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Green, Yellow, Red: Food Journaling Made Easy

by Yes Health

Food journaling has long been shown to be a helpful tool in weight loss. Keeping a food journal can teach you some interesting things about what, when, why and how you eat. Not only do you start to see your patterns more clearly, you also notice what you eat (and why) when you aren’t hungry, how your eating habits change around different people and when drinking alcohol, and how well your perceptions about food and reality match up.

Traditional food journaling typically requires people to record everything they eat and drink into a physical or electronic journal, which, can feel tedious. The Yes Health app makes it easy (and dare we say fun?) to keep track of your meals through our food photo journal. Taking pictures allows you to better recall and compare portions, plus sharing these snapshots with our coaches boosts accountability and gives you the additional benefit of real-time feedback. 

Simple color coding (green=excellent, yellow=good with room for improvement, red=consider healthier choices next time) provides a quick visualization on how healthy your meal was. Here are some examples of each: 

green meal

GREEN: 1/2 of the plate is comprised of vegetables. this meal includes healthy sources of protein (egg and salmon, which also provides healthy fats). There is a small portion of complex carbohydrates in the form of potatoes, tomatoes and vegetables. 

yellow meal

YELLOW: 1/3 of the plate is a green salad with minimal dressing. Although potato salad and fried chicken are less healthy options, the salad boosts this rating from red to yellow. Potato salad can be high in fats, carbs and sugars, so it’s best to keep portions small. A suggestion would be to switch to grilled chicken next time, and for now, to remove the fried skin to decrease calories. 

red meal

RED: This meal has 1/4 or less vegetables with heavy dressing. The meat portion exceeds recommended size of a deck of cards and has barbecue sauce, which tends to be high in sugar. French fries are a less healthy source of starches and are high in calories and unhealthy fats. To bring this meal to a yellow, decrease the meat and fries portion by 1/2 and add a vegetable, such as steamed or roasted broccoli or  asparagus.  


Here are some quick tips for keeping portions in check: 

1.  As the dietary guidelines say, “Enjoy your food, but eat less and avoid oversized portions.” Portion control can be tricky if you’re not paying attention. But here’s a super simple tip to make things easier: Use a smaller plate, bowl or glass!

2. The “digital portion control ruler” in the viewfinder of our meal‐logging camera serves the same purpose—the green circle is 9 inches in diameter, which is the size of a small plate.

3. Use the green circle or an actual small plate, place the appropriate portions of food on it and then—this is important—don’t go back for seconds, and say “No, thanks!” to desserts.

4. If you’re eating out, opt for the lighter fare on the menu. You can also choose an appetizer as your meal, share an entrée with your dining partner or ask to have half of your meal boxed up so you can take it home and enjoy it tomorrow.

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