Ditch the Beige and Eat a Rainbow

eat a rainbow

When health advocates encourage us ‘eat a rainbow’ and ‘ditch the beige’, they mean us to eat as wide a variety of colourful foods every day and avoid beige processed and engineered foods like bread, toast, pizza, sandwiches and cereals.  Why?

Well, apart from the fact that processed foods are a major contributor to obesity and illness around the world, it’s because colourful foods contain phytonutrients which powerfully support our health and healing. Mother Nature is infinitely wise and our very best health advocate with a sure-fire way to guide us to foods that are going to keep us healthy through our senses!

When we learn to listen to our body, our sense of taste, smell, touch and sight will guide us instinctively towards making better choices.  As visually dominant creatures, our sense of sight comes to the fore when attracting us to colourful, phytonutrient-rich foods.

What are phytonutrients?

Phytonutrients are natural chemicals or compounds produced by plants to protect the plant and keep it healthy. They’re found in a wide variety of foods: fruits and vegetables; whole grains; tea; nuts; beans and spices.

As well as protecting the plant, phytonutrients pack a punch for our health. Their powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties can help support a range of body systems. Some phytonutrients you may have heard of are:

  • carotenoids (eye and immune health)
  • resveratrol (cardiovascular and brain health)
  • flavonoids (cancer and cardiovascular disease)
  • glucosinolates (cancer)
  • phytoestrogens (women’s health - but see note below).

Supplements vs whole foods

Although we can buy phytonutrient supplements, they’re best consumed as nutrient-rich whole foods.  Mother Nature is much wiser than any chemist (despite what they may think!) and has packaged nutrients for us to get the maximum nutritional benefit from whole foods, not deconstructed, isolated nutrients.

Phytoestrogens – a note of caution

Phytoestrogens have been associated with reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis and are found in soy, legumes, broccoli, carrots, coffee and oranges.

They mimic the action of oestrogen in the body, which may be beneficial for some women in relieving discomfort from uncomfortable menopausal symptoms. BUT…

Our lifestyles, particularly women, leave us open to oestrogen overload from exposure to a wide variety of endocrine disrupting chemicals in our everyday lives. Studies have shown that phytoestrogens (particularly soya) may disrupt hormone function.  So be very cautious of overdoing phytoestrogens; each of us is different, so get to know how they may impact your body.

How to Eat a Rainbow

From the chart below, choose as wide a variety as possible every day and make your choice organic wherever possible:

eat a rainbow

(Click the image to download a pdf version and keep it by your fridge!)

  1. Begin with ONE serving (a cup or fist-full) of each colour every day.
  2. Build up to TWO servings of each colour every day.

Just watch as your energy increases, your skin glows and hear your body thank you!

See you on the other side of healthy! 😊


Gunnars K (2017). Nine ways that processed foods are harming people. Medical News Today. Available online: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318630.php

Healthline (2018): Phytonutrients. Available online: https://www.healthline.com/health/phytonutrients


Izabella Natrins

I'm here to inspire and support women at midlife and beyond to re-ignite purpose and meaning to take back control of their health and create the radical, resilient heath they want and deserve. As a whole-health expert with over 30 years experience in the field, a qualified Health and Wellness Coach and Ballymaloe-trained nutritional chef, my real food nutrition and lifestyle medicine programmes support women fighting fatigue, struggling with overwhelm, weight gain, sleep, energy and niggling or multiple diagnosed health issues. As an advocate for real food nutrition, regenerative agriculture and whole-health, my book 'The Real Food Solution' is an evidence-based treasury wisdom for energy, vitality and better health for people and planet and a call to action to change the way we grown, source and cook our food. As the CEO at The UK Health Coaches Association, I'm proud to continue the task of leading the first professional association for Health and Wellness Coaches in the world and the gold standard for the UK and Ireland.

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5 Responses

  1. February 11, 2020

    […] Of course, “5-a-day” isn't, in itself, a bad starting point. But I would suggest that we could all benefit from making sure that we incorporate a wide range of fruit and vegetables in our diet. Better advice might be that we ‘eat a rainbow.’ […]

  2. March 24, 2020

    […] we must also include a wide variety of plant-based foods if we are to create the optimum […]

  3. June 10, 2020

    […] and when our gut is happy, we will be happy too – the wider the variety of colours, the more phytonutrients we will be […]

  4. June 12, 2020

    […] and when our gut is happy, we will be happy too – the wider the variety of colours, the more phytonutrients we will be […]

  5. May 12, 2021

    […] For more information on the role and importance of phytonutrients in our diet, read my article Ditch the Beige and Eat a Rainbow. […]

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