Do you have a picky eater, or a child who prefers high-fat and sugary junk food, to the point where they are ignoring their body’s need for real nutrients?
It is not uncommon these days for parents to struggle to get their children to eat better. In all my years of working with families the best way to help children eat healthy is to teach them Traffic Light Eating.
Just like when we are driving a car, a traffic light tells us what to do:
Green means “go”
Yellow tells us to “slow down”
Red means “stop” and think
What are Green Light Foods?
Green light foods are “grow” foods. Which include all fruits and vegetables. Green light foods are: grown and not manufactured, low in calories, high in nutrients, colorful, and usually can be eaten raw. You want to help your child learn to eat as much of these foods as they want.
What are Yellow Light Foods?
Yellow light foods are “slow down” foods. Yellow light foods include: pasta, rice, bread, tortillas, noodles, eggs, lean meat, chicken, low fat yogurt, nuts and seeds, olive oil, soy foods, whole grains, fish, low fat cheese, and vegetable oil. Yellow light foods can be eaten every day; in moderation.
What are Red Light Foods?
Red light foods are “stop” and think foods. Red light foods are low in nutrients; high in calories, fat or sugar; or contain artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, or trans-fats. They include: butter, cookies, candy, frozen yogurt, fatty meats, pastries, chips, and white bread. When we come across a red light food, we should make a different choice or eat a smaller portion.
Tips to Apply Traffic Light Eating:
- Encourage your picky eater to eat more green "go" foods by keeping sliced fruits and vegetables readily available. - Provide dips, such as yogurt or hummus, and allow your child to “play” with his food by dipping it as he goes. - Don’t keep sweets in the house. When they’re not available, your child will be more willing to eat the nutritious foods.
- At dinner, talk about which foods are green light foods, which foods are yellow light foods, and which foods (if any) are red light foods. - Use Traffic Light Eating to model healthy eating yourself! Remember that our children are paying attention to what we eat, and setting a positive example is the key to turning healthy eating into a regular habit.
Whether you’re dealing with a picky eater in particular, or you just want to encourage your children to choose more healthy foods, Traffic Light Eating makes eating healthy simple and fun.