Color Me Healthy


I looked down at my lunch plate feeling pangs of guilt. Something was wrong with the picture. My plate held a hot dog in a soft, white bun leftover from my husband’s company picnic. Being on the picnic committee meant that Mark brought home a bulk of leftovers that I crammed into our fridge. We needed to clear them out. Anyway, the hot dog
was all I had time for. We’d made a late start. Kathie was due at cheerleading practice. She grabbed some ramen noodles in a cup.
That night, seeing my supper plate, my guilt trip was worse. Another soft, white bun overflowed with a grilled hamburger, and too-thick slices of tomato and onion – all from the picnic. Beside the burger lay a pile of leftover Jay’s fresh-cut french fries from the big order we’d made over the weekend. I reheated them in the toaster oven.
I asked myself the worn-out question I’m always asking my kids: Where are your fruits and vegetables?
Oh, I ask it often. Sometimes I ask it of Mark, when he’s served his own plate and omitted a veg. Now, in my haste and laziness, I just didn’t care. I know why it is so easy to be slack. We want the bulky part of our meal to fill us. We’re in a hurry. We don’t take extra time to enjoy
our food. We don’t always bother to make it look especially eye-pleasing.
One easy key to diet planning my mom taught me is: serve a colorful plate.
I have no nutritional basis for this idea, but the visual motivation works. Choosing a bright and varied color palette for your menu probably provides a more balanced diet than a pale one. Almost everything that adds color to our diets is a fruit or a vegetable. Mom served me my side of beets or spinach when she had hers. If I’m lax with my own meals, how will my kids form a vegetable habit?
It’s tough for us all. We’re surrounded by a market full of convenience foods created to make our lives easier, and they do. What we have to ask is: Are they making us healthier? Probably not.
The healthiest foods for us are as nature intended: closest to their natural states. The more processed and packaged, the less natural and, probably, the less healthy. It’s not complicated. It’s common sense.
So why did I omit baby carrots and grapes from my plate when I had them both in the fridge? I guess leaving them out made one less thing for me to think of. I’m forming a bad habit of not wanting to have to think.
If your refrigerator is like mine with a surplus of magnetically stuck baggage covering it, let’s take down some of our old “stuff”. Let’s cut out some brightly colored pictures of fruits and vegetables to stick on the fridge door as a reminder. Let’s keep ready-to-eat fresh fruits and vegetables ready at hand. Let’s remember to eat them.


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