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For Healthcare Providers

Go for Green® is a joint-service food-labeling program sponsored by DoD for the military community. Foods are color-coded Green, Yellow, and Red to help you choose the foods that fuel your body and brain best.

As a healthcare provider, you understand how nutrition can affect health and performance, positively or negatively. Of course high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes negatively impact our service members and Force Readiness. But in the military the effect of nutrition goes beyond lifestyle-related disease. Warfighters must excel at a professional level, just like any world-class athlete. Their performance, both physical and mental, determines success in training, on the job, and down-range during deployments and ops. All service members can benefit from further optimizing their nutrition. As a healthcare provider, Go for Green® is designed to help you too.

Perform Like a Champion!

High-Performance Foods Go: Eat often (every day or at every meal)
Moderate-Performance Foods Caution: Eat occasionally (select carefully and eat in moderation)
Performance-Limiting Foods

Stop/Limit: Eat rarely (once in a while)

How can 'Going for the "Green" ' (foods) help you perform?

  • Enhance Cognition
  • Delay Muscle Fatigue
  • Accelerate Recovery

G4G in Clinic

As a clinician, you have likely experienced the challenges of talking about nutrition with patients and other service members. Go for Green® is a teaching tool that can help you talk to your patients about what foods and beverages they eat. Foods are color-coded Green, Yellow, and Red, to help service members choose the foods that fuel their bodies and brains best.

Go Sticker [JPG]Green: High-Performance Food

“Green” foods are everyday foods in terms of nutrient density. Many can be eaten without having to worry about portion size, although some do need portion awareness.

G4G Caution stickerYellow: Eat occasionally (select carefully and eat in moderation)

“Yellow” foods are to be eaten occasionally. Depending on your health and performance goals, you can choose more or less of these foods daily. A few servings of yellow foods each day are healthy for most.

G4G Stop StickerRed: Eat rarely (once in a while)

“Red” foods are meant to be treats. They have few redeeming nutritional qualities but are often a part of enjoying eating. A few red foods each week will still enable most people to meet health and performance goals.

Talking Points


  • Choose foods identified as “Green” and “Yellow” choices most of the time and limit “Red”-labeled foods.
  • Nutrient-rich food choices support muscle growth, recovery, tissue repair, and immune function and improve cognitive and physical performance.
  • By eating the right balance and variety of foods, service members should get enough of all the nutrients (carbohydrate, protein, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals) needed for performance, weight management, and health.
  • Eat foods that are “fire fighters” (reduce inflammation): colorful fruits and vegetables (rich in antioxidants and other phytonutrients), fish high in Omega 3 (e.g., salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna), flaxseeds, walnuts, whole grains, healthy oils (e.g., olive oil), nuts, seeds, and legumes.
  • Avoid “fire starter” foods (increase inflammation): saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and sugars, trans fats (prevalent in processed food)
  • Eat regular meals and snacks; don’t skip meals or let more than 4 to 5 waking hours go by without refueling.
  • Highly processed foods slow you down mentally and physically.

Performance (physical and mental)

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Choose fruits, non-fried vegetables, and high-quality carbohydrates such as whole grains.
  • Select lean proteins such as chicken without skin, non-fried fish, and beans.
  • Choose low-fat (skim or 1%) milk and yogurt.
  • Use healthy plant-based fats and oils such as olive/canola oils, nuts, and seeds.
  • Drink water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.


  • Healthful foods are available around the base:
    • Go for Green® foods at the dining facility.
    • “Operation: BeFit” foods at the Army/Air Force Exchange Express.
    • Fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins at the commissary.
  • Working out doesn’t necessarily mean you are healthy. Going to the gym is not always enough; proper nutrition helps to speed, complement, and sustain the effects of your workout routine.
  • Resources are available to all service members to prevent obesity and other diet-related issues. Registered dietitians and Health Promotion staff, if available at your installation military treatment facility (MTF) or clinic.

G4G on Base

It is challenging to translate nutrition knowledge into strategies, programs, and policies at public health level for any community, but especially in a military environment. G4G is designed to help with this.

