Archive for the ‘Red Light Green Light Eat Right’ Category

Healthy Kids = Healthy Foods

January 7, 2010

Book Review:

Green Light, Red Light, Eat Right
The Food Solution That Let’s Kids Be Kids

Author: Joanna Dolgoff, MD
254 pages (with index)
Price: $14.95 (Amazon)

I jumped at the chance to review this new book written by Dr. Joanna Dolgoff, child obesity expert. I think we all need a bit of a kick-start in the new year by eating right, especially with our kids! Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right is fabulous, not just for the parent of a child who is overweight, but for all parents. Plus there’s the added benefit of having the nutrition tips and insights help the mom and dad in the picture (and I need it for sure)!

Last summer I introduced Dr. Joanna Dolgoff during my summer series. I had run across her site: and especially was impressed with her top ten list of ways to get kids to eat healthier. I have continued a relationship with Joanna via Twitter and have even asked her questions as I’ve had concerns with my children’s eating habits.

She’s been very helpful despite her busy career with two child nutrition practices, being an active mother and her large online presence.

goodncrazy blue dots

No Calorie Counting, No Dieting, No Off-Limit Foods!

This is the promise of Dr. Dolgoff’s food solution nutrition book. The book contains 11 chapters, with titles like:

  • Coming to terms: Is your child really overweight?
  • High Performance Breakfasts
  • Dinner Destinations


  • Restaurants: Be Prepared

See? Even restaurant dining is not off limits. That was one of the first things I noticed in Dr. Dolgoff’s philosphy back last summer: Make healthy choices and still enjoy the foods and places you love.

Allow me to quote a bit from the introduction:

No parent wants his or her child to be overweight or unhealthy. … No child should have to suffer through the physical or emotional torment of being overweight. … One out of every three American children is overweight. And doctors are seeing dangerously obese children as young as age 2. … optimal health and weight loss can be achieved and maintained not by restricting food groups or counting calories but by learning how to eat nutritious foods—and having fun! … It’s so much easier for kids to lose weight and keep it off if they do so before they enter puberty, … The good news is that even if your child already has any of the health or psychological problems associated with being overweight, losing weight through good nutrition and exercise can reverse them. … it’s crucial to think of your child’s weight as a family issue. … Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right will help you encourage nutritious eating habits and regular exercise as a family.

Dr. Dolgoff claims a 96 percent success rate! That’s reason enough for me to get on board. Start driving the Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right express.

She starts off by explaining that everyone (not just a child) needs to “have a game plan for life”. Otherwise you might lose some weight only to gain it right back again, the goal is to have a game plan and to work to keep it off. Further the book helps explain nutrition values and gives you the positive belief that you can do it, and better, you can help your child become healthier while losing weight.

Some things I found extremely helpful in her book:

  • A Body Mass Index Chart, and easy instructions for how to calculate.
Easily check your child’s BMI on Dr. Dolgoff’s website.

  • A list of Dos and Don’ts when it comes to Talking with your children about their weight.


  • Do talk about your own weight struggles
  • Do talk about why certain foods are healthier than others
  • Don’t Sugarcoat or speak negatively or joke about your child’s weight
  • Don’t compare to a sibling who may have less of an issue with weight

Also there is an interesting discussion about why we should NOT put our children on any popular so-called ‘Diets’, she debunks each fad diet with facts and with examples of children from her own practice. From Low-Carb diets to the use of diet pills.

Now for the best part of the whole book! Dr. Dolgoff’s fabulous explanation and categorizing while ‘Teaching the Rules of the Road’ and how to use her system of Green Light foods (Go!) , Yellow Light foods (Slow down!) and Red Light foods (Uh Oh!). A simple game plan for understanding and itemizing the foods you already eat (while encouraging new healthy high fiber foods) into Green, Yellow and Red signals. A 100 calorie serving of a food item generally equals a green light, and if you want a Yellow light (higher calorie) item, you simply substitute it for 2 of your green light servings. And substituting 4 Greens for a Red Light item. Pretty quickly you realize, 4 egg whites (=1 Green Light) will fill you up better and longer than 1 whole fried egg (also=1 Green Light).

Are you worried about figuring out all that information? What’s a green light, what’s yellow or red? NOT to worry, I am not kidding there are 28 pages (yes I counted) of a color coded food database. Including several popular fast food restaurants (one even starts with Mc and ends with Donalds)!

Here’s how our breakfast and mid morning snack went yesterday (for a 3 year old).
2 Green Lights:

  • Whole grain Cheerios 3/4C (=1 Green Light)
  • 1 light yogurt mixed in with the Cheerios instead of milk (=1 Green Light)
  • 1/2 orange sliced (free)
  • 1/2 banana (free)

1 Green Light:

  • 1 light Cheese Stick (60 calories- I couldn’t find fat free, only light?)
  • 7 Honey Pretzel Twists (40 calories to equal 100 for the Green Light snack time)
  • 3 Celery sticks (free)

Oh my Heck! I forgot maybe the best part of the whole Game Plan! The Free Fuel Foods! Dr. Dolgoff explains that fruits and vegetables (not drinks, juices or other processed versions: The Real Deal here) are completely free foods. Have as much as you want! I also didn’t mention the snack times, the recipe ideas and a whole bunch more information contained in this book. From the Game Plan easy color coded food items, to terrific kid friendly and healthy recipes, to success stories from her own practice. Believe me you’ll be just as impressed with this book as I am.

Images from, except blueberries: D Sharon Pruitt