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Traffic Light Eating Method: The Best Foods for YOU

Traffic Light Eating Method: The Best Foods for YOU

Good nourishment isn’t about pursuing the principles.

The healthiest individuals we know aren’t cardboard slash-outs of perfection.

In reality, you could possibly be shocked how they eat.

That’s due to the fact as an alternative of adhering to somebody else’s diet program information, they’ve created a particular foodstuff list based on their possess nutritional quirks.

You could not predict their lists if you tried out.

They choose into account not just nourishment, but also their personal style preferences and how foodstuff make them experience.

This approach leaves area for ice cream and tortilla chips and gummy bears—and does not involve them to try to eat “healthy” foodstuff they cannot stand (or are not in a position to tolerate).

And you know what? The process functions truly nicely.

It lets these people to try to eat nutritiously, take pleasure in their meals, and really feel “in control” all over food—without sensation limited or deprived.

The most effective aspect: Any person can do this. (In actuality, we’ve been productively employing it with our clients—over 100,000 people—for additional than a decade.)

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Introducing the traffic light having technique.

Before we carry on: If observing the name of this process would make you A) recoil in anger, B) roll your eyes, or C) search for the again button, listen to us out.

Certainly, it is a small controversial. The cause: Some organizations use a likewise-named method to give a set of food stuff procedures that apply to everybody.

This is not that.

Making use of our program, you are going to outline your own “green mild,” “yellow light-weight,” and “red light” meals based on how they work for you. (And spoiler alert: “Red light” does not suggest lousy.)

As you’ll see, diet-top quality is an crucial aspect in deciding on foods—but it’s not the only one particular. Your likes and dislikes, practices, plans, and physiology all enjoy a job, way too.

Let us walk by means of it.

Inexperienced gentle food items = at any time, anyplace foodstuff

These are meals you consume often and with ease. You can eat them typically, little by little, and in affordable amounts.

Entire foodstuff typically make up most of this record, but it may well also involve foods that you delight in purely for enjoyment, in amounts that operate very well for you.

Nutrient density is not the only criteria listed here: Your “green lights” are meals that you delight in, align with your culture and life-style, and make your physique and/or mind feel superior.

And, while we encourage mindful taking in, inexperienced mild foodstuff are types you really do not have to imagine much too substantially about. You just eat and delight in them: basic as that.

Yellow light meals = “sometimes” / “maybe” / “small doses” foodstuff

Your “yellow lights” are foodstuff you may possibly try to eat once in a while, with a diploma of warning or mindfulness.

Maybe they set off a bit of indigestion (but not a complete-scale unexpected emergency excursion to the restroom).

Potentially you desire to enjoy them in small, chunk-sized doses. Or only on sure situations, like out at a restaurant with buddies.

It’s worthy of noting that yellow gentle food items don’t have to be “problem” meals.

They could be wholesome foods you integrate into your food plan, at times.

It’s possible you are “meh” about eggplant, but you’ll consume it when your lover cooks it, or it’s portion of a restaurant dish.

Or you’ll try to eat tofu once a week on “meatless Mondays.”

Or you cook okra, but only on the weekends when you have time to make it just right.

We’d consider these yellow light foodstuff.

As you can see, “yellows” can be any type of food items. Alcohol and particular “junk foods” may well wind up in this category, but heck, so could kale.

Purple light-weight foods = food items you generally avoid, decrease, or make much less out there

Red light foodstuff aren’t bad. They are just food items that you select not to try to eat (at minimum most of the time).

Crimson light-weight foodstuff may possibly not perform for you due to the fact:

  • They do not assist you accomplish your objectives
  • You normally overeat them
  • You are allergic to them
  • You cannot effortlessly digest them
  • You just really don’t like them

Ultra-processed foods normally drop into this category since quite a few people obtain that, as soon as they start out eating them, they can not quit. Some people even simply call them “trigger meals,” mainly because just after having a one chunk, they blink, and the couch is lined in Cheeto dust and vacant ice product cartons.

