The Traffic Light Diet

traffic lightThis is not a real diet. I made it up after reading a story on NPR suggesting that using colors from a traffic light (green, yellow, red) encourages people to make healthier choices at meal or snack time.

How does it work? The idea is to assign a color to each food, “Green circles with the words ‘Choose Often’ appeared next to healthful, low-fat dishes. Yellow tags got placed next to the not-so-bad-for-you entrees, like baked cod and rice. And comfort foods packed with calories, fat and salt — yes, those short ribs and mashed potatoes — got branded with a bright red circle and a reminder to splurge only occasionally.”

The effect? “After six months, people started changing their eating habits, the researchers found. The number of red, unhealthy items purchased in the cafeteria dropped by 20 percent, while green purchases rose by 12 percent.”

How can I do this at home? Fill one drawer with healthful snacks and then label it green. “Kids can eat whatever they want from that drawer,” she says. Fill another drawer with less healthful snacks and label it red. “Kids have to ask permission to take from this drawer, or they get one of these snacks just on occasion,” Thorndike says.

So the next time you go out for lunch, instead of asking WWJD, ask WWTLD (see article title).

Read the entire story here.