and a small yam; yellow from a delicata squash; blue from blueberries. I also had some mashed potatoes, meat loaf, almond butter, peach jam, two slices of whole wheat bread... and some decadence, since I was out with friends, in terms of grits cakes, bacon, and a little bit of brownie and ice-cream. I'm sure I was excessively caloric because of said being out with friends, but I know I didn't suffer from a nutritional deficit!

Today was harder, being a work day, but I had red from apples, yellow from bell peppers, green from guacamole and green leaf lettuce... Tonight, I'll have at least a serving of prunes to fill in blue or purple or whatever it is prunes are for. Orange--well, sorry orange, buddy, you're screwed today. But at least I know it, and will correct for it. Tomorrow I should be able to eat the full color suite easily again, since I'll take my lunch to work, and I have leftover beets, squash and yams to take.

Anyway, it's a thousand times easier to manage my servings as I'm choosing what to eat, and not try to keep together some count throughout the day. I aim to get at least a serving from each color. It's easy to see where I'm missing something and fill in the gap.

I wish I would have figured this one out 20 years ago! When I made my tostada this evening, overflowing with lettuce and yellow peppers, I realized: this is a far prettier way to eat.

Anyone else have similarly fun ways to keep track of nutrition?

* No, I don't think in numbers, but I am not opposed to numbers. I'm good with short-term memory of 7 digit numbers--in part because of my job--and I can memorize phone numbers like very few people I know, unless they don't make sense to me, which some numbers just don't, like splash_the_cat's home number. (On the other hand, I still remember mrgeddylee's number from when we were in college. It was a really good number. Ending in 1348, which is a really easy number.) I'm good with mnemonics, I guess. And weird memory tricks. And if I say the page number of the book before I close it, I will be able to remember what page I was on when I come back to the book. But do not ask me how many servings of grain I ate today. It does not compute AT ALL.


Mar. 9th, 2011 12:37 am (UTC)
It's kind of amazing! And it's so obvious, too. I feel like a dolt, with all those years of broccoli, salad and green beans as my only real veggies, and the obligatory apple or banana for fruit.

Today: blood orange, apple, red and yellow baby bell peppers, kiwi, kale, beets, squash, sweet potato...

Dammit, I'm missing blue again.

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