Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light Food Chart

Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light Food Chart For A Healthier You


Childhood obesity is one of the most alarming health issues the world faces right now. In fact, the rate of childhood obesity continues to increase every year, according to the World Health Organization.

One big factor that contributes to the rate of childhood obesity is poor food choices. And, there are also several factors that result to childhood obesity. As a result, various health problems will start to appear once they reach adulthood. This can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression.

So, if you have a picky eater who prefers sweets and junk food over fruits and vegetables, do something about it. One of the best ways to motivate your child to eat healthier is by following the “red light, yellow light, green light” food chart. This is also known as Traffic Light Eating.

What is Traffic Light Eating?

Most of us of what traffic lights are. We all know how a it works. Red is to stop. Yellow is to slow down. Green is for go. This same concept applies to Traffic Light Eating, which involves the “red light, yellow light, green light” food chart.

In this chart, food choices are classified from healthiest to those that should be avoided. The UK Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labelling Scheme is already being implemented in the country. This helps identify the important nutrients and some not-so-healthy ingredients of some supermarket products. To know more about this eating scheme, you can check out this video

The three food classifications under the Traffic Light Eating scheme are the following:

1. “Green Light” Foods

This category is considered the healthiest food choices. These include good sources of essential nutrients that are good for growing bodies. Foods low in saturated fat, added sugar and salt, less calories, and high fiber content belong in this particular category.

Children should be encouraged to eat foods that are under this category. Mostly, foods under ‘Green Light” foods are organically-grown and unprocessed. Among food items considered to be under this category include the following:

  • ​​Fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and vegetables (in its own juice or water, without added fat or flavoring)
  • Whole-grain in brown rice, bread, pasta, tortilla, crackers, etc.
  • Air-popped popcorn
  • Chicken or turkey (skin removed)
  • Fish
  • Boiled eggs
  • Extra lean meat including beef and pork (with less fat trimmings)
  • Fat-free dairy including yogurt, milk, cheese, etc.
  • Water

2. “Yellow Light” Foods

Under this category are foods that we need to choose carefully. Like in traffic rules, you should “slow down” when eating foods. But, it does not mean you cannot eat these foods anymore. They still contain nutrients that can be beneficial for our bodies but we cannot take them every day, in every meal.

Among acceptable foods under this category are the following: 

  • ​​Canned fruits in light syrup
  • Fruits high in fat (ex. avocado)
  • Vegetables sautéed in oil or served in dips or sauces
  • Cereals and pastries made from refined flour or refined grains
  • Low-fat popcorn
  • Lean meat
  • Baked beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Low-fat dairy including yogurt, milk, cheese, etc.
  • 100% fruit juice

3. “Red Light” Foods

These foods should be taken with extra caution. These are foods that mostly contain low nutrients. They also have high sugar, calories, hydrogenated fats, cholesterol, and other artificial ingredients. These foods should not be consumed on a daily basis. It can lead to health problems such as weight gain and other diseases.

Among “Red Light” foods to limit or avoid as much as possible are the following: 

  • ​​Fruits in heavy syrup
  • Fried foods including vegetables, chicken, pork, eggs, etc. 
  • Popcorn with flavorings
  • Doughnuts, croissants, biscuits, bagels, and the like
  • Processed meat such as sausages, hotdogs, etc.
  • Full-cream milk and other high-fat dairy products
  • Sweetened fruit juices, sodas, and the like
  • Chips
  • Candies and chocolates

You can check out this red light, yellow light, green light food chart you can buy online if you need visuals to remind your family to eat healthy.

In summary

As a parent, you only want what is best for your children. One of which is teaching them to eat healthy. Other healthy eating tips you can apply for your family are the following:

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    ​​Make healthy foods. Make fruits and vegetables readily available at home
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    Avoid buying sweets and junk foods as much as possible
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    Be a role model. Kids usually observe and copy their parents and learn from them. Start the Traffic Light Eating method, and your kids will surely follow!

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