Once more, this does not mean you avoid these foods all the time.

For illustration, you may not want to hold the freezer stocked with cheesecake, but perhaps you are going to happily love a generous slice on a unique celebration.

At the exact same time, so-referred to as “healthy” food items can wind up on the pink light-weight record much too.

If broccoli tends to make you gag, put it on the crimson light-weight list. (Simply because who would like to consume meals they despise?)

If apples cause you to split out in hives, that is a pink light-weight.

If plain, baked rooster breast would make you feel like a deprived dieter, you guessed it—red light-weight food.

Worthy of reiterating: Placing something on your crimson gentle list does not mean you can never take in it once again. In actuality, unless of course you have severe allergies, it can be worth experimenting with now and then.

You could possibly improve to appreciate some thing you at the moment dislike. Or come to be better at having it in moderation.

Hold up: Could not the visitors light-weight process endorse disgrace, guilt, or disordered patterns?

Our reply: It relies upon on how you use it.

The plan driving the PN targeted visitors light process isn’t to label foods or follow a certain procedure “perfectly.”

The goal, instead, is to make consciousness about which food items operate most effective for you, and which ones really don’t. So you can make educated choices for you.

But not all targeted traffic light-weight units are developed equal.

Some plans out there use the visitors gentle method far too, but they use it differently than PN.

They use it centered purely on their interpretation of nutritional value, to show which food items should really make up the bulk of your diet regime (eco-friendly), which foods you should eat in moderation (yellow), and which foodstuff you should take in infrequently and in tiny portions (crimson). And the checklist is the correct exact same for everybody.

Our method is distinct, for a few of factors:

1st, we really do not want to counsel that certain foods are “bad” or off-boundaries.

The data we’ve witnessed (and our knowledge operating with consumers) tells us that restriction often qualified prospects to much more problematic eating behaviors, not fewer.

And even though we do present equipment to aid people make additional healthful possibilities, our significant intention is to enable customers make advancements and changes that truly feel ideal for them.

What’s a lot more, when employed as an recognition-setting up software, we’ve uncovered the website traffic gentle eating strategy can in fact assistance individuals move absent from disordered behavior, and expertise a bigger feeling of self-efficacy, flexibility, and pleasure with their food stuff selections.

That can really feel lifestyle-altering.

When you know which meals do the job nicely for you, which types are “meh,” and which types result in undesired issues, food decisions become simpler.

Furthermore, you can adapt your targeted visitors lights at any time. They evolve with you.

Better nevertheless, you make decisions based on YOU. Your overall body, your brain, your wellness. Not an individual else’s diet regime, meal plan, points, or policies.

Your dietary decisions grow to be fewer rigid and additional flexible. Foods becomes a lot less tense, not much more.

A particular note for coaches

If you are a coach, we extremely persuade you to begin collecting information and facts about your client’s food stuff preferences ideal from the start off.

In PN Coaching, we do this as portion of our shopper ingestion. We understand from the commencing about our clients’ likes, dislikes, allergies, intolerances, and so on.

It is critical to know your client’s starting up place before producing any dietary tips.

After all, there’d be no position in recommending meat to a vegetarian, or peanut butter to a person who’s allergic to nuts, or seafood to anyone who lives in the desert, or a little something “soooo tasty” to a person who’s undergoing chemotherapy and can not style a darn detail.

Particular preferences aren’t the only issue to contemplate.

If you’re a nourishment mentor, you will however want to educate your client which food items are most healthy and will be most appropriate for their plans.

(Our food spectrum infographic can be a definitely valuable instrument for that.)

Around time, your shopper may perhaps create more appreciation for healthful foods.

If their food plan at the moment has a ton of remarkably-processed foods, they could not have a lot of complete meals on their “green” record appropriate now. But tastes can change. Quite a few people today locate that as they commence to eat far more minimally-processed foods, they locate them more palatable.

