Have you ever thought of colour as medicine? We tend to dismiss colours as something only connected with “arty stuff”…but in fact, we’re missing out big time. Because colours have a profound effect on our health and happiness.
I was privileged to chat to Dr Deanna Minich on this subject for the latest episode of Wellness Unwrapped. She explained that colour can change our psychology to the point that it can change our actions and our behaviours.
Here are three takeaways from our conversation:
- Bring colour into your food: research shows that eating coloured fruits and vegetables promotes a healthy mood, less anxiety, less depressive symptoms, a better quality of life and even better curiosity and creativity.
- Introduce variety in all things, including your diet and your clothing. Switch things up, pick something you haven’t worn or eaten in a while. See how it makes you feel.
- How we eat is how we live. And how we live is how we eat. If we’re eating beige processed foods, we’re probably living a very burnt-out, processed life. As well as introducing colour into your food, think about making room for fun, happiness and optimism, which are associated with less inflammation in the body. It’s so important to enjoy your food, to go slow when you’re eating it and really savour it.
Dr Minich is a nutrition researcher, educator and functional medicine-trained clinician. She has a unique approach to nutrition: one that combines physiology and psychology.
She has served on the Institute of Functional Medicine’s Nutrition Advisory Board and curriculum committee, in addition to being a faculty member. Her academic background is in nutritional science, including a Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Ph.D. in Medical Sciences (Nutrition) from the University of Groningen in The Netherlands. She is a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition and a Certified Nutrition Specialist.
Dr. Minich has more than forty published scientific articles in journals such as Nutrients, Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, and Nutrition Reviews. She is the author of six books on nutrition, wellness, and psychology, and is passionate about helping others to live well using therapeutic lifestyle changes.
Find out more at www.deannaminich.com
You’ll find the full transcript of our conversation below and can listen to our conversation here.
SG: Welcome Deanna.
DM: Hello, Thanks for having me, Suzy.
SG: It is my pleasure and privilege because as we were just chatting before, you were one of my very respected teachers when I was studying to become a Functional Medicine Health coach a few years back. This was 2016 and I used to listen to you and pray that one day I could emulate your magic when you coach people because I used to just watch how you inspired people and you were always smiling. This was a thing that stood out about you, in particular, was that you always had this huge smile and you would laugh very often with them, which I just thought was just so lighthearted and inspiring. So, I want to thank you for showing me the way to coach.
DM: Well, thank you, sometimes it’s so nice to get feedback on how people perceive you and what they find inspiring within you. So, I love that, I love that you call it magic and I think we all have our inner magic and it just needs to be revealed and come out of the box of wherever it’s hiding.
SG: I’d agree with that and this is an interesting topic for us to tackle the subject of colour because it’s something that I haven’t addressed on the podcast so far. And I think that’s down to the fact that I have hardly heard anybody talk about it. You are a little bit out there aren’t you on this topic, and I can see it’s a huge passion of yours and I’d love to know Deanna where did you get this passion for colour and this insight into the power of colour. Where did it come from?
DM: Well, if I think back, I think it came out of a place when I was not feeling very colourful in my life. So, I was finishing my degree, I was feeling stressed, I was feeling very lonely, I was feeling like I had a lot of pressure in my life, and quite honestly, if I track back to what happened, it was a weekend where I went to the art store and this is now two decades ago. So, this is not recent for me, this is an evolving journey of my creative expression and what happened but I remember I went to the art store over the weekend and I bought this big roll of paper, I bought paints and I began painting and I just had a couple of colours. I made this, I just lost myself in the colours on this big roll of paper.
And I’m not somebody who has studied art, I haven’t focused on that, it just felt like I needed to get out of my way, I needed to get out of my box and see my life in a colourful way. And what I would say, Suzy, is that I began tapping into something unique to colour, it’s almost like the colour has its own medicine, it has its healing properties and I would say from that point in some way, I began seeing colour in my life. So, not only was I painting it, but I was seeing it in my environment differently, I was looking at the colours I was wearing because up until that time, I would say I wore a lot of black. I wore a lot of black turtlenecks, black pants, and black jackets, I also wore a lot of navy blue, so a lot of dark colors.
