Truly Tasting the Rainbow
A Bite-Size Read for Your Health and Your Waistline
We’ve heard it all from vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, and now meatatarian! We also have the other side of the dieting coin: “are you paleo? keto? intermittent fasting”? We know all these words now. As a health coach, when people use any (or a combination) of these words to tell me how they eat, I always ask more questions. Truthfully, these words tell me more about what you’re NOT eating rather than telling me what you are eating. Our results, our health, all outcomes are a function of what we DO eat. Therein lies the nuance lost in those labels. Not to mention, it’s infinitely more fun to focus on what we do eat than what we don’t…that’s an article for another day. Back to these labels. There is one, of which I’m the biggest fan — varietarian.
Perhaps this is a new one for you. I encourage you to be a varietarian which means you eat a variety of foods! Eating a range of foods to meet our nutritional needs is the crux of this philosophy. Protein can be animal or plant, land animal or water animal. This might look like organic soy, hemp, or nutritional yeast, fish, chicken, turkey, pork, and even red meat (gasp!). Quality fats could come from avocado oil, olive oil, walnuts, sardines, anchovies, etc. Carbs from a rainbow of vegetables and fruits, whole grains in moderation, maybe farro and barley. These choices show up every day, in various combinations; in fact, there’s extra emphasis on changing things up and not eating the same foods every day, every week.
When I work with young clients, we talk about eating the rainbow. I’ll ask how many colors they can put on a single plate. We often hear people say eat your greens. Yes! That’s great! AND eat your reds, purples, blues, yellows and oranges too! This is truly what I mean about being a varietarian.
What differentiates between the variety of options available to meet our nutritional needs as a varietarian? This is critical! We choose the foods that we like! We choose the foods that agree with us, that give us energy, that make us feel good. It’s personal. Learning or re-learning to pay attention to how our bodies feel, to what our bodies tell us is a practice and ever-evolving lesson. Make notes as you notice indigestion, bloating, lethargy, energy slumps, when you wake up rested, what meals lasted a solid 5 hours and kept you running on high energy. These variations will dictate what your varietarian lifestyle looks like and it’s expected that it will look different from others, potentially even different from others in your own household!
If variety feels overwhelming, start by thinking about what’s seasonal near where you live. Make a concerted effort to purchase a new fruit or vegetable at the grocery store each week. Try going to a farmer’s market. Even simply going to a different grocery store can help us notice foods we haven’t eaten in a while (the unfamiliar shelves force us out of autopilot). Try a food you know in a new variety…purple cauliflower, anyone? When you’re ready, consider the variety you achieve season to season, week to week, even meal to meal and on a single plate! See if you can get all colors of the rainbow on your plate at least once this week.
Perhaps this quick read adds a new word to your vocabulary. Give it a shot! What if you call yourself a varietarian? After all, variety is the spice of life!