Brighter Bites

We’re a month past those new year promises and Dr. Lira’s article in the last issue on how to eat better—so how’s it going? Remember, this is an excellent opportunity to rest your body by eating lighter and healthier. Doing so is similar to a gentle detox in that we eliminate heavy foods, foods that we might be allergic to, or processed foods that have little nutritional value. Here are some familiar reminders as well as guidelines to follow in staying the course after your fresh start. 

  •  Stop eating and drinking (other than water) after 6pm so your body can “fast” until the next breakfast meal. 
  • Brighter BitesStop eating when you are 80% full. A good way to do this is to put your fork down between bites and chew at least 20 times per mouthful. You’ll find you fill up faster on a lot less.
  • Take the time to prepare homemade dishes, you are worth it. 
  • Eliminate all fast food (no matter how tempting the convenience is) and sodas, including energy drinks.
  • Restrict processed foods. If it has an ingredient and nutrition label on it, it’s processed. Typically these foods are high in chemicals such as artificial flavors, preservatives, excess sodium, hydrogenated fats and high fructose (GMO) corn syrup. Ninety-percent of soy, corn, canola and cotton are now grown from genetically modified seeds. Our bodies have not adapted to these chemicals and they do accumulate in our bodies.  
  • Shop the periphery of the grocery store, where you will find food without labels (produce, meats, seafood, and dairy), in order to keep your diet simple.
  • According to the Environmental Working Group, if we purchase produce with the lowest level of chemical residuals, we can decrease our toxin load by ninety-percent. Avoid produce on the Dirty Dozen list found at Eat nutritious food – choose these foods that are the most nutrient dense. For example whole grain breads instead of white breads; brown rice instead of white.
  • Eat a balanced plate that includes at least 50% vegetables (more than half should be raw), 30% protein, and 30% complex carbohydrates (whole grains are your best choices).
  • And finally, eat from the rainbow. We eat with our eyes first so indulge in a beautiful array of colors. Each naturally occurring color found in fruits and vegetables contains specific immune boosting antioxidants and phytonutrients. Studies show that many of these reduce inflammation and allergies and help detoxify pollutants. Eat a selection of these food colors every day:

Red fruits and vegetables are colored by a pigment called lycopene, an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce the risk of 

cancer and heart disease and improve memory. Red fruits and vegetables include cranberries, strawberries, red raspberries, watermelon, tomatoes, pomegranates, red peppers, beets, and red radishes.

Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are colored by a pigment called beta carotene. These foods are abundant in antioxidants, vitamins, and phytonutrients that can help reduce your risk of cancer and delay aging. These fruits and vegetables include mangos, oranges, peaches, winter squash, corn, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

Green fruits and vegetables get their color from chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll molecules have a similarity to human blood. Chlorophyll aids in gastrointestinal issues, promotes formation of red blood cells, detoxifies cancer-causing toxins, treats bad breath, fights infections, and helps assimilate other minerals. Green vegetables rich in chlorophyll include spinach, collard greens, green peas, kale, parsley, Swiss chard, turnip greens, broccoli, sea vegetables, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, green cabbage, celery, and green beans.

Blue and Purple fruits and vegetables are colored by anthocyanins, disease-fighting phytonutrients. Anthocyanins help to protect our brains as we age and reduce the risk of diabetes, certain types of cancer, and heart disease. Purple fruits and vegetables include blood oranges, mangosteen, blueberries, black raspberries, plums, purple grapes, eggplant, and radicchio.

White fruits and vegetables are colored by white pigments called flavones. These powerful phytochemicals can help reduce certain types of cancer, balance our hormones, and activate natural immune cells. These fruits and vegetables include pears, bananas, dates, onions, garlic, potatoes, and cauliflower. 

Photo from

Suzanne Landry

Suzanne Landry is author of The Passionate Vegetable and Fresh Food Matters available at or Amazon, Whole Foods, and several other local retailers in Santa Barbara.

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