And I do think that what we show on the outside is many times a reflection of what is inside. And I think because I was through this very dark, dreary period of my life, something intervened, something woke up in me that allowed me to open up to colour, so from that time, it’s very interesting and I’m sure that some of your listeners might connect to this. I began painting as a way of therapy, it just became something that every time I was emotionally stressed or mentally fatigued, I would just pull out a canvas or I’d pull out a huge piece of paper and I would just get messy and I would paint with certain colours. And the coluors that kept coming to me were the colours I would seldom wear, so things like pink, orange, and gold, I kept painting in these colours.
And I realized that perhaps each colour has a certain type of healing to it, just like nutrients in food, where we might get protein, carbohydrates, and fat and we might start to crave certain things. Maybe our body craves certain, I don’t know, minerals or vitamins, I was feeling like I was craving colour and this colour would come through to me repeatedly and I would have very similar paintings with similar colours. And finally, my husband, who was at the time a person I was together with and he later became my husband. He thought that it was reflecting some of my issues with my reproductive tract, with who I was as a woman in the world, which was very insightful that I had not even seen that because I had that supercharge of being a woman in science and having this connection with who I am, how do I embrace the feminine aspects of who I am in a more healing well-rounded way. So, my husband is also very much a healer, he’s an acupuncturist and I think he tuned into something through my paintings because they were all over our house and so eventually, he started to notice that there was a pattern here; I didn’t see the pattern, but he did. So again, sometimes it requires that people see things from the outside and mirror back to us what they’re seeing. And then it gives us insight as to what could be going on for us.
SG: Gosh, where to start with that? The first thing I want to say is that I love the fact that you had no background in art and you suddenly found yourself in this art shop; something drew you to that art shop with a big roll of paper, I love that. And I’m someone also who doesn’t have a background in art, and I always thought I was rubbish at art and then over lockdown, I joined an online, zoom watercolour class. I got myself some watercolours, which is something I hadn’t dabbled in paint since I was much younger at school because of-course I dropped art quite early on because I was “rubbish” at it. And I loved the process of just dipping this paintbrush in the water, in the colour, putting it on the paper, and watching it bleed and just run.
And I’d be mesmerised by it and the kids would be laughing at me, but I would be like, just look what I’ve made and I’d be putting them around the house and I think everyone thought it was quite funny that I was suddenly putting up my paintings like I was a 10-year-old. But it transported me to this different place and I think a lot of it was down to the colour and the way the colours interacted and also the mindfulness of being in that zone and painting. So, I get that and I just love this whole concept of you wearing different colours, because if you look at my wardrobe, Deanna, honestly, I’m ashamed that it is wall-to-wall navy: like any colour, as long as it’s navy and that’s what I wear. So, today I’m branching out with light blue, but still part of the blue spectrum, and recently I was with someone; two different people told me independently, they were alternative healer types, they both said to me, you need to wear some orange.
And I was like, I don’t like orange, it’s not something I’d normally wear. One of them said to me, I’m working with another client and they’ve bought some orange underpants. So, I was like orange underpants? But anyway, not easy to find. I managed to find some organic cotton, bright orange pants and she was like, yes, you need to wear it around that chakra. And I don’t know if it made any difference, but I have been wearing my orange pants.
DM: That’s fabulous, well, you just keyed into something that I think all of the listeners can be asking themselves, what is the colour that we are most drawn to? So, for me, it was always green, no question, in fact, even today I’m wearing green and I intentionally chose green because I felt I’m going to have this conversation with you, I want more of my heart space, there was more intention that I connect with now with colour. But for me, even as a young child, it was always green and we need to also ask ourselves, what is the colour that we least like? So, for you it was orange, for me it was orange, and in that, there are also some healings, why do we move away from certain colours and why do we gravitate to certain colours?
And so, what I would say is just to experiment with that, you might even want to do a watercolour where you take the blue that you like, and then you take the orange and you let those two colours come together on the paper and allow your awareness to observe how they flow together through the water, bridging them together. It’s very meditative to do something like watercolour. I tend to do acrylics, which are very concentrated and I always felt I needed the intensity of the colour to feed me, I wanted more bright, more vivid. There’s a beauty in watercolor as well, where the water is the medium: water represents emotions, it represents flow, it represents fluidity in our lives, and where we might need more fluidity too. So, you’re using the element to bring together these colours, if you think about it symbolically it’s a beautiful process. You know how some people doodle when they’re talking like if you’re coaching, do you do that?
