You know it can be quite challenging, and sometimes overwhelming, trying to figure out how to eat healthy.  This is especially true when you see new nutrition studies popping up all over the internet.  And to make the situation more frustrating, those studies are bombarded with complicated scientific language.  I don’t know about you, but I prefer a more down-to-earth approach.  So, being the award-winning visual artist that I am, I thought how about using a system that’s color-coded?

Natural foods often give you clues about their nutritional values if you look at their colors. Let this rainbow of a guide help you make smart food choices.

The Color-Coded Approach to Fruits and Vegetables

1. Be VIBRANT. Vivid colors suggest that fruits and vegetables are at their freshest. You’ll enjoy more flavor and phytochemicals. These substances act like antioxidants with many positive functions, like slowing down the aging process.

2. Eat plenty of greens. Green vegetables deliver vitamin K, folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, and more good things with very few calories. Stock up on spinach and broccoli.

3. See red. Red foods are high in two phytochemicals called lycopene and anthocyanins. These are good for your heart and lower your risk for certain cancers. Add more cherries, tomatoes, and beets into your diet.

4. Pick an orange. Orange and yellow foods are high in vitamin C. Start your day with cantaloupe or pineapple slices. Toss yellow peppers into a salad.

5. Feel blue. Blue and purple foods also contain anthocyanins, which increase memory and overall health. Indulge in purple cabbage, eggplant, and blueberries.

6. Choose natural whites. It’s important to distinguish between white bread and white asparagus. Foods that are naturally white have been found to boost your immune system and reduce your risk of heart disease and other conditions.

Additional Color-full Advice for Healthier Eating

1. Cut down on processed white foods. White bread and other refined carbohydrates contain an abundance of empty calories because the manufacturing process removes the outer bran and germ that contain most of the nutrients. These foods cause your body to store fat and your blood sugar to fluctuate.

2. Look for alternatives to artificial dyes. Synthetic coloring is a cheap way to make food look more attractive. However, experts are concerned about the health effects of dyes. Look for brands that now use spices like paprika instead of Yellow No. 5 dye.

3. Manage your appetite. Studies have shown that certain colors encourage us to eat less. The theory is that the color contrast between your food and your plate makes you more aware of every bite. Give blue plates a try for your next spaghetti dinner.

4. Slow down. Eating slowly is one way to feel fuller on fewer calories because your brain has time to notice that you’ve had enough.

5. Make your own caramel. Some experts question the safety of artificial caramel coloring used in soft drinks and other products. It’s another good reason to drink less soda and more water. Real caramel is a completely different treat you can make at home for an occasional indulgence.

6. Lighten up. Don’t worry about keeping track of whether butternut squash has more vitamin K than gooseberries. By eating more fruits and vegetables you’ll automatically add more natural color to your diet. If you put at least 3 colors on your plate at every meal, you’ll be well on your way to covering all your nutritional bases.

Gather all the colors of the rainbow into your diet while you enjoy a variety of natural whole foods. Counting the colors on your plate is simpler than counting calories if you’re trying to lose weight and enhance your overall well-being.