Go – Slow – Whoa

Ever wish you could teach your kids about healthy foods without totally jading them into the black and white thinking of “good” and “bad?” Moderation truly is the key to success with a healthy diet and lifestyle. Well look no further, here’s a super simple way to begin introducing this concept – Go! Slow! and Whoa! pssst…teachers! Take a look below for some resources to incorporate into your classroom!

This is another traffic light approach to wellness. Kids love this, so it works really well with introducing the concept. I taught this lesson at my son’s 4K class and they LOVED it. They were old enough to really nail down which group foods belonged to. Ever since, my son will make comments about foods being slow foods so we should only have a little or something being a go food so you should try it. It’s great to see this translate through to real life.

GO foods are foods that we can eat every day, multiple times a day. 

SLOW foods are foods that we can eat most days of the week, up to once a day. There is a wide range of foods that fit into this category.

WHOA foods are foods that we should only have a few times a month, up to once a week. These are typical treats or what many would call “bad” or “cheat” foods (but I hate that terminology…)

The NHLBI has some great resources on the topic. Here’s a parent handout you can review if you want to learn more.

So what foods are in each category? I’ll preface with this being my professional belief about how these foods fit into each category.

Go Foods: All whole fruits, all whole vegetables, all unsweetened dairy products, and 100% whole grain items. Now I don’t mean goldfish that are made with whole-grain. These really aren’t 100% whole grain. I mean cracked wheat bread, barley, brown rice, and old fashioned oats. Things are nutty and hearty without lots of processing. 

Slow foods: This can be tricky but basically anything that isn’t GO and isn’t WHOA is slow. In general, this would include things like those whole-grain goldfish crackers, dried fruit, nuts, sweetened dairy products and things that are often considered “healthy snacks” (like fiber bars or supplement drinks). 

Whoa Foods: these are indulgent foods that are often called “bad” or “cheat” foods, which psychologically actually makes us want them more, but that’s for another post. These are things like fried chicken, french fries, ice cream, cookies, pastries, etc. They have very little nutritional value and a high tendency for us to become dependent or feel addicted to them. These are any food you turn to when you are trying to use food as an emotional coping strategy.

There is a great slide deck you can use in the classroom to teach kids this concept. Check it out in my shared google drive folder here or over at nhlbi. Feel free to reach out if you are trying to incorporate this concept into your classroom. I would LOVE for you to spread the word and help empower kids to make health choices!

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