SG: Well, not when I’m coaching, but if I’m listening to something like a podcast, I will doodle.
DM: But it may even be interesting to do active doodling with a client where for a timed section of your consult, like three minutes, I like just very quick things where people, it’s almost like when there’s that intensity of needing to do something, it just happens as it comes to the surface faster. So just for like one minute or three minutes and you just time it on your phone, there’s doodling that happens while you’re having a conversation and the person doesn’t even have to look at the doodle, they just move their hand and they just allow their body to speak through the pen. And if you think of it, so many of us are in this electronic world of keyboards of devices, so we don’t use the brain-to-hand communication and to me, the hands represent the art. We often hold them at the heart space.
So, what is coming through from head to heart and what is being revealed in that doodle, because we don’t have to be an artist to doodle, we all carry the archetype of an artist because we’re all changing and expressing and creating in every moment. But there can be so much that comes through just in that short timeframe of a doodle and then to have the client say, just show it and get feedback and say, this is what I feel when I see that doodle, there’s no judgment, there’s no perfectionism that enters in. And I think for me, Suzy, that was part of my path. I was a perfectionist and I was always an achiever, it was like more school! And I was pigeonholing myself into a box of restriction, confinement without having the expansion of what art was enabling me to do.
SG: Well, I can certainly relate to that, it’s that perfectionist…if I’m not good at it, I’m not even going to try. I get that. And you’ve mentioned a couple of times about your heart with the hands and the colour green, so for listeners who are not familiar with this concept of colours, having these subtle energies, what is the connection between art, for example, and the colour green and other colours?
DM: Yes, that’s a good question, so first and foremost, I think that everybody has their interpretation of colours; colours hold memories, just like food does. You may have a certain feeling about, I don’t know, spaghetti, and I might have a different feeling about spaghetti but then there is spaghetti on its own and what it represents. So, I think we also have to honour what our personal experience of a colour is. Uhat said, there are also colour psychology theories and principles carried through ancient traditions of medicine, so one of them you’ve already mentioned, it is the chakra system which is very closely aligned I would say to yoga and ancient traditions, as they relate to more of an Asian framework of medicine whether it’s India, Nepal, Tibet, or Bhutan, there is this sense that we have colours within us and those colors align to the endocrine system.
So, when we think of the heart, just to make it very simple, the heart is all about circulation. It has to circulate oxygen, it has to circulate blood and if we think of what in nature that represents that, I would say to some degree, we look at trees, we look at leaves, we look at the green healing of this planet. Many times, even in colour psychology, green has a resonance with healing. If you look at natural foods, many times they’re packaged in a green package or there’s green labeling, so in the marketing world, green is seen as healing or health or something that is happy or connects to something nourishing, so I think from that perspective, it just depends how you want to connect the dots. Now blue; when you mention blue, and you’re a lover of blue and how you wore a lot of navy blue, and maybe you still do, navy blue is a colour of the intellect, the colour of the mind.
So, it would be more in the way of like a starry sky, a nighttime sky and if the stars are neurons, how do we interconnect? How do we connect to our wisdom? It’s the nighttime, it’s the dream time, it’s the intuitive space. So, navy blue is not less than green, it’s simply different and it may have a different resonance for you, but in the way that I see it through an operational framework, I see blue as that colour of wisdom. It’s deep and there are many different shades within each colour. even if we have yellow, there’s a pale yellow like a very light-coloured yellow, then there’s like an egg yolk colour yellow, where it’s so deeply hued that it’s almost orange. So, even within every colour you can have a spectrum and it sounded like with your blue, you went from navy blue into a lighter blue which brings it into a different resonance, a different meaning that might be more like the daytime sky. It’s expansive, it’s opening, it’s vast, it’s the air element in some ways or it’s ethereal, again, I can talk on the physical side, but then there’s also the psychological side, there’s also the mystical or the spiritual side of these colours too.
SG: So, the different chakra which you mentioned, each one being associated with a different colour and so you mentioned green before, and that is the heart.
DM: Let’s go through them quickly, so I’m holding up a chart that I developed some time ago and it’s the seven colours and then what they mean. So, first is red; red is all about urgency, emergency, and reactivity in the body. It could mean inflammation and there’s a good side to inflammation too, each of these colours has different connotations for us. Too much red, not so good, that might mean stress, even in the UK the stop signs are red, right?
DM: It’s universal, they’re red here in the States. So, red in an emergency vehicle, a red stoplight evokes a response in us, so red is also passionate. The first question in an audience many times is, I’ll ask what their favourite colour is and there is a section of people that love red and I say to them, you must be the action people. You want to get things done, so red is that kind of feeling.
And then there’s orange and orange is also part of this warming cascade of colours, so if we just break our colours into two different categories; warming colours, cooling colors, so red starts that, and then we have orange and I see orange as playful, adventurous. When we look at the orange in nature, oftentimes it’s a colour of mating, believe it or not. So, if we look at fish and what ensures survival with mating, it’s typically a brightly orange coloured Guppy, or even within the bird kingdom we look at flamingos, very brightly coloured plumage that might connect to a bright pink or a bright orange is usually connected to better selection of a partner and better survivability of the offspring. So, I see orange as carotenoid plant-based foods that connect to our sense of reproduction. Yellow, now there was a study in Manchester, England some time ago.
SG: That’s where I am, I’m in Manchester.
DM: You’re in Manchester, well, the University there, one of them did this study some years ago, looking at what colours people liked and yellow, this kind of sun-shiny bright yellow colour was associated with a healthier mood. So, many people like to look at yellow, they may not necessarily like to wear yellow but yellow is a colour of happiness, of joy, I correlate it with the digestive health area. So, looking at fire, looking at burning bright rather than burning out, so if we think of the sun, many people feel like the sun being in sunlight changes their mood, so having that connection to yellow. Green, we talked about the heart, and then blue talking about the mind, and then there’s this spectrum of purple. I do bring in purple as it relates to the mind and spirituality a bit.
Purple is seen as a very precious colour because it rarely occurs in nature, it’s almost regal, and it has a sense of something divine or something special. And many people in the audience when I’m asking them, they like green, they like blue and they like purple and those people that love purple, they’re dedicated to purple. They love to wear purple. Some people just focus their whole wardrobes on purple, it’s a very popular colour in certain circles. So, I do find when I query people that they seem to like the cooling spectrum more than the warming spectrum and I do think that from a traditional medicine system, the warming colours are inviting action, they’re much more about the physical world than the cooling colours. The green, blue, and purple they’re less physical, perhaps more emotional, more reflective, more cooling, and not as action-oriented as the warming spectrum but that’s subjective too, that can be left up to, however, people experience those colours.
SG: And just picking up what you said earlier that you were wearing very dark colours when you felt dark and that’s something I see in a lot in people who I coach, who are often struggling with depressive feelings. And I’m thinking now of a particular lady called Lynne, who I’ve mentioned on this podcast before because I think she’s fabulous. And at the time she was, I think 69, when I started coaching her, it was in lockdown, she was struggling with her weight and she just felt very down, she was eating in a way that she knew was not helpful and she couldn’t motivate herself to move or do anything. She was in a bad place when I started coaching her and she would come to the zoom calls, always in a very voluminous, shapeless nondescript black hoodie type thing, which a lot of my clients wear initially.
And then one time, I don’t remember how we got talking. I don’t know if I noticed something in the background that was quite colourful and we got onto the subject of colour and it turned out she loved colour. And I was like, it’s interesting because you’re always wearing a plain black top and she said that she used to, before she started feeling very down about herself, she used to make these extraordinarily colourful things in craft, she had been very into the craft. Now, she wasn’t doing any craft, but she had previously been making beautiful things. So I said, you know what, Lynne, in our next session just wear something that’s a little bit of colour, just a little bit, earrings or whatever. Well she turned up two weeks later with these fabulous lime green earrings, I mean, just zingy, dangly, lime green earrings.
