These days we are constantly being reminded that we should be changing our eating habits—especially when we have diabetes. These are also times when we are surrounded by unlimited choices when it comes to food; fast food, farmer’s markets, restaurants on every corner and grocery stores filled with such a large variety of foods that it can boggle the mind. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone would give us easy-to-follow signs that would make healthy choices a bit easier? Well, some doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital have come up with a great idea: color coding food.
The doctors implemented a plan in their hospital cafeteria to assist their staff and customers in making healthy food choices. Foods like short ribs with mashed potatoes or soda were marked with a red circle and healthy choices like salad and water boasted a green circle. Mid-range items like fish with rice were given a yellow circle. They studied the eating habits of those using the cafeteria for two years and found that the plan was working. Sales of red-coded foods dropped and green-coded foods rose. The effect wasn’t short-lived either; people’s eating habits actually changed.
Anne Thorndike, one of the doctors who conducted the study, was quick to point out that this shouldn’t be viewed as a weight loss plan, but more of a preventative measure; teaching people to choose healthier foods in order to avoid weight gain. However, if someone is encouraged to drink fewer sugary drinks each week, they will most likely lose some weight.
This color coding system could be put into place in a variety of places, including your kitchen. It would be a great way to train kids to choose wisely. A drawer, labeled with green, filled with healthy snack choices would mean that the children could choose freely from that drawer. Red coded snacks would require permission to eat.
I don’t know about you, but I think I’d be less likely to grab something to eat if it had a red sign on it. You can read more about the idea on npr.org.
To learn more on this topic:
Low-Carb Diet Soda Alternatives
Diabetic Diet: Eat Smarter, Not Less
Diabetic Dieting: An Easier Approach to Eating Well