Different foods have different amounts of nutrients, but how do you know which foods have more or less? In many of our nutrition lessons and activities, we use a model called “Red-Light, Green-Light, and Yellow-Light” foods to identify which choices have the most nutrients and which have fewer. It’s a fun and easy way to teach kids how to make their own nutritious food choices.
Sanford fit uses stoplight colors to explain which foods we should eat most often and which should be eaten least often.
“Green-light” foods have the highest levels of nutrition. Eat more! These foods can be eaten at any time and provide your body and brain with the most fuel. Examples of green-light foods include whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, milk, and water.
“Yellow-light” foods have some nutrition, but not as much as green-light foods do. Eat some! They tend to have more fat, added sugars, and/or calories than the green-light options. Yellow-light foods can be enjoyed sometimes, but not all the time. Examples of yellow-light foods include dried fruit, flavored yogurt, 100% fruit juice, granola bars, and veggies with sauce.
“Red-light” foods have the lowest nutritional value for your brain and body. Eat less! These food choices usually contain high levels of sugar or fats, and should be replaced with food choices from green and yellow-light options. Foods in the red-light category include chips, candy, fried food, cake, donuts, and soda.
It's important to understand that there are no good or bad food choices, but there are nutritional options that are better than others. Food is your body’s fuel, and fueling up with nutritious foods will make your body and brain feel amazing! Food is fuel, and body and brain deserve to be fueled well.
If you’re ready to use the stoplight in your classroom or at home, start here:
Red Food, Green Food
Think Your Snack Food
Paths to Healthy Snack Options for Kids
Eat More, Eat Some, Eat Less Food Chart