And she just looked a little bit happier about herself. Well from then on, I’m not joking Deanna, every time she’d turn up in some fabulous, colourful striped scarf because then she started knitting again and crocheting. So, she would bring these phenomenal pieces. Each week they just got more and more elaborate, more and more colorful and I remember her saying to me that she looks at certain colour combinations, like lime and bright pink. And she would say, Suzy, I salivate when I look at these particular colour combinations, I have a physical reaction, so that was how primal her love of colour was but she was living a life devoid of colour because she felt in a dark place and it was beautiful to see her lift as she brought colour back into her life. So, I think a lot of us are living a life devoid of colour, especially as busy women with all our responsibilities and all our worries. It’s like the colour has metaphorically and physically just gone out of our life.
DM: Yes, one of the things that I posted on social media yesterday was colourful foods lead to colourful moods.
SG: I saw that.
DM: Did you see that? And I’m just thinking as we had this colour conversation, because for women who feel time-compressed and are busy with their families, they don’t have time for self-care but then they want to engage in something good for the whole family because many times they won’t do it for themselves, but they’ll do it for the whole family. So,I would say, maybe like one day out of the week having a rainbow meal, making a rainbow pizza, making a rainbow smoothie, just starting small by bringing in colours through foods, because there is good data to suggest that eating those fruits and vegetables, confers benefit for healthy mood, less anxiety, less depressive symptoms, a better quality of life and even better curiosity and creativity.
So, when she shifts the home through colour, everybody is going to change and then that change will just affect the whole family unit, so I think that’s one good place to start. What I’ve also noticed is that when people start to eat more colorfully, so I have a 21-day program and whenever we do this program, I always notice different things like people start to dress differently. Let’s just say that people say, well, I can’t afford all of those fruits and vegetables, give me something else, and then what I say is, okay, I’m sure you have something in your closet that you can wear, just like you did with your client, wear something that has colour to it. Bringing that in, or even just looking at something with colour because of the power of the eyes, I think we’re learning much more about how we take in light.
So, if we think of blue light and how we enter into our day, we open our eyes and there’s this blue, white enriched light and this gets us going, the melatonin drops, and our hormone levels are all synced to how we’re perceiving light. And then towards the end of the day, having less of that blue light, now we get ready for bedtime. So, I do think that how we are seeing colour, just even looking at it, what colour do you have on your computer screen? What is the backdrop on your phone? There are small little itty bits of colour and I had one woman who worked in a cubicle and it was all gray.
And then when she started to eat differently, and more colourfully, she started to dress up her cubicle with all this colour, like this rainbow garland, kind of flags she had, and then she had different pictures. So, many times we can just bring things to our environment and also our home environment. Many people have gray sofas, gray chairs, gray space. I remember having a client many years ago, who didn’t like to cook and I asked her about her kitchen and I said, well, what does your kitchen look like, just describe it to me. And she said, well, it’s all white, I’ve got white cabinets, white walls and I said, well, what is your favorite colour? And she said, sage green, she said, it just like that like she knew immediately. And I said, what would happen if you painted your kitchen sage green?
Well, after a couple of weeks, much like your client, she came back and she had painted her kitchen sage green, and now she wanted to cook. Now she wanted to actually be in her kitchen. So I think colour can change our psychology to the point that it can change our actions, our behaviors, we really cannot discount the power, the potency, I would even say the medicine that colour can bring into our lives and how it can change so many different aspects.
SG: Wow. I mean, and that’s quite a statement to make isn’t it, because we so rarely, I would say, never associate colour with healing. I mean, we all know about “eat the rainbow” from a phytonutrient point of view and have different vitamins and different this and that. But I don’t think we generally think about it in terms of the psychological aspect of eating a rainbow or me having a carrot juice because the lady that told me about the orange underwear, she said even if you are having orange sweet potatoes or orange, like a carrot juice, you are taking in that power of orange. And that was quite a revolutionary idea for me because I would’ve thought of just, as I say the chemical constituents of the sweet potato or the carrots, and I know that your big passion is opening people’s eyes to these subtle energies. So tell us a little bit about what do we get apart from the nutrients, what do we get from eating these different coloured foods?
DM: Well, each of those I actually wrote a scientific paper about this because I’m a little bit of a different scientist who sees, like you’re saying the subtle, the spiritual. And what we see in the science is that each of those colours in plant foods seems to be connected to a pattern that we see in the research. So just to quickly go through them, like red-colored foods tend to be helpful for reducing inflammation or promoting inflammation. Like some people have more of a histamine response from some red foods, like maybe tomatoes or maybe more like strawberries. Orange-colored foods would be connected to reproductive health. Yellow is digestive. And I think of things like ginger changing the movement of the gut. I think about things like prebiotic fibers and things like bananas or even squash. Green foods for the heart because they do contain nutrients for the heart and the circulation, but there’s chlorophyll, that colour green seems to be really important for the heart and then blue purple foods really helping for mood, memory, the mind overall.