Menu Label Green [JPG]Menu Label Yellow [JPG]Menu Label Red [JPG]
Menu Bus Card Green [JPG] Menu Bus Card Yellow [JPG] Menu Bus Card Red [JPG]

Military DFACs in all settings (including hospital cafeterias) are provided guidelines and a toolkit to implement the Green, Yellow, Red coding and promotions of G4G. At a DFAC, diners can look for these symbols to identify Green, Yellow, and Red foods.

Table tents thumb [JPG]At MWR facilities, posters and table tents will promote “Green” items.

G4G is part of DoD’s Healthy Base Initiative and Operation LiveWell efforts to enhance the health and resilience of our service members. Please visit the Other DoD Health-promotion Programs page for links to their websites.

The G4G Guide

G4G Guide [JPG]The Go for Green® Guide is available for you to view online, print off a copy, or pick up at your DFAC. The G4G Guide and the G4G Summary Criteria (guidelines used for labeling foods Green, Yellow, and Red) are also available as downloadable PDFs (see links below).

Downloadable version of the Go for Green® Guide [PDF]



Tips to build a healthy plate Eat Often
(Almost anytime)
Eat Occasionally
(Select portions carefully)
Eat Rarely
(Once in a while)


Eat 3–4 cups non-starchy vegetables a day.

Starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn are in the Grains/Starches group.

    Fresh or frozen vegetables

    Canned vegetables rinsed to remove salt (green beans, beets)

    No-added-salt canned vegetables (tomato)

    Leafy green salads with dark greens (spinach, spring mix) and vegetable toppings

      Fresh or frozen vegetables with light sauces

      Canned vegetables

        Fried or tempura vegetables

        Vegetables with high-fat sauces (Alfredo)

        Creamed vegetables


        Eat 2–2.5 cups of fruit a day.

        Eat your fruit, don’t drink it.

          Fresh fruit

          Frozen fruits (all types) with no added sugar/syrup

          Fruit canned in water or fruit juice

          Dried fruit (unsulfured with no added sugar)

            Frozen fruit with added sugar/syrups

            Canned fruit in light syrup

            Dried fruit (sulfured)

            100% fruit juice

            Some fruit desserts

              Dried fruit with coatings (yogurt, chocolate, others)

              Dried fruit with added sugar (Craisins)

              Canned fruit in heavy syrup

              Some fruit desserts


                Choose 100% whole grain for at least half of all grain servings.

                  Brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, barley


                  Baked potato/sweet potato with skin

                  Baked sweet-potato “fries”

                  Whole-grain pasta

                  Cereal with less than 10g sugar and at least 3g fiber

                  Whole-grain breads, bagels, rolls, English muffins with 3g or more fiber

                    White rice, couscous, pasta

                    Cereals with more than 10g sugar

                    Sweetened oatmeal/oatmeal packets

                    Grits, polenta

                    Baked French fries

                    Mashed potatoes (no butter or cream)

                    White breads, bagels, rolls, cornbread

                      Biscuits, croissants, full-fat muffins

                      Doughnuts, Danishes, pastries, sweetened breads

                      Processed cereals with sugar

                      Fried rice

                      Pasta with cream sauce

                      French fries (fried in oil)

                      Mashed potatoes (butter and/or whole milk/cream), potato casseroles

                      Grits with added fat


                        Vary your protein choices. Include seafood/fish twice a week.

                        Include beans for protein and fiber.

                          Egg whites/egg substitutes

                          Fish and shellfish (baked, broiled, grilled)

                          Most fish canned in water (except tuna)

                          Chicken/turkey (without skin)

                          Ground poultry (90% lean)


                          Tofu or edamame

                          Vegetable or bean burgers/patties (black-bean burgers)

                            Whole eggs

                            Tuna canned in water

                            Chicken/turkey with skin

                            Pork, ham, Canadian bacon

                            Deli meats

                            Chicken/turkey sausage

                            Beans/lentils with added sugar, fat, ham, bacon

                            Soy patties, links, burgers

                              Fried meat/ poultry/fish/seafood

                              Fried eggs prepared with fat/oil

                              Ground beef, fatty (marbled) cuts of red meat, beef ribs, and corned beef

                              Pork sausage or bacon

                              Hot dogs, kielbasa, bratwurst

                              High-fat deli meats (salami, bologna)

                              Refried (with lard) beans


                                Choose healthy fats and oils.

