Ep. 191: The Rainbow Diet with Dr. Deanna Minich

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On today’s episode I’m chatting with Dr. Deanna Minich all about her concept of The Rainbow Diet, which is a way to help you to understand the physical and energetic properties of foods through their colors, and the “seven systems.”

the rainbow diet

We’re back with our 191st episode of the Fed+Fit Podcast! Remember to check back every Monday for a new episode and be sure to subscribe on iTunes!

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Episode 191 Links:

Visit Dr. Minich’s website HERE.

Take The Spectrum Quiz HERE.

What is The Rainbow Diet?  Find out HERE.

Order your copy of The Rainbow Diet HERE.

Order your copy of The Whole Detox HERE.

Order your copy of Chakra Foods for Optimum Health HERE.

Episode 191 Sponsors and Featured Partners

  • Pride of Bristol Bay – Sustainable, hiqh-quality, nutritious, and wild-caught Alaskan Sockeye Salmon delivered right to your door!  Use the code “fedandfit” to get $40 off your first order!

Episode 191 transcription

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Cassy Joy: Welcome back to another episode of the Fed and Fit podcast. I am your host, Cassy Joy Garcia. And I am really excited about today’s episode. I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. We have invited Dr. Deanna Minich onto the show. We’re going to talk about chakra foods for optimal health. And I’m going to tell you a little bit about her, and then allow her to introduce herself, and we’re going to get into some of these questions.

Dr. Minich is an internationally recognized teacher, author, scientist, speaker, and artist. I essentially want to be her when I grow up. {laughs} She has more than 20 years of diverse well-rounded experience in the fields of nutrition and functional medicine, including clinical practice, research, product formulation, writing, and education. Her doctoral PhD research focused on essential fatty acid absorption and metabolism, and her master’s of science degree allowed her to explore the health benefits of a colorful plant-based carotenoids.

She has authored 6 books in health and wellness and over 15 scientific publications. That’s so impressive. Currently, she is faculty for the institute of functional medicine in the University of Western States. She has developed an online certification program for health professionals that they can apply the color-coded 7 systems of full spectrum health in their practice. Her lectures are heard by patients and practitioners throughout the world.

Dr. Minich’s passion is teaching a whole-self approach to nourishment and bridging the gaps between science, spirituality and art in medicine. Oh my goodness, welcome to the show. I’m so excited to chat today.

Dr. Deanna Minich: Thanks, Cassy! Great to be here with you. There’s lots to cover.

Cassy Joy: There is lots to cover! She was asking me how long the show was, and I said; you know, 20-ish minutes. And just in refreshing myself on your bio, I’m reminding myself that’s just not going to be enough time. {laughs}

Dr. Deanna Minich: Yeah. I know. It goes fast. But you know what? I think what’s important is even one small thing that people take away from listening to this can have a ripple through effect. It’s not only about spending a lot of time; it’s about spending quality time.

Cassy Joy: I really appreciate that. That sounds wonderful. I would love it; tell us a little bit more about your story and how did you start doing this really interesting work in the wellness community?

Dr. Deanna Minich: You know, I think it’s just part of an evolving journey. I grew up with a mother who was very health conscious, and I had a lot of resistance tot that initially until I developed a lot of my own health issues, and it sent me on a quest to figure them out.

And I think, like most of us in the healing field, we had something that we wanted to heal. And for me it was all about my reproductive organs. I had endometriosis. I had gut issues. My skin; often we think of the stuff inside of us as not very troublesome unless it really interferes with our function. But for me, it was all about my skin, too. It was like my skin was breaking out. I would get hives. I was just very sensitive in my skin. So I had a lot of these health issues that happened in my early 20s.

I always liked science, so I was always using science, and research, and studies to try to figure myself out. And that was in the day where we didn’t have the internet. And with the internet, as I was moving along into my 20s; I’m now 48. So just putting it in perspective. During the time we were starting to access more information, I started to realize that there were other threads to be looking at.

I had taken a yoga class in my early 20s, and got into yoga. I got into other things, because I realized that science alone couldn’t explain what was going on with me. I was feeling like; wow. My body is much more complex than just looking at it as a machine. You know; it’s connecting into my emotions and my thoughts. And stress. Stress was getting the better of me. It was causing a lot of anxiety. It was causing bouts of depression.

So I would say; you know, you asked me how did I get into all of this. I think it was multiple things along the way. So everything from nutrition. Nutrition helped greatly, and thank goodness for nutrition. I went to study nutrition in graduate school. I did a master’s and a PhD, probably more to figure myself out so that I could understand nutrition. Because I knew there was something there.