So I think that, when I was growing up, my mom was really into like the science of eating and the health of eating. And what I had to do was kind of reverse engineer that because I had an eating disorder as a young child, as a teen, because my mom had focused so much on the head of eating, which it’s really good that she did that because she was ahead of her time. And she really helped me to do the work that I’m doing today, but with having just the head of how we eat and just looking at a plate and seeing, oh, I’ve got protein, I’ve got fat, I’ve got this amount of colour on my plate for plants. But what if we also took that into the more fun artful and I would say, the joy of eating?
So when we look at our plate to see that as art, to see that as our palette, what do we have on our palette of curiosity and exploration, and to really look into that. There’s also the whole aspect of the shapes of food, the taste of food, the smell of food. So the colour unlocks one particular dimension of the eyes, but then there are also the other sensory components that many times when we live a rushed hurried life, we don’t give time to bathe in our senses.
We don’t give time to really allow ourselves that input, which changes the neuronal configuration in the brain. And I think that smell is a big one. More and more I’m really keyed into the science of the olfactory system: how we are smelling, how that connects to vision, how that connects to taste. I mean, everything is right here on our face, as it relates to food. Our tongue for our taste. Our nose for smell. Our eye to see that colour. And many times that colour is signaling us towards the other senses and vice versa.
So I would even say a broader aspect, like colour can take us into the sensory realm of the eyes, but then also to portal us into really tasting our food, really smelling our food because it’s interesting as, you know, digestion starts before we even put anything into our mouth, just because we smelled food. Smelling coffee can change memory without even drinking coffee. So it’s pretty profound what our senses can do, but so many people are not fully in their bodies. They’re again like dissociated, fragmented, they’re stressed and they’re not fully connected in, so they don’t have that full experience of that more satisfying, artful life.
SG: Yeah. And I think that will strike a chord with so many listeners and I even feel now thinking back a little bit guilty of what your mum did, obviously with the very best intentions for you. And that I will often say to the kids, if they’re feeling a little bit like they’re coming down with the cold, have a red pepper because it’s full of vitamin C and, and very much reducing it to these nutrients. And it kind of makes me sad now when I think about it, because there’s so much more, as you are explaining it to that vibrant red pepper, than me just reducing it to, oh, this will help with your immune system. So it’s really reframing for me because I think we miss out on that so much. And I see so many women in particular who are literally measuring and counting and just fixating on their calories and they’re not even looking at the food, never mind, considering the colours or the impact of the colours.
And as you say, it’s so disconnected from the joy of food. I think we rarely think about the joy of food and particularly in the health space.
DM: And I really am glad that my mom, she was really ahead of her time. So I grew up in the 1970s when there weren’t all these health influencers out there. There weren’t a lot of health coaches. It was really just people within, kind of the standard model of health and disease without thinking out of the box. And she thought out of the box, literally, like she thought out of cereal boxes and out of food boxes.
I do think it’s important to acknowledge those things with children though Suzy. I do think for them to know that when they’re not feeling well, vitamin C can be a good thing. So I think that that’s one part of it. And then to bring the joy to complement that with, okay, we also know that fun, happiness optimism is associated with less inflammation in the body and how important it is to enjoy your food, to go slow when you’re eating food and really savor it. So I think you need both. I think it’s important to know the science but then also not to have so much restriction where it doesn’t feel joyful and balanced.
SG: I love that you mentioned mindful eating Deanna because that’s something that really is very far from how most people eat, which will be very rushed, while they’re doing something else, while they’re on their laptop or on their phone or watching Netflix, or especially now I’m coaching a lot of people who are on back to back Zoom or Teams meetings throughout the day. Only thing we can grab is just a biscuit (or cookie as you call it) in between, but there’s no time to sit down for a proper lunch. So ideally we would be eating differently from that, wouldn’t we? So give us a few little tips on how we can properly take in our food in a mindful way.
