Here’s a new concept. And, no, I can’t take credit for it. Chalene Johnson gets it all! But, it may be a different way of looking at food for you. We are going to pledge right now to stop categorizing food as “good” and “bad.” Instead I want you to think about foods as traffic lights. I know you know the reference! Green means GO, yellow means SLOW, and red makes you think quick and STOP!
Consider this: You can have whatever foods you like, but first you must classify them. Before you take a bite decide if it is a “green” light (ALWAYS A GO-like dark colored fruits and veggies, egg whites, green tea, salsa and avocado, lean white meats/fish), a “yellow” light (not horrible for you, but shouldn’t be overdone-like baked fries, baked chips, wine, low calorie beer, thin crust veggie pizza, pretzels, sushi, or lean red meats), or a “red” light (once in a while yummy treat-like onion rings, nachos, cookies, soda/pop, fast food). Utilizing this mind set will help you to have a better relationship with food. Many times our relationship with food becomes a love/hate thing. It SHOULDN’T be that way!!! You eat to fuel yourself, but you also eat to enjoy yourself! So its okay to acknowledge that!
Try this…contemplate your breakfast, lunch, and dinner from yesterday and decide which “lights” they would be under. You need to strive to be in the green and yellow zones and only hit the red light when you really want to! Did you fall into mostly green? What could you change to improve your traffic lights?
Let’s stop and look specifically at GREEN LIGHT FOODS. So what exactly are “Green Light” foods?
Green light foods are the types of foods that provide you with the most nutrition possible. These are your “I should ALWAYS be eating this” type of food. These are the foods that will help you perform at your best and help you stay healthy. The best part about traffic light foods, is that you will create the list yourself. Your list may look a bit different from my list. THAT’S OK!!! We don’t all eat the same types of foods or have the same favorites, but if you look at a type of food and think that it is CLEARLY good for you, then it definitely goes in the Green Light list. Here are some examples of Green Light foods that are on my list:
- dark, colorful vegetables
The list can go on, but these are the typical green light foods that I eat frequently. Go ahead and try to make your list. The fun part is that it is personal to you. Don’t put a food item down that you don’t really eat. And be honest about the foods you DO eat. Also, you may disagree with some of my green lights. That’s okay! It’s my list, not yours!
If your green light list isn’t very long, find ways to stretch it. Consider exploring new food choices.
Now let’s talk about YELLOW LIGHT FOODS! The yellow group is food that is not horrible for you, but that you wouldn’t label as the healthiest possible choice. These foods don’t bring a whole lot of nutritional value to your diet, but they aren’t the worst thing you could be putting into your body. Here’s a list of my “Yellow Foods”
- whole grains (such as breads, pastas, rice, and tortillas)
- pretzels (or other low fat salty snacks)
- sugar free/fat free processed foods
- low sugar/low sodium/low fat sauces and marinades
Again, my list may be different from yours. Try to brainstorm the foods you eat regularly and place them accordingly! Chances are, if you don’t place them in either the green or the yellow groups…you know exactly where they are going. 🙂
Chocolate after my meal, salty chips, nachos at a basketball game, fast food French fries, warm soft baked cookies…these are a few of my guilty pleasures. And I’m not ashamed! Everyone craves different foods at different moments and for different reasons.
Put the candy DOWN!!! 🙂
After making green and yellow light food lists, now is your chance to be honest about your guilty food pleasures. Write down all those yummy treats and acknowledge what you tend to crave. This is going to be helpful for you. Now that you have acknowledged your desire for certain foods, you’ve also labeled them with a red light (which means STOP). You are training your mind to hesitate and THINK before you mindlessly put that cupcake in your mouth. Sure it tastes good, but how many red light foods have you eaten throughout the day? Would it be wise to wait and treat yourself to that cupcake at a later moment? These are now going to be part of your thought process.
Keep traffic light foods on your mind all the time and you won’t go wrong!
Practicing healthy eating means placing value on the thought process behind eating. Try not to eat when you are watching TV or engaged in other activities. Before you just grab the treat in the break room at work, think about whether that moment of enjoyment is worth it in relationship to your goals. If it is, GO FOR IT! If not, you know what to do! 🙂
Eat On, my friends!!!