Learn about Red, Amber and Green foods & drinks

Click on the meals above to see examples of ingredients for different meals and some example meal ideas

Red foods are foods to avoid as much as possible.

e.g. sugar, bread, rice, pasta

Amber foods are foods which are ok occasionally/in moderation e.g. bacon & nuts

Green foods are things that you can have as much of as you like (within reason!) e.g. salad & green vegetables

On medication for Diabetes (apart from Metformin)?

You should check with your doctor or nurse before making a significant change to your diet.

On medication for high blood pressure?

A low carb diet can reduce your blood pressure and you will need to keep an eye on this.

Diet Summary

Diet sheet adapted from that of Dr David Unwin et al. published in BMJ Nutrition.

Sugar, cut it out altogether

Although it will be in the blueberries, strawberries and raspberries you are allowed to eat. Cakes and biscuits are a mixture of sugar and starch that make it almost impossible to avoid food cravings; they just make you hungrier!! 

Reduce starchy carbs a lot

Remember they digest down into surprising amounts of sugar. If possible cut out the "white stuff" like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and breakfast cereal.

All green veg/salads are fine

Eat as much as you can, turn the white stuff green. So that you still eat a good big dinner try substituting veg such as broccoli, courgettes or green beans for your mash, pasta or rice - still covering with your gravy, bolognese or curry!

Fruit is trickier...

Some tropical fruits like bananas, oranges, grapes, mangoes or pineapples have too much sugar in and can set those carb cravings off. Berries are better and can be eaten; blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples and pears too. 

Eat healthy proteins...

Such as in meat, eggs (three eggs a day is not too much), fish - particularly oily fish such as salmon, mackerel or tuna - are fine and can be eaten freely. Plain full fat yoghurt makes a good breakfast with berries or seeds. Processed meats such as bacon, ham, sausages or salami are not as healthy and should only be eaten in moderation.

Fats are fine in moderation...

Olive oil is very useful, may be tastier than margarine and could be better for you! Coconut oil is great for stir fries. Four essential vitamins A, D, E and K are only found in some fats and oils. Please avoid margarine, corn oil and vegetable oil.

Cheese: only in moderation...

It is a very calorific mixture of fat and protein.

Beware of "low fat" foods

They often have sugar or sweeteners added to make them more palatable. Full fat mayonnaise and pesto are definitely on!!

Snacks: avoid, as habit forming.

Un-salted nuts such as almonds or walnuts are OK to starve off hunger (30g max). The occasional treat of strong dark chocolate 70% or more in small quantity is allowed.


Eating lots of veg with protein and healthy fats leaves you properly full in a way that lasts.

Finally, about sweeteners and what to drink

Sweeteners have been proven to tease your brain into being even hungrier, making weight loss more difficult. Avoid fruit juice. Drink tea, coffee, herb teas or water (100ml of milk is a teaspoon of sugar). Alcoholic drinks are often full of carbohydrate - for example beer is almost "liquid toast" hence the beer belly!! Perhaps the odd glass of red wine wouldn't be too bad if it doesn't make you get hungry afterwards - or just plain or sparkling water with a slice of lemon.

Lou Walker is a Health Coach who promotes the use of low carbohydrate diets. This video is a good introduction to the approach and highlights how much hidden sugar there is in our diets. You can find her YouTube channel here.

This website does not provide personal medical advice.

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