And then from nutrition, I went more into lifestyle and I did all kinds of different modalities there. Everything from having massage, body work, energy healing. Chiropractic sessions. I mean, you name it. I probably have had it done.

And I think that what cracked the nut for me; all of those things in some way contributed. But it wasn’t until I got into my own creativity, and I started to unleash my emotions and to let my body speak through painting and art that really brought me to this point of true healing.

Cassy Joy: Oh my goodness, that is fascinating. I cannot wait to peel back the layers further. Ok, before we jump into that. For those of us that are brand new to the concept of chakras. Can you tell us a little bit about what that is, and if I’m saying it correctly? {laughs} How many do we have in our bodies, and how do they work together or independently.

Dr. Deanna Minich: Yeah. The word chakra; it’s said a variety of different ways. I say both. I think chakra is more the western way, and the Eastern way is with the hard C. And chakra in Sanskrit, it means wheel.

If we look back at the ancient texts and mystical traditions that originated in Asia, and I’m thinking particularly India but then also Tibet, Nepal, and in other places. Essentially what the ancients were discovering is that we had parts of the body with a lot of activity. Like a wheel. Like it was constantly moving. It’s constantly generating action.

And if you look at some of the older drawings, they would show a picture of a body with these 7 places with these circles. And in our modern day, we call these energy centers. From my medical western background, the way I looked at these is that they were the endocrine system. The endocrine glands. The adrenal glands. The gonads; the testes, the ovaries. The pancreas. The heart and the thymus. The thyroid gland. The pituitary gland. The pineal gland.

So what the ancients were onto was that; there is this web in the body. Parts of the body are really active and orchestrating a lot of activity. So I stumbled across the chakras in yoga. So when I started studying yoga, and started doing it, they would start talking about the chakras. And I’m like; what is going on. What is this? And then I read Caroline Myss’ book, one of them, called Anatomy of the Spirit. It was in the 1990s, and I picked up her book. And I think at the time, that was just out.

She also comes from a catholic upbringing. So the way that she framed the chakras within the western terminology, looking at it from the cabalistic, the Jewish tradition, the catholic-Christian tradition. She was able to speak my language. I could get it. The way that she translated these different centers. She took it beyond physiology and into psychology.

So throughout my own journey, I just reinvented the chakra system for myself. And I don’t even call them chakras. Because I think the way that I have laid them out resembles the seed of the chakras, but it’s probably not true to their ancient meaning. So that’s why I call them the 7 systems of health.

Cassy Joy: OK. I’m taking notes. {laughs} This is so fascinating to me.

Dr. Deanna Minich: You’re right to ask me about the chakras, actually. Because my first book that was published in 2009 was called chakra foods. And what that book was about was how these energy centers, the connection that we have to them psychologically and physiologically, I was finding were connecting into food.

So I did talk a lot about chakras very early on in some of my books. But then in my later books; I have a book that just came out last year called the Rainbow Diet. And then a book in 2016 called Whole Detox. I use the 7 systems, but I don’t necessarily talk about chakras.

But for people that are into chakras, when they see my work they’re like; oh, wow, yeah. You’re doing chakras. It’s like; yeah, probably the skeleton of it is truly chakras. But then I fleshed it out in some of my Deanna-isms. So I would say; I’ve been criticized before that I wasn’t being completely true to the chakra system. I’m not. {laughs} I’m not claiming to be. So I just wanted to make that distinction.

But, I have a handy dandy little chart. You don’t have to take so many notes, Cassy. Because I can send you a PDF link so all of your listeners, viewers, can just download. I just made it super easy. It’s just a chart, and it lists all the colors, all the endocrine glands, all the body systems. It has the psychology or the core issues. It has the foods, and then the lifestyle. So people can have that for free. It’s an easy way to navigate everything.

Cassy Joy: Oh, that’s so wonderful. We will definitely put that into the show notes, or link to it, especially. So could you then tell me a little bit; what’s a way that someone listening right now, they want to know more. And obviously, they’re going to go grab that document to really get into the details. But how do you know if your 7 systems are out of balance? What are some signs we can look for?

Dr. Deanna Minich: Yeah. I mean, at any given time, we’ve got something going on, right? So one of the classic ways that we figure out what’s happening and how to organize that information is to do an assessment. I actually have a certification program where I train practitioners on assessing people using a variety of different toolkit items.

