Roberta Gill: Make National Nutrition Month count |

Roberta Gill: Make National Nutrition Month count

One of the best ways to improve your health through nutrition is to “Eat Right With Color.” With all of the fruits and vegetables available in grocery stores, it’s easy to create a rainbow of colors on your plate. Aim for five servings of vegetables a day and four servings of fruit. If this sounds like a lot, remember that a serving of most fruits and vegetables ranges from the size of a golf ball to the size of a tennis ball (1/4 cup to 1/2 cup).

Just last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released new information showing the importance of adding more plant-based foods such as whole grains, legumes and nuts to our daily diets. These foods along with a colorful array of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, poultry, and low-fat milk and dairy products round out a healthy diet. But be aware of portion sizes. Even low-calorie foods can add up when the portions are larger than you need. For example, a portion of cooked pasta is 1/3 cup and contains 80 calories.

Many people are interested only in the numbers on their scales, but weight is not the only indicator of health. Being underweight, overweight or “just right” is not an accurate way to measure whether you’re eating a healthy balance of foods. Our preoccupation with weight, rather than overall nutrition, has resulted in children as young as 8 dealing with eating disorders.

Think about this next time you go grocery shopping. Spending most of your time on the perimeter of the grocery store, especially in the produce section, will provide you with the color guide for health. Green fruits like kiwi and avocado and green vegetables like spinach and asparagus help keep your body healthy. Yellow foods promote immunity and healthy vision. Purple and blue foods — blackberries, eggplant and purple potatoes — support memory and contain anti-aging properties. Produce that is red in color — cherries, beets and grapefruit — help maintain a healthy heart.

Try adding one or two of these colorful items in your grocery cart each week and then use them in a meal. Everyone knows how to make a smoothie, but have you thought of pureeing berries, peaches or pears and using the sauce as a topping for pancakes, instead of using syrup? Or adding grated or shredded zucchini or carrots to lasagna, pasta sauce and rice dishes? What about adding sliced almonds and dried apricots or cranberries to popcorn?

Let’s face it; we are often attracted to food because of its color. By introducing a variety of colorful items into our daily diet, we can expand our food horizons and improve our nutritional health at the same time.

Roberta Gill

Registered dietician, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association

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