Do you eat the rainbow every day?
Posted on 15th November 2023 at 07:25
It’s a while since we’ve heard anyone mention this simple tip to help improve your eating habits. If you missed it – or had completely forgotten about it (!) – it’s quite simple. To include as many differently coloured fruits, vegetables and salad with every meal.
Not only does it make every meal look much more interesting and appetising – hurrah (!) – but encourages a much more diverse diet bringing with it a greater selection of nutrients. So, an easy way to improve your diet with the minimum of effort.
We were reminded of this the other day by another seemingly innocuous diet related question. It was how many different fresh fruits, vegetables and salad do you eat each week AND how this compared with that eaten by the average person.
And, to avoid too much “creativity” we’re going to include two caveats.
First, it’s not about how many portions of these foods you eat. It’s about the diversity of your diet, so the number of different foods you eat each week.
Second, this figure excludes anything processed, fruit flavourings, jams, cakes and the like (!).
We never cease to be amazed by just how creative people can be when trying to justify their less than ideal lifestyle choices…
So, before reading any further, what do you think?
Well, taking the mythical “average” person first, this figure came out at less than 20 different fresh foods each week. And, in many cases, was much less than this.
To put it in context, just stop for a minute and consider the huge range of different fruit, vegetables and salad on offer at the supermarket all year round. Let alone the frozen, tinned or dried options. And the “average” person was eating less than 20 different foods each week.
True, we all have our favourites or those easy options – with potatoes, carrots and frozen peas along with apples and bananas coming top of the list – but that’s 5 different options without trying.
And then there’s always the “time” factor, but there are so many quick and easy ways to “eat the rainbow” these days. Steaming. Stir frying. Both quick, easy and straightforward. Not forgetting our favourite way of using up all those veggies lingering in the bottom of your fridge, roasting. Even better, it leaves you free to do other things while they’re cooking. With all the endless combinations, it’s an easy way to make any meal more interesting.
By contrast, a “good” figure was suggested at more than 40 different foods each week, with those living a more traditional lifestyle coming up higher still. Particularly if they foraged with the season, enjoying many different foods, most of which would never be available in shops due to them only being available for very short periods of time or in small amounts. And this includes many wild herbs and salad type foods.
So, where are we going with this?
Well, aside from making meal times more interesting, it’s just a gentle reminder about the benefits of eating as widely varied a diet as possible. And to give it a little more oomph, eating with the seasons. Making the most of whatever is in season and at its best right now. Not only will it be packed with exactly the right range of nutrients our bodies need, but it’ll be locally grown, so avoiding all the downsides of food shipped halfway across the world.
And, here’s one little trap that’s easy to fall into. Don’t assume that, just because it’s in season here, then it’ll have been grown locally. Always read the label. We were amazed in the summer to find asparagus grown in the UK alongside that grown in Peru. Now, which one do you think would have the best nutritional content and least impact on the environment???
It’s also another reminder about using your freezer to store the summer surpluses for the winter months, saving money and improving your diet in the process. And you don’t need to have a garden to do this. Simply keeping an eye out for what’s on offer, whether in the supermarket or at people’s gates as they sell off their surplus supplies.
Then, why not be a bit adventurous and try something different every week – or cooking it in a different way? You may discover a new favourite in the process and, at worst, have a more “interesting” meal – with great stories to tell everyone as a result!
As always, the choice is yours.
Picture by unknown author
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