Easy Ways to Color Your Plate

Happy girl in group of fruit.

Often we get stuck in healthy eating patterns without realizing it’s more of a rut than a pattern. We find ourselves selecting the same types of food choices on a daily basis because they are working for our bodies or lifestyle. We may see positive results on the scale or looser clothing, but after eating the same foods at almost every meal, your taste buds will be craving new flavors. To avoid a food slump, I recommend coloring your plate and enjoying a bounty of fruits and vegetables. By doing so, you will make it easier to sustain the Total Body Reboot.

I always abide by one simple rule of thumb: The more color on my plate, the better. Vegetables and fruits are packed with the essential nutrients we need on a daily basis. Filling your plate with colorful choices within your caloric count will help you get the most out of your reboot. From fiber to antioxidants, a plate full of colors is truly the easiest way to get the healthy nourishment you need. I always recommend including at least a red, green, orange and purple or blue fruit or vegetable within a given day to ensure you’re getting good sources of vitamins and minerals.

Here are some recommendations on how to include more colors on your plate:

  • Red: The deep color of watermelon and tomatoes indicates they are a good source of lycopene which has been known to reduce some cancers, including prostate cancer, and support good bone health. Tomatoes are available year round – whether fresh or canned – and are a tasty addition to salads, omelets and sandwiches. Tomatoes are also a good foundation for sauces. I always recommend canned tomatoes as a pantry staple because they enhance the flavor of my foods. Watermelon adds freshness to salads or sandwiches. I love a watermelon and feta cheese salad.
  • Orange: I think we have all heard that carrots are good for the eyes. This is so true. They are loaded with beta-carotene, which converts into vitamin A. Carotenoids are also important for skin and lung health and have anti-inflammatory benefits. Pumpkin, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and orange peppers are other recommended orange foods. In addition to canned tomatoes, canned pumpkin is another pantry staple I find myself recommending to my clients and professional athletes. Great all year long for pumpkin soup, pumpkin enchiladas or mixed into low-fat yogurt topped with cinnamon.
  • Green: Broccoli, kale and cabbage are recommended green foods. They are packed with carotenoids, which mean they are cancer-fighting foods. Dark green vegetables and fruits also support bone health and eye health. Whether steamed or raw, these groovy green veggies contain fiber and folic acid and are high in calcium. They make a great addition to stir frys and salads and work as an ingredient added to rice or quinoa.
  • Purple or Blue: Darker colors usually indicate a higher antioxidant level. Recommended purple or blue foods include dried plums, blueberries and eggplant. Antioxidants fight against free radicals which contribute to the aging process, heart disease and cancer. Blueberries and dried plums pair well with yogurt or as a topper on low-fat vanilla ice cream. Chopped eggplant is a nice addition to a ratatouille or other stews.

Eating meals with a variety of colors can be simple and fun. Often, I’ll have a crispy apple with nut butter at breakfast.  If I get hungry later in the day, carrots and hummus are a perfect snack to wipe out afternoon hunger. When dinner is over, I sometimes jump straight into dessert mode. Instead of reaching for that plate of cookies, try something healthier! Slicing a few pieces of juicy watermelon can satisfy your craving for something sweet.

Remember, filling your plate with veggies and fruits is the best way to succeed in your Total Body Reboot.

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This is a sponsored post written by Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN, a spokesperson for the California Dried Plum Board, in partnership with Dr. Oz.