Why eating on blue dishes won’t make you healthier

I have a daily planner / journal of sorts that has the phrase “fit happens” on the front. I love it.

Among the reasons that I love this particular journal, is that is contains a daily “fit tip”.

This morning, as I’m making my list of “Today’s Accomplishments” (I choose this title over “To Do” list because once I check the box, it means I’ve made yet another accomplishment during my day, however big or small, and it makes me feel good), I read the following fit tip:

“Out with the white dishes, in with the blue! Research shows that certain colors suppress appetite because they have the least appealing contrast to foods. Best bets: blue or red!”

Now, I have heard this tip before, but never really paid attention to it. But today, it actually annoyed me. Made me not love my journal quite as much.

Maybe it’s because lately I’ve been acutely aware of how we tend to frame healthy eating. Almost as if it’s a chore that must be devoid of any modicum of joy and we must force ourselves to get through it, using any gimmick imaginable to trick ourselves into eating less. Healthy eating is often thought possible only with superhuman willpower. There’s no way we be successful in our healthy eating efforts without it! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “if it tastes good, spit it out”. This comes mostly from people who believe that eating healthy food means subsisting on tragically over-steamed vegetables without salt and some sad, tired, boneless, skinless chicken breast. Ugh. If that were the case, I wouldn’t eat healthy ever.

But this blue-plate thing really got to me. Why do we have to make our food look less appealing in order to “eat healthier”? This seems to me a dumb solution to forming a foundational habit of eating healthier. Do you REALLY think that a blue dish is gonna help you eat less pizza or chocolate cake? Or—especially this time of year—fewer chocolate peanut butter balls or insert-your-favorite-holiday-treat-here?

The REAL issue is not the color of our dishes, but what we’re putting on them. For example, there is NO DISH BLUE ENOUGH to make me eat fewer French fries or chips & salsa. Not even if it had the Duke Blue Devil himself stamped on it, who I loathe with my whole Tar Heel heart.

By the way, if you have blue dishes because you like the actual dish, that’s totally different.

Instead of trying to make your food look less appealing, why not make food that is BOTH healthy AND appealing so that…

You can ENJOY and FEEL GOOD about eating—both during and after the experience. As an example, below is a typical day of eating for me, and I truly look forward to each meal and enjoy it. I don’t feel like I’ve deprived myself in the least, and I feel good about my choices. Am I saying I ALWAYS eat this way? Heck no, I stumble from time to time and have been known to go on some serious sugar binges when I get really anxious or down about something. But I strive to make eating healthy food a foundational habit for my life. In order to keep that good habit, I have to love what I eat. Taste is too important to me, because food in my opinion is supposed to be fun and enjoyable.

Here are easy, healthy, AND dang tasty examples of meals I love.

Breakfast: egg bowl (2 to 3 eggs scrambled in grass-fed butter with shiitake mushrooms, greens, or whatever veggies I’ve got handy). No, I’m not afraid of using butter—saturated fat does not kill us as old, weak science and rhetoric led us to believe for 50+ years.

Lunch: giant rainbow salad (big ole base of various greens, colorful chopped peppers, radish, cukes, must-have avocado, and a protein—with some type of homemade dressing); OR, leftovers from last night’s dinner. I love leftovers. Cook once, eat multiple times!

Dinner: zuchhini pasta with sauce and big green salad; or roasted chicken with potatoes, onions, and collards; or steak tacos with purple cabbage, cilantro, avocado, and lime; or red lentil coconut curry. The possibilities for truly delicious and healthier, REAL food are endless.

And I eat it all on white dishes to make the experience even more beautiful.