DM: I have three things. And before I go into those three things I just want to say this is something that I’ve come to after all these years. It’s one of those philosophies for me. And the philosophy is: how we eat is how we live. And how we live is how we eat. So just to go back to what you were saying about people being on Zoom calls, not having time. Really, and truly the way that a person is eating through the day says something about how they live. And so if they can change what they’re eating or even how they’re living, they’re going to change the other thing.
Many times, is it, do we change our life first? And what does that mean? Do we start to change our sleep, change our physical activity, because that’s going to change our eating or do we change our food first? So it’s for everybody to decide. There are many paths up that mountain of healing, but I do think that just like we started this conversation Suzy, talking about how people observe certain things, and it’s really a sign of what’s inside for them.
Same thing about food and eating. I can look at a plate of food and have dinner with you, and I can get an insight as to how you’re eating, what you’re eating, what time you’re eating. And that will all tell me something about your life. So just in general. I think it’s just a good way to get a pulse check on how we’re living. If we’re eating brown, yellow, and white foods, and those are processed foods, we’re probably living a very burnt-out processed life. So then the question becomes, okay, what do we do? So here are my three principles for that.
And one of them we’ve already talked about, number one is colour, getting more colour and whatever shape sizes forms, whether that means more spices, maybe a variety of teas, all different colours of teas, dressing colourfully, changing our rooms. I don’t know if you’ve had this experience, but I always feel like at the change of a season, I need to clean the house. I need to like restructure things and change up the colour and the space dynamics. So I would say colour, we focused most of our conversation on colour.
The second principle to, I would say health and healing with food is creativity. Many people are in ruts. I call that food ruts. So it’s been estimated, now this is more for the American audience, but I can imagine it’s very similar in the UK, where people cycle through like five to seven different meals. They just make the same thing. They may vary it a little bit, but basically people have their foundational bedrock of food and they don’t deviate.
So what I would say here is try one new food every week. You go to the market and you might see something that, oh, I haven’t had a leak in a long time. I haven’t had an avocado in a long time. What is one thing that you can just bring in just to be more creative about your food and eating experience? Maybe you get a new plate. So I have a plate that I love to eat on and it’s blue. And I do it on purpose because we don’t tend to take in blue foods.
Maybe like a blueberry it’s deeply huge and it’s indigo kind of purple. But the blue plate that I have is a very unique blue where you don’t find this traditionally in food. So I want to get blue in my meal. So I have a certain plate and I also have a heart-shaped bowl. When I’m looking at that bowl it makes me reflect on bringing love into my meal. So that’s another way to get creativity. Bringing kids into meal preparation.
Again, back to that rainbow pizza idea where you have some kind of crust and then the kids just create, you have everything laid out in bowls. The kids are participating in creating with you in the kitchen and even spices, having kids bring in more spices and allowing them to do that.
The third principle is variety, dietary diversity confers better nutritional status. Meaning that if you have a more varied way of how you eat, like let’s just say you have an apple, you have a golden delicious apple one day. And then the next day you have a red delicious apple. Then the next day you have a pink lady apple. I live in this state where we have a lot of apples here. I saw a post today about kiwi and how there are so many different kinds of Kiwis, but yet people just focus on one kind of kiwi. And sometimes we’re at the mercy of whatever’s in our markets.
But I would say rather than buy a bag of something, get diverse kinds of things in the produce section that helps the gut microbiome. It helps with things like the immune system, because you are helping the gut microbiome, and we’ve all heard the old adage, variety is the spice of life. New people, new situations, going different places. This is why we love to go on vacation because it changes up our neurons. So I would say whatever way we can get variety. Variety of all things, even the clothing, many times people wear the same thing. So just changing it up, going into your closet and picking out something you haven’t worn in a really long time. And seeing how you feel with that.
SG: Yeah, the different clothing, because I recently branched out, I thought, you know what? My whole wardrobe is navy, let me wear something more colourful and you know things pop up on Instagram. I really like stripes. And I saw a top that had lovely, very bright stripes. And I thought I’m going to treat myself to it and it arrived snd I put it on, it was like a royal blue and then with these stripes and I came out like all perky, out of my bedroom and my son Louis who’s 21 he came out of his bedroom opposite and he just took one look at me and kind of raised an eyebrow and said: mum, is there any particular reason why you are wearing the gay flag?
