Memorial Medical Center has launched a new initiative in its cafeteria to help employees, patients and visitors make healthier food choices.
The initiative, called “Green Light – Choose Right,” uses color-coded traffic-light signage to let people know the nutritional value of their food. A green-light item is recommended for food items to be selected often, yellow-light items in moderation, and red-light items only occasionally.
Hospital leaders decided in 2013 to begin offering more healthier choices in the cafeteria to better reflect the hospital’s mission to improve the health of the people and communities it serves. The goal was to encourage people to choose more wisely, not by eliminating unhealthy choices but by providing an easy-to-follow labeling system that explains at-a-glance which items are the healthiest and which ones should only be occasional indulgences.
“Our Food and Nutrition employees continue to work diligently to ensure that choosing a green-light or yellow-light item does not mean you are sacrificing taste,” said Jim Squires, the nonprofit hospital’s interim food service operations manager. “We want to motivate people to make the healthy choice by offering attractive and delicious menu options throughout the day.”
New options include healthier breakfast items with lower calorie and fat content, such as quinoa with blueberries, and lower sodium soups for lunch and dinner. The cafeteria is also phasing out some self-serve stations to make portion control easier for the consumer.
“We have been able to modify some items in a simple way to make them healthier,” said Amy Melton, clinical dietitian at Memorial Medical Center.
Even several desserts have undergone a “Green Light – Choose Right” transformation. Dessert shooters, a variety of mini-desserts in small cups, come in around 100 calories. And some of the cakes, pies, cupcakes and cookies are now served in smaller portions, moving them from red- to yellow-light status.
“What you choose for your meal is always your choice,” Squires said. “We just want to make it easier to make your choice a healthy one.”