A Plate of Many Colors

Those of you who grew up in the Bible Belt are probably familiar with the phrase “a coat of many colors.” My fellow Appalachians (I’m from North Carolina) might know it from Dolly Parton’s 1971 hit song by the same name, but the phrase actually originates in the Old Testament.

The book of Genesis states that a man named Jacob had 12 sons, each destined by God to lead the future 12 tribes of Israel. Jacob loved all his sons, but he cherished one son, Joseph, more than the others. When Joseph came of age, Jacob blessed him and gave him a special gift: a beautiful coat of many colors.

Here at 2 Your Health, our mission is to help you make small, realistic changes that will accumulate over time to make a big impact on your health and well-being. And because you’re very special to us, we’re going to give you a gift that will serve you well for the rest of your life: not a coat, but a Plate of Many Colors.

Think of the colors you find in a typical sackful of “stuff” from the nearest fast-food drive-thru. Hamburger, fries, maybe a fried pie or a stack of onion rings. Congratulations—you just paid $10 for a big bag of BROWN and a lot of health issues down the road.

Now think of the varied, well-rounded, and delicious meal you have when you join your family for dinner on Thanksgiving, or when you choose to eat from the fresh salad bar at your favorite sit-down restaurant. Can you picture the ORANGE? The BLUE? The PURPLE, RED, and YELLOW? Surely you can see the GREEN! That is a Plate of Many Colors.

Are you starting to see the difference? A well-balanced meal is a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.

Let’s go back to the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. When Joseph’s brothers saw how gorgeous the coat was compared to their own drab clothes, they became so jealous they threw him in a well and left him for dead! (Don’t worry—he escaped and went on to become the ruler of Egypt. And he and his brothers eventually made up.)

So here’s an idea. Before you leave for work tomorrow, pack your lunch. Fill up a 9-inch plate with portions of ORANGE, BLUE, PURPLE, GREEN, RED, and YELLOW. When your coworkers join you in the break room with a boring bag of BROWN, you will be there eating a robust and attractive Plate of Many Colors. They’re bound to notice not only that your lunch looks better and tastes richer, but that you’re adding days to your life while they’re taking years away from their own. Like Joseph’s brothers, they’ll feel very jealous—but hopefully not jealous enough to do you bodily harm!


If you’ve been eating BROWN for so long you’ve gone food color-blind, stay tuned: We’ll be publishing a series of articles over the next few months that focus on foods of each color to help you expand your recipe repertoire, get out of downtown Brown Town, and bring some color back into your life!

Author: Carla Spencer

Carla Spencer is a Registered Dietitian and founder of 2 Your Health. Her extensive career working with individuals with health challenges led her to create this site dedicated to helping people enjoy their lives while working to prevent or minimize the impact of kidney disease.

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