But if you just say; well, I just want to get a good gauge. I’m on the pulse of it, I want to understand. In both of my Whole Detox and Rainbow Diet, I have questionnaires. And the questionnaire; it’s quite lengthy. Actually, you know what; it’s also on my website. One of my websites. Whole-Detox.com. If you go to the quiz tab, you can actually do it online. You can do it anonymously. And you can get a read out of all of your systems.

It’s quite lengthy; it’s 125 questions. But the way that I formulated this questionnaire; it had to come from braiding together all the piece parts. Right? I needed to have the one thread of physiology in our bodies. I needed another thread of psychology and how we feel. Then I needed to bring in the food, and lifestyle. So that’s why it’s a bit of a complex questionnaire.

But when you do it, you can see where you have high scores. If you have high scores, you take the highest score, and that is the system that’s most out of balance.

Cassy Joy: OH, that’s so fascinating. Very interesting. And I’m sure that if you find that, then the PDF download you mentioned will kind of walk you through maybe the steps of the Rainbow Diet and how it applies?

Dr. Deanna Minich: Yeah, for the most part. It gives you the general overview of it. So let’s just say; because most people when they do that questionnaire. 80% of people; and I did this years ago, when I was first writing Chakra Foods. I was testing out the questionnaire with people. I had all my friends do it; my family members. And I was compiling the data. And I was like; wow. So many people. And at the time, I had tabulated that it was like 80% of people have an imbalance in their yellow system of health. And yellow corresponds to the fire element. It’s the solar plexus chakra, if you’re thinking in chakra terms.

And what does that oversee? It oversees how you digest. How you transform. So it’s the seat of our digestion. It’s the stomach, it’s pancreas, liver, small intestine, gallbladder, and even the bile, which is yellow. So this is a pretty fiery, acidic, warm kind of place. And many of us are actually burning this out, to continue to use that analogy of temperature.

We’re not getting fired up; we’re getting burned out. And it’s because we’re just giving out so much. We’re eating foods that deplete our energy. So for each of the 7 systems, what you’re going to find in the Chakra Foods book, which you’ll also see in the Rainbow Diet book, what are the foods that help to better balance these centers. And what are the foods to be thinking about?

If we think about the fire system, the yellow system that I’m speaking about, it’s about carbohydrate. And when people do too much of the easy to break down carbohydrate; a lot of the simple sugars and processed foods. Foods that are high in glycemic index. Like white bread, and bagels in the morning. Waffles, pancakes. I think of breakfast as the classic brown, yellow, and white foods meal. That is not getting us off to a great day. That’s actually burning us out from the start. We don’t even get a start with that kind of breakfast.

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Dr. Deanna Minich: So, how do you heal that? How do you help to balance this center? Well, I give a number of different modalities from the food perspective, and then also lifestyle. And I don’t think you can just do one without the other. Food plus lifestyle equals synergy. Food alone is good. Lifestyle alone is good. And they each have their own ripple through effects. But quite honestly, if we really want the biggest shift possible, we need to look at the whole context of our lives. It’s not just the foods that we eat, but it’s how we think about the foods that we’re eating.

We could be eating a salad, and having good protein in it, and it’s very colorful. But what if we’re eating it in the car as we’re doing dashboard diving, driving to work. Or driving to go pick the kids up from school. Does that really have the same effect as if we’re sitting down with that meal mindfully? So that’s where lifestyle comes in to be very complementary to the foods that we’re eating.

Cassy Joy: OH that makes so much sense. What would you say would be your top three tips to folks listening right now that are wanting to implement some ideas? I’m sure that people are flooding to take that questionnaire, {laughs} because as soon as our talk is over I’m going to go take it. I’m so curious. And going to access and order a copy of the Rainbow Diet. But what would you say are three tips someone driving can listen to and chew on throughout the day that you really want them to consider as far as achieving a very balanced health approach in catering to this concept of the Rainbow Diet and the different areas of their body?

Dr. Deanna Minich: Yeah. And first of all, that questionnaire is always accessible to people. So I would say to take it on a weekly basis to see how you shift.

Cassy Joy: Ooh, that’s a neat idea.

Dr. Deanna Minich: Just because you do it once doesn’t mean that you’re going stay in that place. I try to do it pretty much on a monthly basis, because I know myself now. I teach this material, so I can already identify patterns within myself.

But for most people, they need to have a better gauge of where they’re at, and how they’re moving and shifting. When we start working on one of these systems, it starts to ripple through and change the other ones. So yeah, that’s the way to make the Rainbow Diet personalized. Is to do the questionnaire so that you actually know where to start. And where to put your energy.

But if we’re just saying; hey Deanna, just give me three tips from everything that you know about the Rainbow Diet, and with these 7 systems. Yeah, we want to make them personalized, but what can most people, just on the street. You can walk up to them; what can you talk about? I would say three things. Color, creativity, and variety.

First and foremost; color. I do think people are not eating enough color. As I mentioned with the breakfast items; we’re eating brown, yellow, and white foods. These are very inflammatory foods. They’re high aging foods. They’re damaging. They’re just not healing. So one of the things that we’re missing out on is getting the full palette of different colors from nature. So red, and orange, and healthy yellow, green, and aquamarine from sea plants, like nori. Or even blue-purple food like berries; blueberries, boysenberries, blackberries.

In fact, there was a survey done some years ago, and I think it was called the Americas phytonutrient report. It was done by Nutrilite 2009, I believe. And what they found out of the 1500 some odd people that they surveyed was that 88% of people did not meet their blue-purple for the day. 88%; that’s the majority who are not getting blue-purple.

When you start to drill into each of these colors, they connect into certain body systems. So blue-purple, when I talk about it in the Rainbow Diet, I talk about the brain. And if you look at the science on blue-purple foods, like blueberries. Even grape juice. What you find is there is a connection to learning, memory, cognition, and even mood states. So it’s super important to make sure you’ve got all the colors.

And of course, healthy white foods. Tan, black, brown. Go with the whole spectrum of foods as much as possible.

Cassy Joy: That’s wonderful.

Dr. Deanna Minich: Secondly, the creative side of food. I think that so many of us in the health space have become very analytical about food. We’ve become very sciency. And it’s like; ok, the ketogenic diet. How do I do it. How many grams of carbohydrates? We’ve gotten into this; I would call it analysis paralysis mode.

What is much more nourishing, I think, for people and much more sustainable long-term is to create a sense of creativity. To be creative, and artful, and playful. One of the things that I experienced growing up. My dad was a Chicago police officer. My mom was super strict. She was very religious, and we had a lot of restriction at home about what we ate. So one of the things was there was no laughing at the dinner table. It was like; serious business. And it was; food was function. Food was family, but it was still function. And you needed to do your business. You eat at the table.

I feel like I’ve had to undo that as an adult. I’ve had to actually teach and provide an example to others on how to play with food. And how to be creative. Because if creativity is your life force, and we heal through that flow, if we’re blocking it and we’re stagnating it and we’re getting stuck, then we’re going to have symptoms. So I think it’s really important to even use food, and eating, as a way to express our creativity.

Cassy Joy: I love that. I mean, the example that I think of in just you talking about that right now, is like a salad. There are a lot of folks listening that I do know like to follow recipes. And I think that kind of to your point, analysis paralysis. Even in being creative in the kitchen, if we follow too many recipes, constantly back to back, we kind of lose confidence in our ability just to wing it.

But a salad, I think, is a really great example of you can just artfully plate a salad. Throw some berries on there. What compels you; open up the refrigerator and see what you’ve got. Add some herbs and play with the homemade dressing. It’s just; I always feel like I’ve tapped into that creativity with my food when I’m plating a salad. Just as one little example. But I love that.

Dr. Deanna Minich: Yes. And the salad is a great idea. In fact, it makes me think of; years ago, I think it was 2008. I was teaching a course called nutrition for the soul. And I challenged the students to do something really creative and unique with their food. One of the things that we talked about was a salad. We said; ok, make a salad that’s really creative and unique. But eat it with your hands. Because you wouldn’t normally eat a salad with your hands. It’s got all kinds of textures, and tastes. And it’s a completely different experience.

I remember, there was somebody in the class who was talking about how profound it was for her to be eating a salad with her fingers. She was like; oh my gosh! I got messy. It just causes us to be in that playful state. If we really, truly let ourselves be in it.

Cassy Joy: That is so fun. What a great example.

Dr. Deanna Minich: Well I just thought of it when you mentioned the salad. I just had that flashback to that course, where we’ve talked about the salad. Because so many people; especially people who eat healthy are eating salads. But it’s become mundane. And it hasn’t been joyous.

Cassy Joy: Yes, I absolutely agree with you. There’s nothing sadder than a sad salad. {laughing}

Dr. Deanna Minich: {laughs} That’s a great quote, Cassy. That’s a great quote.

