Eat the traffic light way?

Dayton Children’s is developing new ways to encourage healthier eating, along with healthier living.  One of the movements includes taking a look at our cafeteria – how does our food measure up??    How do we convey healthy eating while still allowing for choice?  We like the Traffic Light Diet for its simple message and emphasis on variety.

If you Google Traffic Light Diet, you will find several versions listed.    It is not a fad diet  which allows some foods, while eliminating others.  The Traffic Light way to eating makes you re-think how your plate looks by color-coding foods according to the familiar traffic light (Go, Caution, Stop).

Dayton Children’s adopted the traffic light diet as an educational tool for making healthier food choices. As our cafeteria undergoes a renovation, so too will our food options. We believe in choice, and making the healthy choice an easy choice.   Expect to see changes in and outside of the cafeteria, reflecting this way of thinking about food!

What does this mean?

(Please refer to Johns Hopkins Hospital Traffic Light Diet, our adopted version of this tool, for full explanation)

Green: Go! Fill your plate full of these foods. 

  • Fat free dairy choices
  • Egg whites, beans, tuna in water, skinless and white poultry
  • Whole grain crackers & breads, unsweetened cereals, air popped popcorn
  • Make your plate half full with fresh or frozen vegetables and fruit
  • Drink water and other calorie free beverages and use fat free condiments, no oil salad dressings

Yellow: Caution! Eating some is fine, but not every day. Moderation.

  • Low fat dairy choices
  • Dark poultry without skin, beef > 94% lean, pork loin, tuna in oil, salmon
  • White bread, low fat crackers, white rice & pasta, energy bars
  • Potatoes, peas, corn, sweet potatoes, canned fruit, dried fruit, 100% fruit juice and avocado
  • Low fat ice cream, frozen yogurt, jello, popsicles, granola bars, salad dressing made with oil, light microwave popcorn, baked chips, sports drinks, nuts and natural nut butters

Red: Stop! Rethink your choice.  Can you choose an alternative? Eat few during the week.

  • Whole milk, cottage cheese, ricotta, and sour cream, flavored yogurts and cream soup
  • Beef < 94% lean, poultry with the skin, fried meat, hot dogs, luncheon meats
  • Biscuits, sweetened cereals, high fat crackers, stuffing, macaroni and cheese
  • Potato salad, French fries & tater tots, mashed potatoes
  • Regular ice cream, movie popcorn, pork rinds, non-baked chips, candy, fruit drinks,  soda and regular salad dressings

Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day – Is the Traffic Light way to eating something right for your house??  Take a look at your plate – what color is it??

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We have created this blog as a way to communicate key childrens' health and safety issues to parents and other child advocates. It is managed by Dayton Children's department of marketing communications. Comments can be sent to rodneyg@childrensdayton.org.

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