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)|
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.
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.
Yellow: 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.
Red: 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.
- 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.
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.
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
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).
|Tips to build a healthy plate||Eat Often |
|Eat Occasionally |
(Select portions carefully)
(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
Fried or tempura vegetables
Vegetables with high-fat sauces (Alfredo)
Eat 2–2.5 cups of fruit a day.
Eat your fruit, don’t drink it.
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
Grains/StarchesChoose 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”
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
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
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)
Tuna canned in water
Chicken/turkey with skin
Pork, ham, Canadian bacon
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
Fats/OilsChoose 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)
Full-fat creamy salad dressings
Cream (half-and-half, whipped, others)
Non-dairy creamer (liquid or powdered)
BeveragesChoose 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
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)
DairyCompare 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)
Cream cheese, sour cream
Choose fruit for dessert.
Choose nuts, dairy, fruit, vegetables, and whole foods for snacks.
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)
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.
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 ChooseMyPlate.gov website.
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.
- 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.
|Healthcare Talking Points|
For display and handout:
|The G4G Guide||[PDF]|
|Posters (Downloadable letter-size; may require professional printing;
larger sizes are available on request)
|Table tents (Require professional printing)|
Background for you:
|Press Kit – More Go for Green® print, display, and other promotional materials are available here.|