How Learning to Eat the Rainbow Transformed My Entire Approach to Food

Every so often, my inner hippie takes over and I attempt to go au naturel. I buy apple cider vinegar and plan to make my own salad dressing. I stock up on cayenne pepper and vow to drink shots of spicy lemon water in the morning. Of course, not all my crunchy plans last or even get off the ground. I have deleted my fair share of recipes I found online for making granola.

But I am interested in nutrition, and I have been for years. I especially love food that borders on medicinal: I eat pineapple for the bromelin enzyme thought to soothe achy joints; I add raw ginger to tea to soothe inflammation and more. This list of 33 healthy foods that are more nutritious than anyone realized explains a lot of what inspires me about how healing healthy food can be.

Even with my passion for healthy food, the pace of life makes it hard to stick to whole, natural foods. Last spring I realized my food choices weren’t as healthy as I wanted them to be. My diet lacked color. Whether I was eating bland oatmeal, brown protein bars, or smoothies that resembled beige sludge, I was missing out on the vitality fresh produce. I was even swapping my love of cooking for grabbing fast food on the run during particularly busy or stressful seasons. I put on weight. Some of my clothes stopped fitting. My skin became redder than usual. I felt more anxious than ever.

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This summer, I had to leave New York City for a month while my building was under construction. I embraced the time away as a chance to reset my eating habits. I began spending more time in the produce aisle choosing lots of fruits and veggies. My produce drawer exploded with beautiful shades of green, red, and purple. My fruit basket overflowed with alluring hues of orange, peach, and yellow. (By the way, these are the healthiest fruits for your body.) I slowed down and cooked every meal I could. It dawned on me that I was “eating the rainbow”—a phrase I’d heard from nutritionists and was finally following, almost by accident.

In one week of consuming the most colorful foods as possible, I woke up one morning and thought; “I can’t wait to eat blueberries today.” In two weeks, my skin felt clearer, softer, and smoother. In three...