By 1LT Britain SeaburnNovember 22, 2013
By: 1LT Britain Seaburn
Do you remember the "Red Light, Green Light" running game from childhood?
The game involves running toward a goal, while obeying "red light," "yellow light," and "green light" commands to stop, speed up, or run.
"Go For Green" is a nutrition education program developed to assist hospital dining facilities to simplify healthy food choices for patrons.
Your Nutrition Care Division team members want to make it as easy as possible to help you choose healthy eating options.
The "Go For Green" program is designed to keep you out of unhealthy traffic jams as an adult, by following simple rules of the road that children can understand.
Healthy eating can seem complicated.
But "Go For Green" is child's play. It's a color-coded labeling system with a quick synopsis of nutritional value.
And if eating healthy seems complicated to you, then eating healthy to specifically increase performance may add additional complexity to proper diet.
Since this color-coding method of classification is based on how foods impact performance, the added complexity is effectively dealt with.
"Green" foods are high performance foods that can have a positive impact on your health and performance.
These foods are typically nutrient dense, lower in fat and calories, higher in vitamins and minerals, and should be chosen often.
If it's labeled "Green," eat it for health and performance.
For example, foods such as fresh fruit, steamed vegetables, whole grain products, baked poultry without skin, and fat-free/low-fat dairy products would have a "green" label.
If you can still remember the rules, and played "Red Light, Green Light" properly as a kid, then the "Yellow light" may throw you a curve.
But since you're an adult now, you know not to speed up at yellow lights, so this is where our adolescent driving game example takes a grown-up, more responsible turn.
"Amber" foods are moderate performance foods that should be chosen less often. These foods tend to be higher in fat and calories, and lower in vitamins and minerals than "green" foods.
Examples of foods with an "Amber" label include whole eggs, white bread, reduced-fat dairy products, vegetables with added fat, and fruit with added sugar.
Stop at Red Lights.
Foods are labeled "Red" if they can hinder health and performance.
These foods are highest in fat and calories, lowest in vitamins and minerals, and should be eaten rarely.
Red-labeled foods include high-fat meats, fried foods, pastries, fruit canned in heavy syrup, full-fat dairy products, energy drinks, and soda.
Understanding dietary labels and making healthy choices as you pass through a serving line can be complex.
However, with the simple "Go For Green" labeling system, all the guesswork has already been done for you.
Like the game "Red Light, Green Light," just remember to "Go For Green" when building a healthy plate.
(Editor's Note: 1LT Britain Seaburn is the chief of nutrition education at General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital)