Lots of kids want to know which foods to eat to be healthy or lose weight. Most kids don't need to be on diets, but here's something kids can do to eat healthier: Learn the difference between Go, Slow, and Whoa foods.
You probably know that foods fit in different categories. MyPlate puts them into these categories:
But foods also can be classified in three groups: Go, Slow, and Whoa. The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (part of the National Institutes of Health) suggests kids think about whether foods are Go foods, Slow foods, or Whoa foods.
These are foods that are good to eat almost anytime. They are the healthiest ones. Example: skim and low-fat milk.
These are sometimes foods. They aren't off-limits, but they shouldn't be eaten every day. At most, eat them several times a week. Example: waffles and pancakes.
These foods should make you say exactly that — Whoa! Should I eat that? Whoa foods are the least healthy and the most likely to cause weight problems, especially if a person eats them all the time. That's why Whoa foods are once-in-a-while foods. Example: French fries.
Below you'll find a chart of Go, Slow, and Whoa foods. You can print this article so you can refer to the chart and learn which foods are which.
As you use the chart, you might have questions about what some of the words mean. We've provided some definitions below the chart to explain things like "extra-lean," "trans fats," and "whole grains." Be sure to show the chart to your mom and dad, too. Then everyone in the family can learn when to say Go and when to say Whoa!
Added fats or sauces: You'll see that vegetables are on the Go list, but only when they're prepared without added fats or sauces. That means they are steamed, boiled, baked, or grilled without adding butter, other oils, or sauce.
Light syrup and heavy syrup: Fresh and frozen fruits are on the Go list because they don't contain added sugar. But sometimes canned or packaged fruits are packed in syrup. Light syrup is OK, putting those fruits on the Slow list. But heavy syrup is really sugary, so those kinds of fruits are on the Whoa list.
Whole grains: Whole grains contain more fiber and nutrients than white flour, which is used to make white bread, pasta, and lots of other stuff. Instead, look for foods that contain these ingredients:
Trans fats: Hydrogenated oils fall into this category. This kind of oil is used in crackers and snack foods, but it's been found to be very unhealthy for your heart.
Types of milk: Milk comes in more varieties than just white and chocolate! Skim milk and 1% milk have the least fat, so they're on the Go list, while 2% milk has a little more fat, so it's on the Slow list. Whole milk has the most fat, so it's on the Whoa list.
Extra-lean and lean beef: Your mom or dad probably decides which kind of ground beef to get at the store. Ground beef is used to make hamburgers, meatballs, taco filling, and other foods kids like. But there's more than one kind of ground beef. Stores sell it with different amounts of fat in it. The healthiest kind — extra-lean — has the least amount of fat, so it's on the Go list. Lean ground beef has a little more fat, so it's on the Slow list. Regular ground beef has the highest percentage of fat, so it's on the Whoa list.
Now that you know the difference between Go, Slow, and Whoa foods, you can smart choices for healthy eating!