Traffic lights have 3 distinct colors. Unless times have changed, this is one of the first lessons a growing child gets. I still see the big words on the black board; RED is for STOP, YELLOW is for GET SET, GREEN is for GO. My young self always got excited when we got to traffic lights and I saw these colors. My teachers at that moment in time felt like magicians and the fact that I could interpret the colors added to the glow. But we are not talking about road signs today. We will use the traffic light colors to help us put our food habits in order. Call it the Food traffic lights
GREEN (Best choices)
With these choices of food, you are SAFE. These are foods that will do your body so much justice. They are usually good sources of important nutrients, low in saturated fat (bad fat), added sugar and/or salt, lower in energy, higher in fibre. They follow the recommended food groups religiously.
- grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
- vegetables and legumes/beans
- milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced-fat
- lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans
YELLOW (Choose carefully)
With these foods you want to be so careful at the portions you serve or consume. Foods in this category have moderate amounts of saturated fat, added sugar and/or salt. They contribute excess amounts of energy if taken frequently. Limit the portions if you must eat them more often.
- Refined cereals
- sweet and savoury muffins, fruit breads, sweet pastries and slices that are a small to medium serve size or have been modified (e.g. reduced levels of fat and/or sugar and include fibre).
- Full cream diary products like milk and yoghurt
- Artificially sweetened soft drinks.
Yellow foods and drinks should not dominate the choices available. Offering mostly ‘yellow food’ items will eventually provide excess energy at the expense of nutrient-rich ‘Green food’ options that are needed for optimal health and vitality.
RED (Limit these)
These are foods I love to call reward foods. You do not reward yourself every second, hour or week. Keep it simple. Once in a while keeps the game exciting. So should be with these foods too. These foods more than often are the ingredients to being overweight and obese as well as other chronic diseases if consumed frequently.
- All deep fried foods.
- Plain and flavoured cakes, cream-filled cakes, sweet pastries, sweet pies and slices.
- High fat processed meats
- Pastries for example pies, pasties, sausage rolls, samosas.
- Cream filled biscuits, chocolate biscuits and any sweet biscuit.
- sugar-sweetened fruit drinks
- Alcoholic, carbonated and caffeinated drinks
On this highway street called life, take a pause and check which traffic sign you have got to respect, lest you crash.