For example, if your shopper categorizes all veggies as a “yuck / barf,” perhaps you can enable find a vegetable or two that suits their yellow gentle (and maybe ultimately environmentally friendly light) record.

(To assistance your client build a flavor for veggies, look at out: What to do when you really don’t like veggies.)

Want some examples? Here’s what our targeted traffic lights glance like.

All over again, there is no established targeted traffic-light-weight list for each particular person. Even though in general, whole foodstuff this kind of as greens, fruit, and lean proteins are a great strategy, when it will come to unique foods, you might have a various record.

To help you superior have an understanding of how that functions, here are a handful of individual illustrations from people at PN.

Let us start with the authors of this report.

Brian St. Pierre, MS, RD, Director of Nourishment and Functionality at PN

Image shows "Brian's Traffic Light Foods" and gives the reasoning for each. They are as follows: Green: Chicken thighs, salmon, Greek yogurt, eggs, tofu, sirloin, shrimp, spinach, carrots, cucumbers, onions, peppers, cauliflower, bananas, strawberries, apples, oranges, potatoes, pasta, whole grain breads, black beans, avocado, roasted almonds, peanut butter, dark chocolate, coffee Reasoning: Enjoys a diverse and omnivorous diet. Has no major eating restrictions, and is willing to try most anything! Yellow: Broccoli, blueberries, milk, wine, beer, guacamole, ice cream (especially french vanilla), chocolate chip cookies, green tea Reasoning: Enjoys broccoli, blueberries, and milk, but large portions cause digestive upset. Enjoys wine and beer with spouse and/or friends, but mindful of overall consumption. Likes guacamole (and french vanilla ice cream / chocolate chip cookies) too much, and can over-consume if not mindful. Drinks green tea for its health benefits, but much prefers coffee! Red: Reese’s peanut butter cups, potato chips (especially if combined with friends and alcohol), fresh brownies Reasoning: Will definitely overeat Reese’s and fresh, moist brownies (but not ones with cake-like texture)! Will mindlessly munch on chips.

Camille DePutter, PN Coach and Adviser

Image shows "Cam's Traffic Light Foods" and gives the reasoning for each. They are as follows: Green: chicken, tofu, kale, broccoli, sweet potato fries, eggplant, red pepper, mushrooms, eggs, sashimi, berries, yogurt, ice cream, hot sauce, herbs, tomatoes, dark chocolate, coffee, whey protein powder, gefilte fish, brisket Reasoning: Appreciates a wide variety of foods and flavors. Feels best on an omnivorous diet; tolerates dairy well; likes spice; loves to eat from the garden. Enjoys foods from her partner’s Ashkenazi Jewish culture. Yellow: dried and canned beans, white bread, bagels, bagged chips, candy, cocktail, glass of wine, parsnips Reasoning: beans and white bread products cause digestive discomfort in large or regular doses. Enjoys processed treat foods and alcoholic beverages but easy to over-consume. Not a big fan of parsnips. Red: mussels, yellow lentils, red lentils, oreo cookies, cheesies, chips with dip. Reasoning: Allergic to mussels. Extreme digestive discomfort from lentils. Will over-consume certain treat foods (indulges, but more rarely).

Now here’s a record from Krista Scott Dixon, PhD, Director of Curriculum at Precision Diet.

