Veronica has been on a diet since the age of 12, but it wasn't until she discovered how to 'eat a rainbow' that her life truly changed.
Veronica was over it.
She’d been on a diet since the age of 12, and spent her 20s trying "every single one under the sun”. That included the Atkins diet, ordering pre-prepared calorie controlled meals, soup diets, detoxes and cleanses.
“It was horrible,” the 36 year-old mother of two said. “Every Monday I started a new diet. I was just constantly thinking about food and thinking about what I could or couldn’t have, and really restricting myself and my choices.”
Her wake-up call happened one day at Dream World.
Veronica was in line to go on a ride with her daughter and tried to sit down – but couldn’t. “I held the whole ride up as I literally couldn't fit in the space and do the belt up,” she says. Embarrassed, Veronica had no choice but to get off.
“I was mortified, and as much as I tried to joke it off – as I stood there watching my daughter and her father whiz around on the ride with such joy, I couldn't stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks.
“I had let myself down. I had let my daughter down.” It was at that moment she decided, “enough was enough”.
“I wasn't going to let this happen again.”
But Veronica didn’t want to simply try another diet. Instead, she was ready to embrace a healthier way of eating – one she could stick to for good.
“I thought, how can I make this easier on myself? Rather than calculating [calories], I just wanted something that would fit in with my family, so I would not have to be all absorbed by dieting.”
That’s when Veronica decided to try and eat a ‘rainbow’ of fresh fruit and veg at least once a day. At first, she set herself a five-day personal challenge to do just that – and she hasn't looked back since.
“I woke up one Saturday morning and said to myself, ‘If I can't eat healthy and exercise for five days straight when I have nothing on, then I will never be able to do this’,” she says.
Not only did Veronica cruise through those five days, she also noticed a host of other benefits. “I couldn’t believe how life-changing it was and how quickly I saw results,” she says. By day three of the challenge, she said her mood had definitely improved (“just ask my husband, lol”).
She also noticed she had tons more energy and, because of that, was able to exercise almost every day. Waking up became a breeze, too. For the first time since the birth of her children four years earlier, Veronica found herself bounding out of bed when her alarm clock went off.
Even better, she fell head over heels for her new way of eating. She was so enamoured with it, she couldn’t wait to share it with others.
So, in August last year, Veronica founded the Facebook page, Rainbow Eaters. Veronica has loved watching the community flourish to well over 600 members, who all hop on and share recipe ideas and food inspo.
To be a ‘rainbow eater’, Veronica tries to eat at least one ‘rainbow’ a day – that is, at least one meal that is loaded up with foods in all the colours of the rainbow. She says it’s important to get all those colours in as each one gives your body important vitamins, nutrients and minerals.
While it may sound time-consuming to eat like that, Veronica rarely plans her meals. Instead, she simply ensures she has heaps of fruit and veg on hand, and then throws them into whatever she’s cooking.
“Dishes that would normally only feature one or two types of vegetables, such as a chickpea and potato curry, now feature all colours of the rainbow – carrots, broccoli, red onion, pumpkin,” she says.
As a self-confessed “average” cook, Veronica says her approach to cooking nowadays is to prepare simple and rustic food and present it in a beautiful way to make it more appetising. She also enjoys finding fun new ways to help her children eat a rainbow, too.
Before she embraced this style of eating, Veronica says she would chow down on lots of packaged foods, like frozen meals, muesli bars and biscuits that she believed were “quick and easy”.
“But I’ve discovered that eating the rainbow is even easier when you're organised and willing to get creative with the meals you make,” she says.
After a lifetime of dieting, Veronica is thrilled she no longer needs to adhere to any rules around eating. “The only ‘rule’ I have to follow is ‘find the rainbow’ and that’s really easy.”
In fact, she’s given up diets for good. “I don't believe in the word 'diet' and now only fuel my body with foods my body feels like eating. It took a long time for me to 'listen' to what my body wanted.”
Sometimes, what her body wants is something sweet. But instead of reaching for the chocolate, she says fruit or a homemade cacao ball is now all she needs at times to satisfy those cravings.
Veronica says she feels so much more at ease in her body these days. She thinks back to that moment in Dream World with sadness, but is thrilled she no longer has to miss out on things because of her lifestyle.
She can’t say exactly how eating this way has affected her weight as she doesn’t own a scale and doesn’t weigh herself. But she says the benefits of eating the rainbow for her aren’t really about weight loss.
“I don’t look for that; I don’t look to validate how well I’m going according to a scale. I look at my energy levels and I choose the food I want on how much energy I need,” she says.
Becoming a Rainbow Eater hasn’t just given Veronica oodles of energy and a heap of other benefits, she says it’s actually been life-changing.
“I feel like a different person,” she says. “I don’t know why I didn’t do it earlier. This is the only way I want to live now.”