Go, Slow, and Whoa: Options for Healthier Eating

We are all hearing about the increase in overweight and obesity in our country and its effects on our health. We know we should eat better and exercise, but we often get mixed messages from the media about how to accomplish this. One way to help us in our food choices is to think about food in three categories: Go, Slow, and Whoa. This method is used by the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) program and is now being used by the national "Let's Move" initiative.

“Go” foods are those that should be eaten every day. They are healthy and provide the proper nutrients and energy for a healthy lifestyle. These can also be thought of as “Every Day Foods”. These include foods that are lowest in fat and sugar and highest in nutrient density. “Go” foods include fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen or canned but without added sugar, fat, or sodium), whole grains, low fat or fat free dairy products, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and egg whites or egg substitutes. We should also focus more on the fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in this mix, and less on the meat and dairy. These fall within the US Dietary Guidelines as well.

“Slow” foods are those that are still largely healthy, but include higher calorie, fat, sugar, and sodium amounts. These foods should be eaten less often than “Go” foods and include vegetables with added fat (butter), 2% milk, lean ground beef, peanut butter, whole eggs, low fat mayonnaise, and foods made with white refined flour, like white bread.

“Whoa” foods are those foods that can be considered a treat or foods eaten for special occasions. These are the high fat, high sugar, high calorie, and low nutrient dense foods like whole milk, whole-fat cheese, untrimmed or fried meats, hot dogs and bacon, fried potatoes, fruit canned in heavy syrup, muffins, croissants, creamy salad dressing, and of course desserts. Note that these guidelines say “Whoa”, not “NO”. These guidelines do not say “Never eat these foods”, but just save them for special occasions and eat small portions when you do eat them. We all enjoys these foods from time to time, but we should eat these foods in moderation and only sometimes. They should be “treats”.

Next time you go shopping, think about “Go, Slow, and Whoa” when you are making your choices. Look at the Nutrition Facts Labels and compare. You can make it a game with your kids and have them identify what category each food should go in. This way they learn about healthy eating as well. Remember to focus on the “Go” foods and limit the others.

To learn more about this, go to http://www.letsmove.gov/choices/index.html and click on the “food choices” link under “Healthy Shopping” on the right hand side of the page. Also, check out more of the links and information on this page. This page provides much information about making healthy choices for yourself, your children and your whole family. This “food choices” link will also give you information about where to go on the web for a more complete list of “Go, Slow, and Whoa” foods to help you when you shop.

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