Traffic Light Eating: A Diet Alternative

How to Implement the Traffic Light Eating Diet Alternative

The food industry seems to be constantly changing its mind on what the latest fad is. During the 90’s it was all about the low-fat foods. Today, gluten-free diets and paleo are the buzzwords. It’s exhausting trying to keep up! Luckily, Dr. Sears has a very helpful, science-based approach to eating called Traffic Light Eating. The Traffic Light Eating diet alternative is a way to empower you to make informed and educated food choices that support overall wellness.

Just like when driving a car, green foods are “go,” yellow foods tells us to “slow down,” and red foods are “stop” and think foods.  By following the Traffic Light Eating steps, you can you stop looking to the food industry for recommendations on how to eat and feel more confident in making healthy food choices yourself.

Finding Green Light Foods

While grocery shopping, it’s very easy to shop following Traffic Light Eating principles and if you have kids, it can make a trip to the store fun! Green light foods are “grow” foods, “make your skin clear” foods or “energy” foods. This means they support your body’s ability to maintain overall wellness. Green light foods include all fruits and vegetables and are often located around the perimeter of the store. Head to the perimeter first and fill your cart with as many green light foods as possible. Here are some healthy Green Light food recipes to add to your repertoire.

Need a Green Light recipe inspiration? Try this Winter Roasted Veggie recipe!

Winter Roasted Veggies

  • 2 yams, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 pound of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp. of fresh herbs like rosemary or marjoram
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup


  • Preheat the oven to 450°. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and put it in the oven to heat.
  • In a sauce pan over low heat, sauté the avocado oil, garlic and fresh herbs for 30 minutes.
  • Toss the veggies in a large bowl with the heated garlic herb oil, adding the maple syrup as well.
  • Remove the heated baking sheet from the oven and arrange the veggies in a single layer on the sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven.
  • Check the veggies after 15 minutes and cook until fork tender and golden brown, about another 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and serve immediately.



Finding Yellow and Red Light Foods

As you move toward the inner aisles of the grocery store, you will find more and more Yellow and Red Light foods. Yellow Light foods are okay to eat in moderation and include rice, noodles, eggs, lean meat, chicken, olive oil, fish, cheese and foods made from soy products. You should buy whole grain options and organic when possible, or at the very least, stick to the Dirty Dozen List! Look for healthy cheeses, Greek Yogurt, and even good dairy free milk alternatives from the Yellow Light food options, often in the refrigerated section across from the produce section.

Red Light foods are found deeper in the grocery store aisles, in the center of the store. Red Light foods are low in nutrients and high in calories, sugar, hydrogenated oils, or trans-fats. Red Light foods include cookies, candy, pastries, fatty meat and white bread. It’s best to avoid Red Light foods as much as possible and stick to the Green and Yellow Light foods found along the outside perimeter of the grocery store.

Smart Shopping Tips

Besides shopping from a Traffic Light Eating diet alternative perspective, there are a few other recommendations Dr. Sears makes to help you shop smart. Some key smart shopping tips include:

  • Shop after eating a healthy meal
  • Buy store-brand versions
  • Look for sales and stock up
  • Vary proteins with nuts, beans, eggs and peanut butter
  • Shop in bulk at club stores

It can be confusing to navigate the grocery store. Keep the process simple by shopping with the Traffic Light Eating diet alternative idea in mind and you will be amazed by how much better your whole family will feel.

molly ritvoMolly Ritvo is Certified Health Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute. She works with clients of all ages in person and via phone and offers wellness workshops in and around the Burlington, VT area. You can learn more about Molly and the various services she offers on her website