Cassy Joy: Is it? I don’t know that it’s my best. {laughs}

Dr. Deanna Minich: Well, it’s true. We have to inject some life into that. Food is a relationship. The way that we engage with food says something about our engagement with life. So if we’re making sad salads, and not really experience joy from it, it’s like; wow, that’s a nice window into what’s going on for us. It’s like; hmm. We need to shift it. We need to change it up.

The third point that you had asked me about; three things. Variety. And I’m thinking about this with food ruts. So let’s just take that salad example, because people can make a salad every day and they kind of get into the rut of using the same lettuce, and the same cherry tomatoes, and carrots, and cucumber. You know. It’s almost like; how do we get out of those ruts. And it’s so easy just to go with the same foods every day. Because then we don’t have to think about it. We don’t have to exert any energy. We have busy lives, busy schedules. So it’s like; oh my gosh. The last thing I want to be thinking about is my next meal.

Food consumes us mentally. It truly can. But the thing is, variety is essential. It’s essential for our mind and our bodies. If you look at the science about our bodies and the variety, we need it for the microbiome. Our gut microbiome, all of those little microorganisms that basically change our behavior, our immune system, our mood, our memory. How we digest. They need diversity. If they don’t have diverse things to chew on and metabolize, we’re only as good as what we give them. So we become, again, stuck and stayed if we’re not allowing for diversity and variety.

That actually makes us more resilient, as human beings. That’s what our immune system needs. Our immune system, most of it, is in the gut. So if we’re constantly seeing new things, it’s like; oh, this is a nice challenge. Let me see how I can relate to this. And then we become less apt to have food allergies, and food intolerances, and food sensitivities.

I typically see food issues with people when they’ve got poor guts. They’ve got leaky guts because they’re inflamed or they’ve got something going on. And then they eat the same foods all the time. So then they develop this sensitivity to corn, to wheat, to soy. Whatever it is. And what they really need is to get out of those ruts.

The Whole Detox program that I put together, if you can imagine this. It’s 21 days. Every 3 days, a typical rotation diet will say you need to eat new foods every three to four days. Even when you go into a food allergy test, they’ll say you need to change every three to four days these foods. So I do that within Whole Detox.

The first three days, we focus on red colored foods. Really super saturate the diet with all these red plant-based foods. And there’s an omnivore track, too. I’m not wedded to any dietary dogma. I have an omnivore track. I have a vegan track.

Then the next three days; days four through six, we do orange foods. And then we do 7 through 9, we do yellow foods. And we just take it all through the rainbow. And it’s really funny because my dad did this. My dad is a junk food guy. My mom is the health nut. But my dad finally did my Whole Detox program, and he only did it because I dedicated the book to him. {laughs} So he said; I think I better do this program. So he did it. And my dad; he wore the colors of whatever foods we were eating for those days, he would wear that color shirt. He really got into it.

And that just happens with people. When they start changing it up. Not only did he become healthier going through it, he took pictures of himself and it’s amazing how the expression on his face had changed throughout the course of the program.

Cassy Joy: Oh, that is precious. That’s wonderful. I might just dedicate a book to a few family members in the future! {laughing}

Dr. Deanna Minich: {laughs} It was like; how am I going to help my dad make changes in his life? So yeah, that was what I had to do. I dedicated it to him.

Cassy Joy: Oh, I love that. Ok, that is such wonderful; man, thank you so much for all that wonderful advice. There is so much more depth here, and I cannot wait to follow up on all of it. The Rainbow Diet book we’ll link of course to the book. We’ll link to the questionnaire and the download, all of that stuff in the show notes.

Thank you so much, Deanna, for coming on the show today.

Dr. Deanna Minich: Oh, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks Cassy. You asked all the right questions, and I’m thinking that people have what they need to go further now.

Cassy Joy: I hope so. Definitely. I really appreciate it. Do you mind reminding us really quickly where we can find all of your work?

Dr. Deanna Minich: You bet. I think the best place is my website, which is my name. DeannaMinich.com. On there you can find all of my social media links. I’ve got some other websites. The one that you want is the one with the questionnaire. And that one is Whole-Detox.com.

Cassy Joy: Wonderful. Thank you so much Deanna! It really means the world that you take the time to come out and share this with the Fed and Fit audience. Really exciting stuff. And everybody who listened; thank you so much for dialing in. As always, we’ll be back again next week.

Meet the Author
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Cassy Joy Garcia

HOWDY! I’m Cassy Joy and I am just so happy you’re here. I’m the founder, Editor-in-Chief, and Nutrition Consultant here at Fed and Fit. What started as a food blog back in 2011 has evolved now into so much more.
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