Want to Control Calories? New Labels Can Help.

You hop in your car and drive away. Despite all the typical distractions, (music, smartphone, other people in the car, weather conditions, etc.), you almost instinctively know what to do when you reach an intersection with a traffic signal. Red light, stop. Green light, go. Yellow, slow.
It's a universal traffic control pattern used around the world. And it makes navigating the road and other drivers a lot easier. The same principle was recently applied to meals served in the cafeteria at a large health care company. Researchers wanted to find out if traffic light food labels would help people make healthier choices.

Menu items were labeled with a green light (100 to 400 calories), yellow light (400 to 500 calories), and red light (550 to 950 calories). One group selected their food using these new traffic light food labels for calories. Another group received menus that showed the caloric value for each item. And a third group was left to figure out how to eat healthy without any nutritional information.

Researchers found that when it was easy for people to see if a food was healthy or not (green, yellow or red light labels, or calorie counts), they were more likely to make healthier food choices. In fact, the two groups that made food choices with the new calorie labels ate 10 percent fewer calories than the group that was just winging it.

If you want to control calories, read food labels, says lead researcher Dr. Eric M. VanEpps. You won't find traffic-light labels on foods yet, but you can read the Nutrition Facts Panel on a food package, or look up how many calories are in an entrée at most chain restaurants. It only takes a few seconds, and it can help you make healthier choices.

If you prefer home-cooked meals, but don't want to get out a scale or worry about serving sizes to control calories, we can help. Our selection of Portion-Controlled meals taste great and are made from fresh ingredients, low in calories, and just the right serving size to help you eat healthy and manage your weight.