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What Color Is Your Diet

The Promise

Paint by numbers is easy, right? So is eating by colors, which is the concept behind What Color is Your Diet?

Author David Heber, MD, says Americans don’t get enough fruits and vegetables in their diets. His category system of colors makes it easier to fill in the nutrient gaps. By eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables, you’ll improve your overall health and lose weight.

What You Can Eat and What You Can't

On the plan, you’ll likely eat a lot more fruits and vegetables.

You'll be eating one serving (1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw) a day from each of the diet’s seven color categories:

Red: Lycopene-rich tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon

Red/purple: Anthocyanin-rich grapes, berries, prunes, red apples

Orange: Alpha- and beta-carotene-rich carrots, mangoes, apricots, cantaloupe, winter squash

Orange/yellow: Carotenoid- and vitamin C-rich oranges, tangerines, peaches, nectarines, papaya

Yellow/green:Lutein- and zeaxanthin-rich spinach; collard, mustard, or turnip greens; corn; peas; avocado; honeydew melon

Green: Sulforaphane-, isothiocyanate- and indoles-rich broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy

White/green: Flavonoid-rich garlic, onion, celery, pears, white wine, endive, chives

The book offers a week of sample menus, and detailed lists of foods in each color group to help create your own. Aside from fruits and vegetables, the diet includes:

  • Lean protein (egg whites, soy, wild-caught fish, seafood, white-meat poultry, nonfat and low-fat dairy)
  • Healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, nuts)
  • Fiber (beans, seeds, air-popped popcorn)
  • Whole grains
  • Herbs and spices

The diet does not include:

  • High-fat red meat
  • Farmed fish
  • Egg yolks
  • Butter, margarine
  • Full-fat baked goods
  • Trans fats
  • Candy or other low-nutrient foods

Level of Effort: Medium

Limitations: Each day you’ll eat from each of the seven color categories, plus protein at each meal, some soy protein over the course of the day, whole grains, and “taste enhancers,” which provide flavor, crunch, or richness. You won’t eat high-fat or high-sugar snacks.

Cooking and shopping: You’ll cook or eat out as usual, as long as you stick to the color code guidelines. You’ll find recipes as well as tips on dining out and how to navigate social gatherings while following the diet.

Packaged foods or meals: No.

In-person meetings: No.

Exercise: Recommended. Walking 10,000 steps a day is your goal, as well as incorporating some weight training and cardio into your routine.

Does It Allow for Dietary Restrictions or Preferences?

The diet emphasizes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, plus lean soy protein and whole grains, with smaller portions of healthy fats. So it satisfies low-fat, low-salt, and vegetarian needs and can be adjusted for vegan and gluten-free needs, too.

What Else You Should Know

Cost: You’ll spend roughly the same amount that you already do on groceries.

Support: You do this diet on your own.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on December 20, 2013

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