                                  Oils – olive, canola, safflower, sunflower, sesame, grapeseed

                                  Salad dressings made with these oils

                                  Nuts and seeds, unsalted

                                  Natural nut butters (peanut butter, almond, hazelnut, soynut)

                                    Oils – vegetable, soy, corn, peanut

                                    Salad dressings made with these oils

                                    Mayonnaise made with these oils

                                    Gravy (made with water or low-fat milk)

                                    Margarine spreads with no trans fats

                                    Peanut butter with added oils/fats

                                      Oils – coconut, palm, palm kernel

                                      Shortening and lard

                                      Gravy (made with fat drippings)

                                      Most margarines

                                      Full-fat creamy salad dressings

                                      Cream (half-and-half, whipped, others)

                                      Non-dairy creamer (liquid or powdered)


                                        Choose water instead of sugary beverages.

                                          Water (plain or carbonated)

                                          Flavored seltzers/waters with no artificial sweetener

                                          Decaf tea and decaf coffee, plain Herbal tea

                                          Low-sodium,100% vegetable juice

                                          Non-fat/skim/1% milk

                                            Sports drinks

                                            100% fruit juice

                                            2% (low-fat) milk

                                            Tea and coffee, plain or no more than 2 tsp sugar and 1 tbsp cream

                                            Artificially sweetened beverages of any kind (diet sodas, diet teas, many flavored waters)

                                              Coffee and tea with more than 2 tbsp cream and/or 4 tsp sugar

                                              Sweetened beverages of any kind (sodas, sweet teas, fruit punches)

                                              Whole milk


                                                Compare sugar contents of yogurt.

                                                  Milk (non-fat, skim, 1%)

                                                  Milk alternatives (soy, almond, rice with calcium and vitamin D added)

                                                  Yogurt (non-fat, skim, 1%)

                                                  Low-fat cottage cheese

                                                    Flavored milk (chocolate, strawberry, or other flavors)

                                                    Milk (2% fat)

                                                    Yogurt (2% fat)

                                                    Cheese (reduced-fat, low-fat)

                                                      Whole milk, cream, half-and-half

                                                      Plain yogurt (about 3% fat)

                                                      Cottage cheese (about 3% fat)

                                                      Most cheeses

                                                      Cream cheese, sour cream


                                                        Choose fruit for dessert.

                                                        Choose nuts, dairy, fruit, vegetables, and whole foods for snacks.


                                                          Yogurt-and-fresh-fruit parfait

                                                          Frozen 100% fruit-juice bars

                                                          Milk (non-fat, skim, 1%)

                                                          Other foods from the Green list

                                                            Fruit desserts (made with minimal added fats and sugar)

                                                            Low-fat puddings

                                                            Frozen yogurt and ice milk

                                                            Popcorn, pretzels, baked chips

                                                              High-sugar frozen ice pops

                                                              Fruit pies, cobblers

                                                              Cakes, cookies, most pastries

                                                              Ice cream, gelato


                                                              Fried chips, buttered popcorn

                                                                Most snack foods provide few nutrients for our bodies. Choose whole foods instead.

                                                                Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, lean protein, and dairy make perfect mini-meals to maintain energy levels and fuel for performance across the day.

                                                                Individualizing G4G for Patients

                                                                The Go for Green® Guide is based on consuming 2500 calories a day, including three meals and two snacks. If your patient is very active he/she may need more than this. On the other hand, if he or she is overweight and at a desk job, he/she may need less.

                                                                The Go for Green® Guide can tell you which foods are best (Green foods) to optimize performance, but it doesn’t tell you how much food a person should eat from each group. Many factors determine how much a service member needs to perform at his or her best. Registered dietitians and Health Promotion staff are available at most installations’ military treatment facility (MTF) or clinic. You can refer patients to them for help with their nutrition.

