Eat The Rainbow
Hello everyone, my name is Heather Carrera. I’m new here to Geneseo. I just started as CAS’s Nutrition and Wellness Coordinator back in December, and I have been paying close attention over the past couple of months to what your concerns and interests are in regards to the food here on campus. One theme that I heard over and over again revolved around the health and nutrition of the food you are served. Without the nutrition information and ingredients easily accessible to you, how do you know if you are eating a healthy meal on campus? How do you ensure you are getting the nutrients you need when eating on-the-go?
First of all, I would like to say that I am working on finding ways to make that type of information more readily available to you. I believe in total transparency when it comes to the food you are being served. You are also always welcome to come visit me in my office in Blake A 107, and I can access that information for you. In the meantime however, I am going to offer you an easy way to ensure you are eating the healthiest meals possible: Eat the Rainbow.
Plants contain special compounds called phytonutrients that help protect the plant from harm. Interestingly enough, these same phytonutrients provide protective benefits to anyone who eats the plant material. Since many phytonutrients also serve as the pigment that gives foods their deep hues, you can identify most phytonutrient-rich foods by looking for colorful food. Different colors provide different health benefits, so the more colorful your plate is, the more phytonutrients it will contain, and the healthier the meal will be. Not all phytonutrients give color, so it’s important to not overlook some off-white foods as well such as onions, garlic, cauliflower, or mushrooms.
Notice that animal foods do not contain phytonutrients. Now, I am not suggesting that everyone should become vegan, as animal foods are the most bioavailable source of protein in the diet and offer some vitamins and minerals as well, but if health and nutrition are your goals, then most of us can stand to eat a lot more plant food and a bit less animal food in each meal.
Progressive medical institutes are now recommending we consume 9-13 servings of plant foods every day. That’s 3-4 servings per meal. How do you pack in those servings to every meal? You have to be creative, yes, but remember that whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and herbs and spices count towards this goal. At breakfast, add veggies to your omelet, fruits and nuts to your oatmeal, or have a smoothie with fruits, veggies, and spices. At lunch try a portabella mushroom burger with a side of grilled veggies, a hummus and veggie pita wrap, a veggie stir fry, or a salad packet with differently colored produce. At dinner, make it a goal to fill half of your plate with different colored vegetables, 25% with a protein, and 25% with a starch (this can include starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes or peas, squash, zucchini, or yams).
Unsure of how healthy you next meal is? Count how many colors it (naturally) contains. If it has at least 3-4, odds are it’s a nutrient dense choice.
PS-This Thursday is Meet the Nutritionist Day, so stop by my office from 2-4 pm for a diet and health analysis, or schedule a meeting by emailing me at email@example.com. Hope to see you there!