I first learned about Traffic Light Eating from Dr. Sears Wellness Institute, when I was researching childhood nutrition habits for my own kids. It is a great way to teach young elementary school kids about nutrition. Which kid does not love traffic lights? Not only it help your kids eat healthier, but It can also help you lose weight and eat your full serving of nutritious foods during the day.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean counting calories, monitoring fat content, or analyzing every detail of the nutrition facts. While that information is certainly important, it can become overwhelming when trying to make healthy choices for you and your family.
Choosing healthy foods doesn’t have to be complicated.
What exactly is Traffic Light Eating?
One of the ways to teach kids about making healthy food choices is Traffic Light Eating. When kids eat healthy, there is less junk food In the house, so it’s a win-win for all.
Traffic Light Eating System was created by Dr Leonard Epstein. He named the diet The stoplight Diet for Children. Dr Epstein used a tri-color palette to create an easy-to-follow diet for overweight children to help them lose weight and begin a lifetime of good eating habits and good health.
Traffic Light Eating makes eating healthy simple to understand, especially for kids. Just like when you are driving a car, a traffic light tells you what to do. Here is how it goes:
Traffic Light Eating
Green means “go”
Yellow tells us to “slow down”
Red means “stop” and thinkFrom Dr Sears Wellness Institute
Green Light foods are “go” foods, meaning eat as much as you want.
These include all fresh fruits and vegetables. Emphasis on fresh – these foods are grown, not manufactured. Packaged gummy fruit snacks are not Green Light foods! Take the kids to your local farmers market and get the fresh locally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables. Most fruits and vegetables are easy to eat. They do not require any special preparation either. Wash, Clean and Cut into fun bite sized pieces. Eat them as is or eat with a dip.
If you are calorie counting: These foods are low in calories and high in nutrients. In other words, Green Light foods are nutrient-dense.
Examples – Apples, Bananas, Oranges, Carrots, Cucumbers, Peaches, Berries, Guavas, Kiwis, Mangoes, Pineapples – All fruits and vegetables. Oh. Water. Water is a Green Light Grow “Drink”.
Yellow Light foods are “slow down” foods.
While foods that fit in this category are okay to eat every day and are essential to your health, they should be eaten in moderation. Too much of a good thing really is no good! Examples of Yellow Light foods include: whole wheat pasta, eggs, chicken, salmon, nuts and seeds, rice, whole grain bread, and yogurt.
If you are calorie counting: These foods have more calories than Green Light foods and usually have more fat or sugar as well.
Red Light foods are “stop” and think foods.
Since these foods are low in nutrients, high in sugar and contain artificial sweeteners and ingredients, you should try and find a healthier option, or eat a smaller portion. Examples of Red Light foods include: cookies, candy, fatty meats, sugary drinks, bacon and other processed meats and frozen yogurt.
If you are calorie counting: These foods are lower in nutrients and higher in calories, fat and sugar.
What are your favorite Green Light Foods? While you answer this question also check out this post about creating your Super Fridge to beat the fat – The Answer to Obesity is In Your Refrigerator. And this one if you need any convincing to drink more water – Hydration Matters: Drink More Water.
P.S. Here are my Go-To Green light foods, depending on seasons and availability.
• Fights Infections & Natural Antibiotic: Tomatoes, Spinach, Garlic
• High in protein, extremely beneficial to diabetics and is considered one of the top ten vegetables: Artichoke
• Natural expectorant (for coughs): Chili peppers, radishes, onions
• Protects against environmental pollutants which cause cancer: Berries, red grapes, celery
• Top 3 fruits over all: Avocado, papaya, guava – Also because I love the taste of these.
P.P.S. Also check out this post about Energizing Morning Routines Part 1 – Breakfast..