You are here: Home / Nutrition / Go for Green® / Go for Green® For Leaders

Go for Green® For Leaders

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.

Why Go for Green®?

Nutrition is a key component of Force Readiness. Service members who are overweight or have poor nutrition habits are at increased risk for chronic health conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. These health conditions increase healthcare and personnel costs, potentially directing resources away from warfighting missions. The performance benefits of positive nutrition and the consequences of poor eating habits cannot be underemphasized. Service members are rated on performance in training, on the job, and on regular physical fitness tests. Fueling for success optimizes a service member’s training and performance—anytime, anywhere!

The Impact

Go for Green® increases awareness of healthy, high-performance food options and helps service members to make informed decisions about the foods they eat. Program evaluation has shown that Go for Green® labeling is the most helpful method examined for service members to make performance-enhancing food choices. “Performance” is a word service members hear frequently throughout their military careers, and the messages of “eating for performance” and “fueling” resonate well with service members; however, influence of leadership, reinforcement of positive behavior, and modeling are critical.

Performance nutrition is essential for:

  • Improving Warfighter readiness
  • Muscle recovery
  • Sustaining health
  • Maintaining and enhancing mental performance
  • Preventing disease
  • Enhancing endurance and resilience

Use these facts to bolster support for G4G at your installation:

    • Nutrient-rich food choices support muscle growth, recovery, tissue repair, and immune function, and improve mental and physical performance.
    • Nutritional fitness is a critical part of Total Force Fitness. As a part of physical health, nutrition is a building block of resilience and optimal performance.
    • Poor nutritional fitness leads to lost man-hours; that’s time that could have been spent directly supporting the mission.
    • Resources are available to all service members to prevent and treat obesity and other diet-related issues.
    • Going to the gym is not always enough; proper nutrition helps to speed, complement, and sustain the effects of your workout routine.

      The G4G Program

      Go for Green® involves labeling food choices in military dining facilities by color (Green, Yellow, or Red) to show which foods are more or less nutritious, as well as providing guidelines for foodservice professionals to help improve the nutritional quality of the foods they prepare.

      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]

      Go for Green® coding criteria are based on the most recent nutrition and health research from such sources as the military nutrition reference standards, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and other recognized national nutrition standards.

      Other Programs

      Nutrition Talking Points

      • Choose foods identified as “Green” and “Yellow” most of the time and limit “Red”-labeled foods.
      • Eat for performance (physical and mental).
      • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
      • Drink water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
      • Eat regular meals and snacks; don’t skip meals or let more than four to five waking hours go by without refueling.
      • Highly processed foods slow you down mentally and physically.
      • Select lean proteins such as chicken without skin, non-fried fish, and beans.
      • Use healthy, plant-based fats and oils such as olive and canola oils.
      • For crunchy toppings use nuts and seeds, which contain healthy fats.

        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.

                                                                      G4G & MyPlate

                                                                      How Go for Green® Translates to MyPlate

                                                                      The MyPlate program (from the U.S. Department of Agriculture) 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 you assemble your lunch/dinner at the dining facility, 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

                                                                      See the G4G Guide to choose mostly Green selections within each food group to go on your plate to enhance performance. Depending on your 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 leader is vital in reinforcing the nutrition message; you set the standard by modeling and promoting healthy habits. As a leader, your efforts can support Go for Green®.

                                                                      • Encourage service members to use the Go for Green® labeling to guide their food choices.
                                                                      • Ensure that high-performance foods (“Green” label) are available at every meal.
                                                                      • Ensure that service members have ample time to eat.
                                                                      • Eat in the dining facility with service members.
                                                                      • Encourage service members to take time after physical training (PT) to refuel and recover. Refueling (eating) is important after exercise sessions, especially when activity occurs first thing in the morning, since 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.
                                                                      • Remind service members that healthy foods are available around the installation:
                                                                          • Go for Green® foods at the dining facility.
                                                                          • “Operation: BeFit” foods at the Army/Air Force Exchange Express.
                                                                          • Fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins at the commissary.

                                                                          Recommended Actions

                                                                          • Hang Go for Green® posters and other materials around your workstation.
                                                                          • Plan a once-a-week lunch at the dining facility with the service members in your command.
                                                                          • Join service members in the dining facility for lunch once a week and choose a healthful meal.
                                                                            • Many service members may think it’s not “cool” to eat at the dining facility. Help change the norm!
                                                                          • Create an environment that promotes eating for performance by promoting healthier food and beverage choices:
                                                                            • Implement formal worksite policies to promote healthful food and beverages for meetings, socials, and fundraisers.
                                                                            • Ask your local dietitian to come to your dining facility and have him/her available for question and answers or even invite him/her to eat at a “round table” to discuss various topics such as recovery nutrition, protein and carbohydrate balance for working out, etc.
                                                                            • Request healthy appetizers or meals at award ceremonies and social gatherings.
                                                                            • Petition senior leaders, caterers, and others to provide healthy eating options at functions you often are required to attend as a leader.
                                                                            • Advocate healthy food and beverages in dining facilities, vending machines, and elsewhere in the worksite.
                                                                            • Ensure access to free, clean drinking water.
                                                                            • As a visual reminder that you’re committed, keep fruit, nuts, and other healthy snacks on your desk.
                                                                              • Find and meet your local dietitian, food service operator, and/or health promotion staff, who are standing ready to offer you additional support.

                                                                              Note: a downloadable version of these Recommend Actions and other Leadership Talking Points is available on the Print/Media tab.


                                                                              Public Affairs Coordination Inside and Outside DoD

                                                                              Public affairs includes the dissemination of materials to installation Public Affairs offices, various interested establishments, participant group meetings, and trade publications. G4G materials for PA include a background paper, a short print-ready article, nutrition public-service announcements that can be used in a variety of venues on installations, and more.

                                                                              More Go for Green® print, display, and other promotional materials are available in the Press Kit section.

                                                                              G4G Guide [JPG] The G4G Guide
                                                                              Public-service announcements [PDF]
                                                                              Social media posts [DOC]
                                                                              Images for social media
                                                                              G4G Social media image Air Force JPG Air Force [JPG]
                                                                              G4G Social media image Army JPG Army [JPG]
                                                                              G4G Social media image Navy JPG Navy [JPG]
                                                                              Leadership Talking Points [PDF]
                                                                              Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) [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]
                                                                              G4G Background Background paper [PDF]