Image shows "Krista's Traffic Light Foods" and gives the reasoning for each. They are as follows: Green: chicken, steak, bbq ribs, grasshoppers, snails, fish, assorted eggs, seaweed, kale, berries, coconut, avocado, white rice, oats, cob of corn, almonds, soybeans, tofu, dark chocolate, white potato, yam Reasoning: Appreciates a wide variety of foods and enjoys an omnivorous diet. (Will try anything once, especially while traveling.) Can digest/tolerate these foods well. Yellow: dried beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, popcorn, whole peaches, apples Reasoning: Can't tolerate beans or legumes well; intolerance to FODMAPs (okay in small doses); popcorn (triggers digestive issues in large doses); oral allergy to raw stone fruit and raw apples (okay if cooked). Red: Kimchi, wine bottle, milk carton, whole grain bread, watermelon, chips, milk chocolate, chili pepper, dried fruit, lobster Reasoning: Yeast and mold allergies, histamine intolerance, dairy intolerance, grain intolerance, intolerance to spice, dried fruit and melon, hates the taste of certain shellfish

What about a scientist? Here’s the list of Helen Kollias, PhD, Science Advisor at Precision Nutrition.

Image shows "Helen's Traffic Light Foods" and gives the reasoning for each. They are as follows: Green: Cup of coffee, green super shake, steak, trout filet, quinoa, wild rice, oranges, navy beans, spinach, oregano, feta cheese, broccoli, sweet potato, edamame, carrots, chickpeas, string beans, chicken breast, pork ribs, brussels sprouts, berries Reasoning: Enjoys foods of her Greek heritage; no allergies or major intolerances; pretty easy-going eater; aims to eat a nutritionally balanced diet without too many rules or regulations. Yellow: gin and tonic in a nice cocktail glass with ice in it and a straw, Tortilla chips and salsa, milk carton, pasta, baguette Reasoning: enjoys an occasional cocktail with friends. (If drinking at home buys a single can of tonic as to not over-consume.) Enjoys tortilla chips and salsa; can digest corn chips better than potato chips. Dairy may cause congestion if over-consumed; white bread / pasta doesn’t sit well in large amounts Red: Large bottle of tonic water. Whole green pepper. Sour cream & onion chips, ketchup chips, fish crackers. Chili pepper. Lamb Reasoning: Will over-consume tonic water, potato chips and crackers, and doesn’t feel good after. Hates raw green pepper. Doesn’t do well with spice. Not a fan of lamb.


Want to make your very own list—or support a shopper with theirs?

Begin by utilizing our Pink-Yellow-Eco-friendly Meals Worksheet.

To put your listing into follow, here’s a suggestion: Keep mainly “green” foods useful and offered. You are going to in a natural way eat far more of them.

And, if you want to take in fewer foodstuff on your “yellow” or “red” gentle list, you can make your daily life much easier by only not shopping for them. (That way you have to work out fewer willpower when you get home.)

That mentioned, you can also choose to eat food items that Do not get the job done for you. Unless of course you are deathly allergic, eating from your “red light” listing is usually an choice.

Either way, you are in command, and you know what to assume. (Go through: “If I go ahead and eat this purple-mild foods, I could eat a entire large amount of it versus deciding upon a thing from my environmentally friendly-gentle list. Right now, I’m alright with that.”)

When utilized as a way to get to know your self improved and make conscious decisions, this process is not restrictive. It is liberating.

For extra insight into how this performs, here’s a look at how PN co-founder Dr. John Berardi chooses his foods, from lemon drinking water (“green light”) to pink peppers (“red light”).

Your romantic relationship to particular foods will transform in excess of time—and which is a very good issue.

The only frequent in everyday living, and human beings, is alter.

Your preferences might transform as you age. Your priorities could modify, as well. Sometimes new allergic reactions and intolerances kind. (And if you’re genuinely lucky, some could go away.)

Don’t let your “traffic lights” define you or preserve you stuck.

As an alternative, look at them an prospect to get to know you superior as you evolve and improve.

As Alice said while in Wonderland, “I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve improved a several periods given that then.”

We’re all a bit like Alice. Could possibly as well appreciate the experience.

If you’re a coach, or you want to be…

You can help folks make nourishment and life-style behaviors that boost their bodily and mental health, bolster their immunity, enable them much better deal with stress, and get sustainable outcomes. We will demonstrate you how.

If you’d like to master more, consider the PN Amount 1 Diet Coaching Certification.