Stoplight Foods

Stoplight Foods

Location: indoor or outdoor (wherever the meal is being served)

Materials: none

As a teacher it can feel like it's not your role to tell a child what is and isn't good for them to eat, especially because everyone's body has different needs.

So how can we introduce kids to the concept that some foods are better for us than others? Try using the visual of a stoplight when talking about foods.

  • Green light foods are foods that we have the "green light" to eat. Think: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.
  • Yellow light foods are foods that, just like a yellow light tells a car to slow down, we need to slow down when we eat. It's ok to eat them, but we maybe can't eat them all the time. Think: desserts, fried foods
  • Red light foods are foods that we can't eat. Think: food allergies

This framework is one that kids can understand because of the strong connection to something they are already familiar with: the stoplight. It also allows personalization. There comes a point where kids become very fascinated with what each other is doing. That child with the dairy allergy suddenly becomes of great interest during meal times ("Why does she have special milk? I want special milk!"). The language of the stoplight can reinforce that everyone's body needs different things, and "healthy" isn't always a universal concept.