Weight Management: Selections: Green Means Go!--Less In, Part 2

The second practice of Reasonable Fitness to reduce the amount taken in deals with selection of foods. Smart choices leads to lower Calorie intake and a greater sense of being full and satisfied. The outcome of selecting good food options is that you can eat A LOT of somethings without exceeding your daily limit.

The underlying goal of selection is to find foods that are low in Calories, but that are filling. A bonus is if they are good for us, too!

My sons used to quote a comedian whose name I cannot recall. They would say that bananas are kinda the opposite of traffic lights. With traffic lights, red means "stop," yellow means "caution," and green means "go." With bananas, however, green means "stop," yellow means "go," and red means "where'd you get a red banana?"

For Reasonable Fitness, green means "go"!

Again, talking from a perspective of Calories, green foods are as a rule a good choice. If it is green, you can essentially have as much as you can stand to eat and count it as 100 Calories. For nearly all green foods, this is okay. Clearly, it is not perfect. Yes, you could theoretically eat 5000 Calories worth of English peas. But would you?

(And be sure to count any added flavorings--dressings, butter, pork fat, etc.!)

So if green means "go" what is "stop"?  Brown means "stop."

Foods that come in any shade of brown tend to be high in something that will provide a lot of Calories--fats, starches, or other carbohydrates.

What about white? Ah ha! Well if you consider white a very light shade of tan, then white lands toward the stop category. Pasta and potatoes are going to land in this color group. That makes me very sad.

Of course we are talking about the color of the main part that you eat. Bananas are light tan, unless you eat the peel. Apples are also tan, even if you eat the peel. Potatoes are definitely tan, even if you buy the red or purplish ones.

So with regard to Calories, brown means "stop." Chocolate is brown. Steak and beef are brown. You see what's happening?  Caramel drenched apple crumble is dark tan. Eat things in the brown family sparingly, and do so knowing you are running up a lot of Calories.

And then there is everything else. If it is neither green nor in the brown family, it is between "stop" and "go." Corn, tomatoes, squash, carrots, and a zillion other things land here. Add this in as you wish, but watch the amounts and Calories.

With this rule in mind, you can almost assign Calories based on what color group they land in. You'll be pretty close, most of the time.
Green = 100 Calories per reasonable serving. 
Other = 150 - 200 Calories per reasonable serving. (Tomato, glass of orange juice, berries, carrots.) 
Browns (not counting deserts) = 250 Calories per 4 ounce serving. (One 4 ounce piece of meat, two piece of bread, small potato, serving of pasta.) 
Deserts and sweet pastries = 400 Calories
One of the big challenges to weight management is dining out. If you work on-the-go, you might find the drive through line a common experience. Selecting better options here is hard--it is tough to eat a salad as you drive.  Why not go inside and get a greener option--a salad! Besides, driving and eating distracts (not only your driving) but your ability to enjoy the meal and recognize that you have eaten.

Pick your dining out experiences deliberately
to help your weight management.
When dining out, you are subject to the options of the place you visit. Think about this in advance and pick places where you can find a combination of foods you like with low calorie side dishes. Almost every place I can think of has something you can pair up with your entree.

When trying to work out what to eat as a side dish after ordering the steak, think green! Pick the steamed broccoli to compliment your order and leave off the baked potato.

As a general rule, following the idea that green means "go" is effective in finding lower Calorie selections. Of course there are exceptions. I really don't know how to classify cauliflower! How different could it be from broccoli?

Furthermore, if factors other than Calories are considered, then there are many problems with this approach. While whole wheat flour is browner than bleached flower, it is considered more nutritional. Again, with rice, brown and white rice are essentially equal in Calories, but brown rice is considered to be more nutritional.

The exceptions aside, with regard to only Calories, green means "go" is a pretty solid rule. However, any system this simple falls apart if pushed. Here are some exceptions to the "green means go" rule.
  1. If it is green, but also comes in brown, then it is not "go." You have to treat M&Ms, ice-cream and other things like that as browns!

  2. If it is currently green, but is supposed to be some other color, then it is not "go." It isn't ripe yet! Doh!

  3. If it is usually brown, but has turned green... Something bad has happened, and really, do I need to warn you not to eat it!
By being intentional about the foods you select, you can manage to have a full stomach and yet keep the total Calorie intake in bounds. As you plan meals or peruse the menu, think green. Light brown is usually better than dark brown (e.g. chicken is better than steak, and apples are better than chocolate).

How you prepare the green foods, however, must also be done intentionally. If you usually cook your peas or green beans in butter or some other fat, you are diluting their low Calorie status. Still, green beans cooked in butter probably come in at a lower Calorie count than a baked potato with butter and surely better than fried potatoes!

Select your foods wisely! Being aware of what you are picking can lead to very fulfilling dining experiences.

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