Go – Slow – Whoa!

“Go, Slow, Whoa” is a great way to frame how you think about nutrition and healthy choices every day. As the weather warms up, your family may become more active and ready for all types of summer activities and traditions. With all the excitement, events, and summer festivities, it can be easy to indulge in fun foods. While occasional splurges are part of a balanced diet and life, they shouldn’t be part of your family’s everyday diet. Check out these Go, Slow, Whoa recommendations that are perfectly tailored for summer time:

 Go” foods are healthy, and are okay choices for any meal and snack.

Slow” foods can be healthy, but shouldn’t be part of each meal. Your family can enjoy them several times a week.

Whoa” foods do not have high nutritional benefit and are full of empty calories. They should not be part of your family’s daily meals, and should only be enjoyed once in a while.

Remember to still follow MyPlate guidelines when making balanced meals! Check it out at www.myplate.gov.


  • Summer salads. So many great fruits and vegetables will be in-season over the next few months. Try a salad with baby spinach, arugula, strawberries, raspberries, and apple slices. Add grilled chicken to make a great vegetable-based meal.
  • Eating meals in skewer form! Enjoy fun dishes and food combinations by cooking vegetable slices like bell peppers, onion, and asparagus on the grill. You can also add small cubes of lean meats, too.
  • Tea sandwiches on 100% whole wheat bread. Kids love fun food, and mini tea sandwiches (cut sandwiches into small pieces) are fun and portable for picnics and outdoor snacks. Use summer produce, like cucumbers and tomatoes, to make them refreshing and nutritious.
  • Freezing fresh fruit for cool snacks. Whole grapes, pineapple chunks, and blueberries are favorite frozen treats that need minimal preparation. For a better imitation of summer desserts, try blending (without adding sugar) fruits and herbs and making homemade popsicles. Mint and pineapple or strawberries and basil are two great combinations.
  • Water! Keep your family hydrated this summer by keeping ice-cold water on hand. Try sparkling waters, adding fruit, or adding cucumber slices for fresh flavor.


  • Taco shells and tortilla chips. Tacos and tortilla chips are a common snack at summer gatherings. While it is easy to keep these dishes healthy with lean proteins, fresh veggies, and not no added fats, tortilla products are often not 100% whole wheat and are easily overeaten. Try eating taco toppings as a salad with a romaine lettuce base, and enjoy only a few chips on the side.
  • Hotdogs and hamburgers. Hotdogs are very processed, and contain many fats, preservatives, and salts. While they are a fun cookout and baseball game food, they shouldn’t replace leaner meats (like chicken breast) regularly. Hamburgers are often made with fatty ground beef and unhealthy buns, making them full of calories. If you enjoy hamburgers, try using lean beef or black bean burgers, and eating them on lettuce in place of a bun.
  • Dried fruit. A lot of dried fruit has added sugars, making it lose its health benefit. However, even when no sugars are added, it is easy to overeat dried fruit, which leads to adding sugars and calories to your day.


  • Ice cream and frozen desserts. Loaded with sugars, these treats may be delicious, but certainly aren’t nutritious. On days when a scoop of ice cream is irresistible, make sure you pay attention to the serving size, and don’t overdo it on the toppings.
  • Packaged granola bars. The summertime may leave you feeling like your family is always on-the-go. Granola bars are an easy snack, but many are very unhealthy, especially those bars that are marketed at children. If granola bars are a standard in your household, do some research on the healthiest option that doesn’t have a lot of added sugar; there are healthy options out there.
  • Fried sides. Chips, French fries, and onion rings are a common item at parties and barbeques. Enjoy a few, but don’t offer them to your family daily. If you are looking for a salty snack, try making your own in the oven or trying fresh vegetables with a savory sauce.
  • Soda. Soda is never a healthy option, and should never be used to quench thirst in hot weather. Always opt for water or iced tea (without sugar) in the hot weather, and think of soda as a dessert rather than a drink, that should only be enjoyed once in a while.