By Julie Deardorff Chicago Tribune
When little Danielle Dolgoff was just 3 years old, she looked up from her lunch and asked her mom how many calories were in her turkey sandwich.
“It’s a ‘green-light’ food,” pediatrician Joanna Dolgoff told her daughter. “Don’t worry about calories. Just try to make good choices and eat green-light foods.”
The metaphor stuck in their household. Now Dolgoff, who specializes in child and adolescent weight loss, also uses the colors of a traffic light to guide healthful food choices with young clients.
The principles, outlined in her new book, “Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right” ($21.99), are easy for a child to grasp: Green-light foods (Go!) are healthful and should represent the bulk of a day’s intake. Yellow-light foods (Slow!) should be eaten in moderation. And although red-light foods should be restricted, they aren’t forbidden.
Green-light foods usually have high amounts of nutrients and low levels of calories and fat grams, but Dolgoff — addressing the occasional need for convenience — includes “junky” green light foods, such as 100-calorie snack packs.
Yellow-light foods are slightly higher in fat and calories that can be eaten in moderation.
Red-light foods are treats that can be eaten twice a week.
Because many foods are a mixture of ingredients and may count as green, yellow and/or red. Many fast foods, for example, qualify as combination foods. And no foods are off-limits.
Rules of the road
From “Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right”: