Thursday Thoughts: Eat Right With Color

It's Thursday, so you know what that means...

Thursday Thoughts

If you are new to my blog, or haven't been reading on Thursdays, this is a segment where I post my thoughts about various nutrition and health related topics, or maybe even something else if it is really an intriguing topic.  Most of my current views and opinions come from experience working as a dietitian and as college instructor in nutrition courses.  Most of that learning is science based or observational from the clinical setting.  In general, I hate over-generalizations, so for many of the things I post, I expect there is one or two exceptions because broad sweeping generalizations are always bound to miss out on something.

Did you really think I was going to start National Nutrition Month off without dedicating the first Thursday's post to the theme of this years National Nutrition Month?

Here are my thoughts on this great, awesome, fantastic, fabulous and truly wonderful topic:

1) You can't go wrong if you add a variety of color to your foods.  The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear color as it pertains to food would be produce.  Produce, produce and more produce.  Fruits and veggies all the way!  By adding a variety of color to your meals you ensure a variety of nutrients.  Those fruits and veggies are those colors for good reason.  They contain compounds that provide the colors while at the same time providing specific nutrients.  So, variety is promoted because it really does ensure we get all those vitamins and minerals that we need.  Now, you don't need every color of the rainbow at each meal or snack, but aim for all colors every day.

2) Does looking at a rainbow make you happy?  It certainly does for me.  So, the same can be said for my plate. When I look at my meal and see bright and vibrant colors and a good variety of these, I actually smile.  Sometimes I don't even want to eat it and I just admire the beautiful colors before me.  Ok, then I quickly get to eating before any hot food get cold.  Honestly, a brightly colored meal and a well balanced diet can put you in a better mood.  This is not just because the colors may make you happy, but because it helps to make sure you do not have nutritional deficiencies.

3) Fiber!  Yes, eating meals with lots of color usually means lots if fruits and veggies, which means a good amount of fiber.  Fiber has tons of great functions in the body, especially promoting good bowel health.  When your plate is filled with color from produce you are definitely getting in a good amount of fiber.  Some good ways to make a colorful meal include making a nice salad (try adding fruit as a topping) or adding a variety of cooked veggies to a casserole or soup.

4) Color isn't just for produce.  I know the theme is a nice pretty picture with lots of colorful produce, but there are other good, nutritious colorful foods out there.  I love a variety of whole grains in different shades, which really complement vegetables.  Some grains even come in red, like red rice and red quinoa, which really makes a dish standout on your plate.  Salmon has a gorgeous color.  Other fish and meat may not look as good in a bright color, but they work as a great canvas for a meal that provides a variety of vegetables.  Think of your meal as a painting and get those colors in!

5) Use this month to search for new ways to add color into your meals.  There are so many good websites, blogs, magazines and cooking shows that there is something out there that will appeal to your senses.  Experiment too.  Find a new food in a bright color and use it to create a new and creative dish.  Maybe it is still a bit chilly where you live, then you should cook up a batch of vegetable soup packed with reds, yellows, oranges and greens.  Whatever interests you should be the focus of your healthy eating and inspire you to Eat Right with Color this National Nutrition Month.

Follow me on Twitter as I post a colorful food of the day and share 5 recipes daily using that food for National Nutrition Month.

QUESTIONS:  Do you have a goal for National Nutrition Month to incorporate more color to your diet?  What is your favorite color when it comes to food?  Any food you would like to see me feature on twitter this month?  Any colorful recipes you want to share?

For more information on eating right and National Nutrition Month visit the American Dietetic Association website.

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