And I was like, oh, I hadn’t realised it was the gay flag. I hadn’t really looked that closely at what colours they were in what particular sequence. And I hadn’t realized I was wearing this huge gay flag across my chest. And he was wondering if I was making some sort of statement about my sexual orientation. So anyway that just made me laugh because there was me trying to introduce more colour and I inadvertently made a bit of a statement.
DM: Well we do make a statement with colour. And especially when we have patterns or other types of shapes.
SG: Yeah. I feel like I need to bring more colour. Definitely. And especially with the food, I think I’ve been guilty of being very perfunctory with my food preparation. Like my bowls are all just, they’re just bowls. I’ve never thought of buying a heart shaped bowl and what symbolism that would bring, but I love the idea of what you said of bringing love into your food. What a beautiful concept.
DM: Well, somebody gifted me with the spoon and on the spoon itself, on the part that you put into the mouth, it says “eat with love and gratitude”. And it’s a really beautiful connection. I would say more energetic connection and even emotional connection with every bite. I like bowls and I like spoons more than forks and just like plates. And so I tend to, even my blue plate is a little bit curved, like a bowl. It’s not a full bowl, but I like the softer, bringing in, really being conscious of the elements that we bring in with food and cooking.
In fact, I even created. I don’t know if you’ve seen these Suzy, but I did create a card deck, it’s called Nourish Your Whole Self. And so I put these because I was getting tired of writing books and I was thinking, people need to put this into motion. They need to have practical ways to do this. So my husband and I have different card decks on our dining table. So when we go to eat together, especially breakfast, because we tend to share that meal together. We’ll pick cards like, okay, what is the feeling? What is the inspiration that we have for today?
I just like doing that because it brings inspiration together with the information and it allows us to put some kind of intention into our meal. And in spiritual and religious traditions, many times there’s the act of saying grace or giving thanks for food, which I think is a beautiful practice. Whether or not somebody is religious, I think bringing in an intention of gratitude is already changing the energetics of that meal. Even if you’re eating by yourself.
SG: Absolutely. I’m actually Jewish and we have a prayer before the food and after the food and different prayers for different types of food. So it’s quite complicated.
DM: I like that idea of after the food.
SG: Before and after and depending on what the type of food is. So goodness, there is so much to think about here, Deanna. So if people are a little intrigued, their life is very colourless. Their food is very much reduced to a status of, it’s just energy, it’s just to keep me going, where can they start? Where can they find out more about your work? What is one thing that they can start to embrace a more colourful life?
DM: So I do have some free resources on my website. I love just to give certain things away because I think it can help most people, especially families. So if people go to my website, which is www.deannaminich.com. There is a tab that says resources and then under resources, it’ll say downloads. And if people go to the downloads, there will be a download, which is called the Eat The Rainbow toolkit. And in that kit, there will be three things. There will be a list of different fruits and vegetables, just different ways to get the rainbow. Then there will be like a tracker and then there’s a shopping list so that people can put it in their purse when they go shopping or they can put it on their refrigerator, whatever they prefer.
There’s also a food and mood tracker. So you can monitor the coluors of food, the colours of mood. Maybe that’s something that people want to have some fun with. So I think yeah, to really go in and put this into action, even if it’s one small thing that people heard from this podcast, just from you and I talking about this, I think it’ll be fun. Even for myself, I have to continue to do these things. It’s not like I’m done just because I wear colourful clothes.
I love to go to the grocery store. I love to feel and smell and figure out, okay, what have I not had recently? How can I be more creative in my food preparation? So it’s an ongoing process. And I would say that those are three therapeutic ways to really bring more, I would say life force and healing and happiness into our every day.
SG: I love that: life force. Yes. I think that’s what we’re lacking in…life force. Honestly, I’ve been so inspired by this conversation. I really hope other people are. And I’m going to go and do tangible things following talking to you Deanna. I’m going to be more mindful about the impact the colour has on me, whether it’s via my food or clothes or just looking at things. So I want to thank you so much for your time. I so appreciate you coming on the podcast today.
DM: Well, thank you for the invitation. Really honored to have this open door conversation to talk about all things colour. So thank you so much, Suzy.