I love it when science catches up with my maternal nagging.
When my children were growing up, one of my mantras was, “Eat your colors, kids.” I wasn’t trying to get them to nibble on their crayons, I was reminding them about their nutrition. I figured if I could get that one idea drilled into their heads – that nutritious foods are often colorful foods – I could steer them away from the fried and sugared foods that had already created such havoc in the health of our family line. So, rather than drone on in a litany of specific foods – “Eat your carrots. Eat your broccoli. Eat those beets …” – I’d just give them the general idea that brighter is better.
Now nutritionists are backing me, saying that eating a rainbow of colors can be the pathway to a well-balanced diet. (See story on Page 2.) My kids are adults now, and I’m proud to say they’re fit and healthy, with great dietary habits. It wasn’t easy, however, particularly when they both argued vociferously that ketchup is red and pickles are green and should, therefore, count as colors in the food lineup.
One of my most satisfying conversations came after my daughter saw the movie Super Size Me, an exposé of the dangers of a strictly fast-food diet. She actually called to thank me for “being so mean about our diets.”
We are now entering the dietary danger zone, also known as “The Holidays,” when the game seems to be to see how much common sense we can toss out the window to make room for yet another cheese plate or a pile of cookies. As I get older, I find it easier and easier to adopt a “What the heck?” approach to those little stacks of temptation that seem to proliferate on every desktop or table in our office. I have to remind myself that, at this point, it isn’t whether or not I can wear that cute pair of jeans. It’s about whether this body will be up to the task of carrying me for the 30 or 40 more years I expect to be around.
So, this holiday season, I’m going to do my best to follow my own advice and eat lots of colors. … And to be so grateful that pumpkin pie is orange!
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