                                                                • How active is your patient’s job? Does he/she load heavy equipment or sit at a desk?
                                                                • Does your patient PT or work out in addition to his/her job? How many hours a week? And at a high intensity?
                                                                • How tall is he/she?
                                                                • How old is he/she?
                                                                • Is your patient male or female?
                                                                • Is he/she at “fighting weight” or overweight?
                                                                • Does your patient have health issues such as high blood sugar, diabetes, or high cholesterol?
                                                                • Does he/she usually have a “good” metabolism?

                                                                No two service members are exactly alike, but the common scenarios below can help you learn how the Go for Green® Guide might help you reach your performance and health goals.

                                                                Scenarios – Individualizing G4G

                                                                Coming soon – please check back.


                                                                The MyPlate program (from USDA) shows you what a healthy plate of food looks like. Go for Green® helps you identify choices within each of the MyPlate food groups to build a balanced, colorful plate through a variety of foods.

                                                                MyPlate_Yellow [JPG]When choosing foods for lunch/dinner at the dining facility, diners should keep in mind the picture of the plate.

                                                                • ½ plate vegetables and fruit
                                                                • ¼ plate grains and starchy vegetables
                                                                • ¼ plate proteins
                                                                • low-fat (skim or 1%) milk and yogurt

                                                                The G4G Guide can help diners choose mostly Green selections within each food group to enhance performance. Depending on individual calorie needs and health, one or two Yellow foods at each meal may still be part of a performance-boosting plate. For most, Red foods should be limited to once a day or a few times a week.

                                                                The most active service members need more than one “plate” at each meal.

                                                                For more information about the MyPlate program, visit the website.

                                                                Support G4G

                                                                Your role as a healthcare provider is vital in reinforcing the nutrition message. You can support Go for Green® by:

                                                                • Encouraging service members to use the Go for Green® Guide to help make their food choices.
                                                                • Encouraging service members to take time after physical training (PT) to refuel and recover. Eating to refuel is important after exercise sessions, especially when activity occurs first thing in the morning, because the body has been in a fasting state during sleep. Eating after exercise, regardless of the time of day, helps to ensure muscle recovery and repair.
                                                                • Use the Talking Points (see the "G4G in Clinic" tab) to amplify the message and raise awareness of Go for Green®.
                                                                • Keep a Go for Green® table tent or poster visible in your clinic to refer to.
                                                                • Provide service members with a copy of the Go for Green® Background paper.

                                                                Recommended Actions

                                                                • Hang Go for Green® posters and display other materials such as brochures and table tents in patient-care areas and waiting rooms.
                                                                • Have copies of the G4G Guide and Background paper available for patients and staff to take with them.
                                                                • Meet your local dietitian, food service operator, and/or health promotion staff, who are standing ready to offer you additional support. If you are a dietician, teach your patients Go for Green®.
                                                                • As a role model, implement G4G to take care of yourself.
                                                                • As a community leader, talk to your command and support your installation’s Healthy Base Initiative and Go for Green®programs.


                                                                G4G Background Go for Green® Background [PDF]
                                                                Public-service announcements [PDF]
                                                                Healthcare Talking Points [PDF]
                                                                Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) [PDF]

                                                                For display and handout:

                                                                G4G Guide [JPG] The G4G Guide [PDF]
                                                                Posters (Downloadable letter-size; may require professional printing;
                                                                larger sizes are available on request)
                                                                G4G About Posters [JPG] About Go for Green® (two posters)
                                                                G4G Food Posters Green [JPG]G4G Food Posters Green 2 [JPG] Green Foods (two posters)
                                                                G4G Food Posters Yellow [JPG]G4G Food Posters Yellow 2 [JPG] Yellow Foods (two posters)
                                                                G4G Food Posters Red [JPG]G4G Food Posters Red 2 [JPG] Red Foods (two posters)
                                                                Table tents (Require professional printing)
                                                                G4G Table Tent Army [JPG] Army
                                                                G4G Table Tent Navy [JPG] Navy
                                                                G4G Table Tent Air Force [JPG] Air Force [PDF]

                                                                Background for you:

                                                                G4G Background Go for Green® Background [PDF]
                                                                Press KitMore Go for Green® print, display, and other promotional materials are available here.