Press Releases 

Colors that Signal Good Nutrition
Date: 3/1/2008
Eat from the rainbow for healthy living.
The key to a good diet is eating from every color as often as possible.


Has there ever been a time when people were more aware of the impact of their diets on their health? Public health experts alert us to the danger of the obesity epidemic. We know that diet is essential to keeping blood pressure in check or cholesterol down. And diet is the starting point for shedding pounds. Confusing? Absolutely.

Dieticians have long been looking for the least-common-denominator of healthy eating — a plan so simple that it doesn’t make designing meals as tough as passing a chemistry test. Kanwal Singh, RD, chief clinical dietician at RWJ Hamilton, says “nutritional counseling can teach people how to develop an eating plan so intuitive that once you learn it, like riding a bicycle, you never lose the knack.”

Unlike the former one-size-fits-all approach to planning a balanced diet, “the newer pyramid developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is based on your individual age, gender and activity level,” says Singh.

The Rainbow Way

Today, if dieticians and other healthcare professionals agree on anything, it is that consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is a key ingredient to healthy living. But many people remain confused about which foods they should eat and how much.

Call it “pigment power.” Each of the five plant colors — red, orange/yellow, green, blue/purple and white — is associated with a different health benefit.

The colors represent phytochemicals — there are 2,500 in all — that work to enhance the immune system and cut disease risk. The key to a good diet is eating from every color as often as possible. If you do that, assuming you have no special medical needs, your diet will naturally fall into a good place, says Singh.

Getting Personal

Of course new diets are often required for many people counseled by RWJ Hamilton’s team of dieticians, particularly those with a newly diagnosed disease.

From uncontrolled or gestational diabetes to weight or cholesterol management, many conditions require education from a trained professional. In an initial consultation, a patient and dietician review lab work and a typical 24-hour eating period; patients learn about food groups, label reading, exchanges, and appropriate portions, and develop new goals and a sample meal plan with recipes. “The key is to make modifications to a patient’s existing eating habits because it makes it easier for them to follow and make positive, permanent change,” says Singh.

To adapt to these new changes, Singh cautions that adults should not create two meals for a family  one for the new diet and another for everyone else. “Parents have to show their children what’s right. Spouses need to support each other. Healthy eating should be a family affair.”

RWJ Hamilton Nutritional Counseling

RWJ Hamilton dieticians are specially-trained in nutritional counseling for children and adults. To meet with a dietician, a prescription from your physician is required. Consult your insurance provider and call to make an appointment: 609.584.6557. Bring a significant other to your appointment — or for pediatric counseling, bring the whole family.