You’re probably already familiar with the phrase “eat the rainbow.” But have you heard about the rainbow diet? Here’s a beginner’s guide to this eating plan that combines nutrition with spiritual healing.
So, what is it? Created by nutritionist Dr. Deanna Minich, the rainbow diet is “a colorful, intelligent and intuitive system for putting together your eating and living in a holistic way that brings you vitality, energy and peace of mind.”
Sounds great. And how does it work? Well, that’s the thing—it’s not exactly a one-size-fits-all approach. The diet promotes “colorful whole foods and natural supplements” and advocates the benefits of eating a variety of brightly-colored fruits and vegetables. But exactly what foods you should eat depends on which of the seven health systems you’re working on.
What do you mean by “health systems?” According to Minich (who says she uses East Indian and ancient traditions as a framework), there are seven systems that represent all of the organs throughout the body, and each system corresponds to a color of the rainbow. For example, the “fire system” governs your digestive system and includes your stomach, gallbladder, pancreas, liver and small intestine. To nourish it, you should eat yellow foods like bananas, ginger, lemons and pineapple. The “truth system” is positioned in the adrenal glands and corresponds to the color red (i.e., foods like grapefruit, beets, cherries, tomatoes and watermelon).
What are the pros of the diet? On the bright side (pun intended), all the recommended foods in the rainbow diet are healthy fruits and vegetables. And while Minich may suggest incorporating certain colors more than others (depending on the results of a 15-minute questionnaire found in Minich’s book) to see which health system is out of whack, she says that it’s important to include each of the seven colors of the rainbow into your diet daily, which sounds pretty smart to us.
So, should I try it? Well, here’s the rub: It’s not quite clear how much science and research is behind the eating plan. For example, ginger is known to soothe nausea, but is eating more of it really going to help someone with chronic tummy pains? And what about other (non-rainbow-colored) foods like meat, bread and, most importantly, chocolate? Registered dietician Kellilyn Fierras gives us her take: “This diet allows for many nutrients and phytochemicals, which numerous studies show is associated with lower risk for some diseases.” So far, so good. But she also tells us that while she definitely recommends adding more color to your eating routine, she wouldn’t recommend following a specific diet based on colors only. And as for us? Until more research is available, we’ll just add one of these salads into our daily rotation instead.