Sliced deli turkey on white bread for lunch, spaghetti with butter for dinner, bagels with cream cheese for breakfast. Sound familiar? An American child’s diet is dominated by foods that are over processed and low in essential nutrients, and that makes for meals full of white foods, such as pasta, bagels, white rice, crackers, and cereal.
As Michael Pollan writes in his book Food Rules, “Eat your colors.” The colors of vegetables vary based on the antioxidant phytochemicals that they contain, such as anthocyanins, polyphenols, flavonoids, and carotenoids. These natural chemical compounds protect against chronic diseases, and a diet containing as many different phytochemicals as possible will do the best job.
Eating a variety of colors will also help ensure that you consume all of the vitamins you need. For example, green foods, such as broccoli and spinach, will provide you with vitamin K, while yellow foods such as lemons and pineapples are a source of vitamin C. Eating a colorful diet does not have to mean cutting out carbohydrates completely. Flour used in white bread is made from the least nutritious layer of wheat berries, whereas whole wheat flour uses the entire grain, making whole wheat much higher in fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, and essential fatty acids.
So, instead of loading up on over-processed white breads that have lost their nutrients, try whole grain breads and whole grains, such as quinoa, bulgur, barley, buckwheat, oats, millet, popcorn and rye. Any of these are great choices to pair with a colorful vegetable and a small portion of vegetable or meat protein.