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!
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.
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.
- Go for Green® fits into other health-promotion programs that DoD sponsors. For more information, visit the Other DoD Health-Promotion Programs page.
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
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.
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.
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 ChooseMyPlate.gov website.
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:
- “Operation: BeFit” foods at the Army/Air Force Exchange Express.
- Fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins at the commissary.
- 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.
- 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.
|Images for social media|
|Leadership Talking Points||[PDF]|
|Posters (Downloadable letter-size; may require professional printing;
larger sizes are available on request)
|Table tents (Require professional printing)|